Trauma (2017) Chile
Writer/Director – Lucio Rojas
Runtime – 110 minutes
The DVD cover for the American audience
Too Much Films
Border Motion Cinema
Chris Reiben Studios
Trailer (coutesy of JoBlo)
“Inspired by true events”
When a film opens with a scene blistering with savagery of this caliber it’s hard not to be in two minds about continuing. A part of the viewer is euphoric with a burst of adrenaline as if to say I’ve hit the mother-lode; this film looks like it will most definitely deliver. Whilst the other part screams turn it off, turn it off. A thousand scalding showers will not wash away the filth you are about to visually consume. Stop now while you are able!
Barely six minutes in and Trauma has delivered more shock value than a decade’s worth of cinema could ever hope to, barring of course the obvious occasional gems.
After the sense-shattering introduction, Trauma takes little time to introduces its players. The first two leave very little to the imagination as the viewer is submerged face first into nekkid, flexible sweaty limb, territories. The film progresses, and the pair find themselves joined by a couple of close friends. They head out of the city and soon encounter a rash of small-town hospitality and raised eyebrows at the mere mention of where they’re headed. (Las Augustinas is off the beaten track and they’re unsure as to whether they’re on the right track, it’s been a while since last they visited). Awkward silence blankets the scene upon the mention of Gustavo, the owner of the property who, apparently, is filthy rich but hasn’t been seen in years.
Another narrative switches back and forth with the first and works well after an initial transition period. It introduces the film’s antagonists and their immediate surroundings, an abandoned military installation/bunker like setting. Filled with flashbacks it connects the past with the present and showcases their development and rather unique, and quite odd, relationship to each other.
Back to our intrepid travelers. They arrive at their destination, merriment takes a hold, beverages are consumed and lust falls like inevitable darkness. It’s at about this time that the viewer has the understanding that this film is not like most, the four main characters are all of the female variety so the adage ‘final girl’ seems very much a likelihood in this cinematic excursion. Undeniable and applaudable even this far in, is the fact that this feature does not hold back when it comes to the unflinching celebration of the flesh in all of its unbound glory.
A sudden knock at the door cuts short a striptease and uninvited guests crash the party (in an utterly relaxed manner mind you) flipping the film into somewhat of a Deliverance/House on the Edge of the Park affair but with the ante skyrocketed into the stratosphere. The film ups its tempo, switches gears and stumbles into definite Dark Web waters. Incest flaunts with rape, cannibalism is a huge part of the foreplay and bodily fluid consumption is commonplace although not delivered in love but rather fueled by spite and disgust.
Trauma now has a new pair of characters, an instantly dis-likable duo whose presence seethes with arrogance and obnoxious ill intent.
The film rolls onward and it’s unmistakable that the locale is rather unlike our own. The rules and attitudes are somewhat familiar but different and traditions have been passed down through eons, much like the behaviors of this film’s antagonists. However, much like in our own little bubble money reigns over all and those belonging to a family of power have little to worry about no matter their transgressions (sure, this is a debatable point and we’d all wish that justice prevailed, but it often doesn’t weighed down, as it often is, by greased palms and politics). Toying with, rather molesting, hot buttons such as domination, subservience, misogyny, an adherence to traditional values, empowerment and obvious vigilante behaviors Trauma leaves the viewer with their heart pounding and little room to breathe ensuring that those easily offended are looking to bolt through the nearest doorway towards the hills with their laptops, blogs and diatribes of complaints boiling over in their cortex assembling themselves into somewhat of a cohesive manner, in tow.
The Hills Have Eyes, Haute Tension (aka High Tension, Switchblade Romance), I Spit on Your Grave, Frontieres, Martyrs and The Last House on the Left (*breathe, breathe) are only a selection of the films which come to mind while experiencing Trauma as it offers a smorgasbord of stunning visual atrocities and monstrous scenarios to absorb. The tension is highly effective, palpable and unrelenting and the violence displayed without fear of reprisal, brutal and often gag inducing for those not accustomed to the like. Surprisingly the soundtrack/score lays low, is quite indistinct, and hardly ever raises to a level that might make one assume something is about to go down.
Trauma succeeds on many levels, it seethes with sexuality and also horrifies, often in the same instant, yanking the viewer’s emotional response to and fro much like a buoy in a tsunami intent on utter devastation. It leaves an indelible impression and boasts a plethora of moments that will have the viewer yelling at the screen. Instances where one is likely to be able to predict what comes next based on extensive viewing habits in, and around, the same genre. Though that’s not to say that this can be pigeonholed alongside other genre affairs of the cookie-cutter variety. The whole, while it manages to hold the viewer in thrall, there’s nary a dull moment and very few talkie drama bits on offer to get in the way. The characters remain highly relatable based mostly on their believable actions, reactions, interactions with each other and the unfolding hellish scenario. And the climax, well I won’t ruin it suffice to say that movies of similar ilk would be better off following suit rather than opting for what they presume everyone wishes to see.
In short, Trauma is a powerful slab of celluloid that boasts striking performances and doesn’t shy away from tearing the proverbial ‘envelope’ into shreds. Instances might make the viewer think twice about travelling deep into exotic locales (much in the same way Ruins did) whilst others will result in some left wide eyed and speechless.
Trauma certainly isn’t meant for the faint hearted, though is recommended for those who like their cinema raw, shocking and slathered in scenarios which aren’t at all too far-fetched. Trauma hardly glorifies the evil of man though does promote the thought that man, however he may be so corrupted, is inherently wicked and barbarically bestial given no social restraints, a notion and reality that’s substantially larger than the majority of penned fantasy would lead us to believe. Lucio Rojas has created that which has been lacking as of late, a feature that though given a scant budget parameter delivers all it promises and is well deserved of a spot in the collection next to classics you don’t wish to boast to anyone other than close friends.
Give this a view, you will not be disappointed!
Thanks again to the kind folks at Artsploitation Film for their consideration
Be sure to check out the DrunkInAGraveyard Podcast episode where we talk about Trauma.
(Review originally written for and posted to CultMetalFlix)
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