Trauma Blu-ray Review

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Searing and Depraved Horror From Chile

Four women from Santiago, Chile visit the countryside for a weekend getaway in one of the most brutal and controversial films ever made in Latin America. Director Lucio A. Rojas (The Wicked Woods) serves up the viscerally graphic Trauma, a vicious tale which blends the sordid history of Chile’s violent past under dictator Augusto Pinochet in the 1970s with shocking horror taking place today.

Expect sequences as gruesome and bloody as the infamous A Serbian Film. The blistering sexual violence and extreme gore may be too much for timid viewers. Trauma is politically aware horror grounded in the evil and numerous human rights violations committed under Pinochet in that time period.

The movie opens with one of the most brutal and devastating scenes ever filmed. A boy is permanently traumatized when he and his mother are tortured beyond reason by the military serving under Pinochet. Moving forward to the Chile of 2011, long after Pinochet and his military regime have passed away, a group of women representing modern Chile venture to the idyllic countryside for a pleasurable weekend trip. Their outing soon turns into a complete nightmare when a demented man and his son unleash their psychotic evil on the unsuspecting group. Cut off from civilization, the weekend becomes a bloody fight for survival.

Trauma is not for the faint of heart, or the weak of stomach. The graphic scenes in the unrated director’s cut are NC-17 in caliber. Even jaded horror movie lovers will find the gore shocking.

The no-holds-barred movie is horror filmmaking made with a purpose, incorporating true events to add authenticity. Some of it does feel a touch gratuitous, but provides an intensity rarely matched in cinema. Beyond knowing Pinochet was a corrupt dictator of some infamy, I came to Trauma as an American with little foreknowledge of Chilean history. Trauma will obviously mean something different to citizens of Chile that lived through Pinochet’s reign of terror. It’s easier for me to accept it as a fictional horror movie mostly designed to scare audiences. Trauma claims to be based on true events.

Rojas’s shocking Trauma is expertly crafted

Outside the political framework of Chilean history, Trauma is smoothly structured like any other standard horror movie in its plotting. Rojas’s shocking film is expertly crafted from direction to cinematography, creating an evocative sense of terror. Music can make or break a horror movie. Composer Ignacio Redard’s propulsive score is fantastic, carrying the action along. The moody electronic score almost has the same impact that John Carpenter’s revered score for Halloween aids that horror classic.

Grounded in some sense of reality, the protagonists are a sympathetic group of women. Andrea (Catalina Martin) takes her sister Camila and Camila’s seductive girlfriend Julia, along with friend Magda, to a secluded home in the countryside. The four young women stick out like a sore thumb in this backward, rural place. Their happiness will soon come to an end when they encounter Juan (Daniel Antivilo) and his creepy son, Mario. Even the local police are little help in dealing with the escalating terror, so the friends take it upon themselves to end things on their own. Pushed past their breaking point, the women come face to face with true evil.

The refreshing thing about Trauma’s characters are their realism. This movie doesn’t offer the hyper-reality found in many horror films today in Hollywood, when female protagonists often turn into superwomen capable of stopping everything thrown at them. There’s nothing supernatural about Juan or his son; they are just some of the sickest and most twisted humans possible. Nothing, including rape and cannibalism, are beneath them.

Trauma is powerful horror storytelling. Director Lucio A. Rojas’s film makes a statement on Chile’s past while delivering one of this year’s most frightening and effective movies.

Video

Cult specialty label Artsploitation Films brings the Chilean Trauma to North America in a fantastic-looking Blu-ray. The 2017 production is encoded in strong AVC on a BD-25. It is presented at its intended 2.35:1 aspect ratio.

Sebastian Ballek’s razor-sharp digital cinematography is made for 1080P resolution with its staggering detail and impressive definition. The digitally-graded film has the menacing tone and color palette favored by many thrillers today that often slips into teal.

The remote Chilean exteriors are beautiful, showcasing the unfiltered transfer’s better highlights. Interiors have moody lighting with top-notch black levels and shadow delineation. You would be hard-pressed to distinguish Trauma’s video from big-budget Hollywood filmmaking. This is a perfectly realized aesthetic that meshes well with the gruesome tale.

Audio

Trauma sounds great with a punchy 5.1 Spanish Dolby Digital soundtrack. The crisp, immersive audio comes with prominent low end. The capable discrete action is nicely spaced out across the soundstage, including rear support.

Ignacio Redard’s phenomenal electronic score is the real star in the surround mix. Nicely mastered with ample dynamics and clean dialogue, Trauma is a high-class audio production. Normally I would complain about the lossy audio. The mix and sonics are so good on their own that Trauma sounds great even in lossy quality.

A secondary Spanish 2.0 Dolby Digital audio option is provided. Optional English and English SDH subtitles play in a yellow font inside the 2.35:1 video.

Extras

The lone bonus is Trauma’s original trailer. It would have been nice if a featurette or two could have helped share background information on Chile’s past and Pinochet’s regime.

Trauma Trailer (02:03 in HD) – This is the original film trailer in Spanish with forced English subtitles.

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray release was provided to us for review by the label. For information on how we handle all review material, please visit our about us page to learn more about DoBlu’s editorial policies.

Trauma
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras
5

Movie

One of the year’s nastiest and most brutal horror films, Trauma, delves into Chile’s violent past under Pinochet.

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