There are films in this world that you painfully inject into your eyes, and they leave lingering cataracts infested with disease forever plugged into your head. Those films are so extreme, dehumanising and nasty that they will never generate interest from the masses, but deserve to be called upon for their horrific imaginings that seem impossible to have thought of. Trauma from director Lucio A Rojas is a film that delivers exactly this, and within a few minutes leaves you wondering how your life spiralled onto this path.
When four women take a trip to an isolated area of the countryside, they soon become the victims of a horrific and relentless attack by a father and son combination. After their ordeal, they soon come to realise it’s far from over and they must continue their plight in order to save another girl from destruction and escape the endless nightmare.
Many extreme films aim to deliver the audience with something so horrific, it will forever be penned in history. Notable films that have gained this recognition are A Serbian Film, Saló and Cannibal Holocaust, and they truly left the audience with scenes and subject matters that could not be abolished from the minds of those who had witnessed. However, films like the first two aforementioned have a political reasoning for the reason they were made; they tell a story about politics, society and how atrocious those aspects are through a narrative that shocks the audience. Trauma is not different from those films, and aims to tell the dark history of Chile which was run by the oppressive dictatorship of Pinochet. During the years from 1973 to 1990 Chile was under rule from the military government that persecuted leftists, socialists and anyone with a progressive thought. Rojas’ explicit film exposes this depressing time for the country by taking a supporter yet also victim of those times and pitting them against the Chile of today, which is a modern country with ideals that align with those of this century.
The first five minutes of Trauma give the explosive and exploitative tone of the state of the political background, and also condemns other extreme films to a much lower class of extremity with the scenes that are shown. If there was ever a second that anyone thought that the topics explored in A Serbian Film couldn’t be triumphed, that second has been eradicated and replaced with the opening sequence in this film. Those relentless first moments in this film shock the audience beyond comprehension and ensure that they are mentally prepared for the continuous onslaught that the film will violate with them at every opportunity available. However disturbing those scenes are, they are indefinitely needed to enable the viewer to understand how the story progresses and how one character can be so damaged psychologically in order to commit the acts that happen through the rest of the film.
Usually films of such barbarity make that seem even more close to home through the use of grimy filming such as the found footage style, which adds the snuff effect to a film. Although highly effective at making the viewer feel they have stumbled upon the dark web, it often means those awful acts are not as identifiable as you cannot see them clearly. Much like A Serbian Film, the hard-hitting Trauma decided to forgo that aspect and run with well-produced cinematography. Some might claim that this takes away the gritty feel, yet with this film it adds to the reality of it and the nasty feeling of it. There’s just something about it being made well that makes the intentions shown throughout the film feel even worse.
Trauma is a film that will destroy your soul. It’s one of the toughest films to watch, and deserves a place in extreme horror history for its speciality in making the audience feel uncomfortable, filthy and almost on the brink of committing an illegal act just by watching. Lucio A. Rojas has taken the concept of “horrific” and personified it within a film. This mentally damaging movie deserves recognition for the barbaric depictions of inhumane horror.
Verdict: 4 out of 5