And here is a copy of my Trauma critique. Once again - I posted this on another sites forums (it was not an official, or unofficial review for the site). So it can be used here okay Needless to say - MAJOR SPOILERS! In for a penny, in for a couple of heads and a piece of wire. Put another way, I sat through Phenomena this morning, writing a fairly lengthy critique of it – and tonight I found myself watching Trauma. There are three Argento films I just cannot get along with – Phenomena, Trauma and Phantom of the Opera. There is method in my madness – knowing that I would write at least a little something about each of them, it led me to take more time concentrating on the details of what I was about to see. The fact that I like both of these films a little more than I did before probably speaks to this. Previously, they bored me, or just broke my concentration with their wilder aspects, and I couldn’t get inside them at all. This special effort assignment meant I just had to give them more time. So – let’s take a brief look at Trauma. Introduction DVD - UK Tartan, Wide screen. Surround Sound 2.0. Before getting into the details of this film, it is only fair for me to mention one or two little issues I had on the way. I am forever grateful to Tartan for putting this film out, it certainly is a case where any release is better than none. On the other hand, this disc is not much more than a placeholder until a really great release hits. Tartan films are often criticized for being too dark – well, this one definitely is. I had to crank up the brightness on my TV to make this watchable. I simply do not understand how they could not have read, time and again, that their prints are too damn dark. Secondly, the sound on this film is pretty bad too. There is only a single time where it was effective. Please, next time lets get a 5.1 track out there. Plot Summary An anorexic young woman escapes from a psychiatric clinic and meets a young man who wants to help. She is caught and returned to her parents, who are soon beheaded by a garroting stranger making the rounds about town, apparently striking only when it rains. The orphaned young woman and her new lover launch their own investigation and are endangered when a link is discovered between the victims. Trauma sits between Opera and The Stendhal Syndrome. The writers credited here are Dario and TED Klein. The truth however, is that this story is based on a plot by Dario, his long running cohort Franco Ferrini and Gianna Romoli who co-authored Dellamorte Dellamore. I do not know anything about TED Klien, and I’m not sure I want to. Trauma – a Critique Trauma opens with a model. This model is of a guillotine which we see behead a toy. At first this is a rather a curious choice of an opening segment. It won’t be long before we understand that this film is full of beheadings, however, why the strange choice of the model? The answer is revealed much later in the film, during a particularly effective scene in the bedroom of a house (more on this later). This room belongs to Nicholas, the deceased brother of Aura, the female lead. In the scene in the bedroom we get a fleeting glance of a babies crib, some stuffed animals – and low and behold, this children's “toy” standing up against a wall. I have seen this film several times, but this is the first time I have been able to make the connection. Now, I’d have to say it is effective (albeit a strange toy to get for a little baby, oh well.) Trauma’s world is also a little different from what we’ve seen in the past from Dario. This is because this one was filmed in the US, and Dario did nothing to hide this fact. Actually, it was filmed in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The locations are a strange mix, but their American roots introduce a different feel. The first scene proper is, of course, a good old murder – you know, just to get us settled. I might as well say right up front, all murders in this film are beheadings. Since this is the first time we see one, special credit should go to it. The victim here is a Chiropractor. The murderer poses as a patient, and there you have a victim. The murder also takes place during a fierce rain and thunderstorm. There are a couple of things about this scene that really stick out. The first is that the chiropractor has a pet lizard in her office. The killer steals this lizard and keeps it in their house. I was left to puzzle what this lizard thing was all about – what purpose does it play in the film? After seeing the whole thing I can only say it is there only to entice a young boy into the murderers house. It seems a real convoluted way of doing this – but there it goes. Dario often has lizards in his films, so why not here? If I could leave it at that, I would. But there is one more thing to say about this lizard, it can’t be killed. Or maybe it turns into a zombie lizard. I will explain in a moment. The second thing about this scene is that it takes place during a rainstorm, with lightning crashing all around. Let’s face it; Dario has a thing for water. Oh sure, there’s water in most films, but Dario always gives it special meaning. In this film, we have murders that only take place during rainstorms (with one exception, where the rain has to be created by setting off a sprinkler system.) This is a running theme in Dario’s films, and likely I don’t have to say any more about it. This film also has a scene that echoes the lake swimming sequence in Phenomena. It is thought that Aura, played by Asia Argento, has drowned herself – her love interest, played by Christopher Rydell, goes searching for her. To be honest, this scene does not have the impact as the earlier version, which itself borrows heavily from Inferno, but it is there. I cannot continue without talking more about this zombie lizard. First, there is a chiropractor with a lizard. The murderer steals the lizard, I simply do not know why. However, it later serves as a vehicle to get a neighbors child to break into the killers house. During this scene, he grabs the lizard, gets scared, and crushes it in his hands – green goop and all. He throws it on the carpet, escapes, and the murderer finds it lying on the carpet. All well and good. Except, the lizard is shown later in the film, when the love interest gets into the house. So, is this a new lizard, the same lizard that has recovered, what? I honestly do not know. It’s just one of those Argento moments that makes your head spin. The second major scene is often spoken of – it’s the meeting of David Parsons, the love interest, and Aura who is played by Asia Argento. This takes place when he is driving across a bridge, and see’s her climbing over the railings, apparently ready to kill herself. Stopping his truck, he runs to save her. Despite my best efforts to give this scene every chance I possibly could, I just cannot believe that the take that was used was the best one they shot. Asia is stiff as a board; her lines are dull and bored. David tries hard to inject some energy into the scene, but lines such as, “Stop struggling!” just sound bizarre when Asia has yet to even move! Of course, Aura follows David to safety. During this sequence, David see’s track marks up her arm, and refers to sharing a past addiction problem. This is a rather strange detour for the film to take. Drugs play a very small part in this film. Just to explain how the whole tracks in the arm thing works – David has basically confessed a weakness (his only in the film). Later, he thinks Aura has committed suicide, and this leads him back to his drug taking ways. He forges a prescription to get himself some drugs, and is found out by the chemist. Inexplicably, the chemist runs after David and kicks his ass, all very strange behavior for a chemist, but what the hey. It reminds me of Inferno, when the hotdog guy, bored and bothered by screams, goes to silence the poor bookstore owner (I hope he washed that knife afterwards!) The real problem here is that this sequence comes and goes so fast, you have to wonder why it is there. While David is sitting on the pavement, having been hit by the chemist, we see through his foggy eyes, and spy a blurred image of a woman with a wristband on, walking passed him. Sure enough, this turns out to be the armband that belonged to Aura. Aura’s mother (sorry, she’s the murderer, all revealed later) has taken to wearing it. Was the whole drug taking sequence a convoluted way of introducing this vital, coincidental clue? It seems so. Aura does not have a drug problem. We find out later that she is anorexic, and has been held at a clinic. She is brought back to the clinic, to disastrous results. While there, we see her laying in bed, tubes into both arms. This is clearly where she got her track marks from – not from illicit drug use. The sympathetic element that initially ties these characters together is therefore broken, reinforcing true love over just plain sympathy. That’s nice, huh?