Trauma Blu-ray Review
Written by Robert Gold
Blu-ray released by Artsploitation Films
Written and directed by Lucio A. Rojas
2017, 106 minutes, Unrated
Blu-ray released on October 23rd, 2018
Catalina Martin as Andrea
Macarena Carrere as Camilla
Ximena del Solar as Julia
Dominga Bofill as Magdalena
Daniel Antivilo as Juan
Felipe Rios as Mario
Eduardo Paxeco as Pedro
Following a harrowing prologue set during the Pinochet regime of the 1970s, we are transported to contemporary (2011) Santiago, Chile, where a group of four friends (three of them related) are off on a weekend trip to the country to escape to a family retreat. The ladies are drinking and dancing, but their party is soon interrupted with the arrival of local lunatic Juan and his son Mario. These are despicable men bent on rape and torture. The women who survive the ordeal try for help but the local police prove ineffective. Knowing their assailants have kidnapped a small child, they agree to pursue them and save the kid and hopefully get some sweet revenge.
I was unfamiliar with Trauma (2017) before playing it for this review. Box quotes promised something savage, but I don’t generally believe the hype, as I am a jaded horror fan. From the moment this film started, I was caught off guard by what was coming. I have since gone online and looked at the reviews and must agree there is a startling similarity to the intensity found in A Serbian Film, one of the more disturbing movies I’ve seen in years. Now it is Chile’s turn to school me on depravity. Believe me when I say this is not a title for the squeamish. Casual viewers will want to steer clear of this one. Upon release, Trauma earned an NC-17 rating and this Blu-ray delivers the even stronger unrated director’s cut.
Writer/ director Lucio A. Rojas (Path) takes an unflinching look at human depravity and asks the question of what makes a man a monster. There are hefty political undertones throughout the picture, notably that the villain is a product of the brutal Pinochet era of Chile’s recent past. Rojas studies how atrocities can produce long-lasting psychological and emotional damage and even generational scars. Rape, murder, torture and incest are among the activities on display here and no ugly stone remains unturned. Rather than going for a gritty underground stylistic approach, Rojas works closely with cinematographer Sebastian Ballek to create a polished mainstream look at this cycle of violence. There are some beautiful moments, including various aerial shots that spotlight the natural beauty of the environment, making the violence all the more jarring.
The cast members are all top-notch and really sell the material, no matter how unsettling. Daniel Antivilo stars as the revolting Juan and disappears into the role that takes him to some truly dark places. I really hated him and the things he does and wanted the girls to catch up and hurt him, badly. I haven’t had this strong a reaction to a character in a long time and I must commend him for his dedication to the part. Catalina Martin stands out as Andrea, the de-facto leader of the group. She is strong and resourceful and manages to keep it together during the toughest of times. I was rooting for her and her friends to make it out of this nightmare and get back to what is left of their lives. Juan’s cruelty will certainly leave them scarred for life, but I believe they will ultimately be all right.
This is a tough movie with shockingly brutal violence that swept me up into the immediacy of the moment. I felt dirty watching it at times and feel weird recommending this title to others, but I do so without too much guilt. Trauma succeeds in its relentless pursuit of horrors grounded in reality. Lucio Rojas has created a powerful film and I look forward to what he does next.
Video and Audio:
Presented in the 2.35:1 aspect ratio, the film receives a strong transfer that is full of color and rich in detail. Black levels are appropriately inky and there is plenty of activity in the shadows in the final act.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 mix is quite effective as the intimacy of the violence is well-realized with discreet use of the surround channels. There is also a Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo track, which is fine, but I prefer the expanded mix. This is a Spanish-language film and optional English subtitles are provided for anyone in need.
The sole extra feature on this disc is the original trailer, but it contains many spoilers, so you may want to watch the movie first.
This page includes affiliate links where Horror DNA may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.