I’d heard quite a bit about TRAUMA, the “extreme horror” film from Chilean filmmaker Lucio A. Rojas (ZOMBIE DAWN, PERFIDY) before I had a chance to see it. More than one writer compared it to A SERBIAN FILM in its content. The question was if, unlike that film, it had a script that would make that content have some impact. If it did I had a feeling I was in for some rough viewing. About five minutes into the film I knew I was.
Opening with a prologue set in 1978 during the reign of right-wing dictator Augusto Pinochet, TRAUMA hits the viewer with a blast of torture, rape, incest and murder as a young boy is caught up in the atrocities Pinochet’s forces committed.
From there we jump forward to the main story. Four women are heading out for some relaxation in the country. Andrea (Catalina Martin), her sister Camila (Macarena Carrere), their cousin Magdalena (Dominga Bofill, EQUALS) and Julia (Ximena del Solar PATH), Magdalena’s girlfriend. Lost they stop at a bar for directions, a bar full of unfriendly locals. The situation is defused by the local badass Juan (Daniel Antivilo HIDDEN IN THE WOODS) and the girls leave.
Arriving at their destination the girls relax and have a few drinks. Soon Juan is back along with with his son Mario (Felipe Rios) and this time his intentions are anything but good. After a night of sexual assault, the police become involved. But even that doesn’t end the horror.
It’s quickly apparent that Juan is the now grown boy from the prologue and he has passed his trauma on to his son. Raising him to become the monster he was made to become. It’s a stinging indictment of both Pinochet and the cycle of violence his regime created. It’s filtered through the cycle of domestic abuse here to create a truly bitter end product.
Rojas doesn’t pull any punches either. The rapes and other acts of violence are presented full on and without flinching. It’s not so much that the attacks are sexually explicit, it’s the rawness and brutality they’re filmed with. The cast allegedly told Rojas not to hold back in filming these scenes, and the result is obvious and effective. TRAUMA lives up to its name and then some.
By escaping the trap of concentrating on the extreme to the expense of plot and characters Rojas has created a powerful film. It’s one that many won’t be able to sit through, and many of those who can will be pushed to their limits.
Artsploitation Films last release was the fun post-apocalyptic flick MOLLY. TRAUMA is a bundle of darkness to counterbalance it, It will be available October 23rd on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital HD.