It’s time to talk Argento. The strange and creepy Italian man with the beautifully strange and creepy daughter. I feared him and fell in love with her. One of my favorites is Trauma. I rented it from a local video store and popped some corn one evening. I was in the mood for something different and this was the ticket.
Trauma is a different kind of film. Asia Argento plays Aura, a young girl who is suffering from anorexia and has been in and out of hospitals for some time now. She escapes the hospital again and meets a guy named David (Christopher Rydell) that seems like he wants to help her. She steals his wallet (one way to ensure a second date) and heads off on her merry way. She doesn’t get far before she is stopped outside and returned home much to the dismay of her mother. Her father seems passive and her mother is a psychic who holds séances in her home.
On one such rainy night Aura comes home to find mom at it again only something is different. Mom (Piper Laurie) is channeling a victim of the head hunter. A man who has been decapitating his victim’s in and around town. After an incident, Aura’s parents’ runs out into the rain and disappear into the wooded park surrounding the property. Aura gives chase, only to find her parents headless on the ground and the killer holding their heads. The head hunter decapitations are alittle more high tech than we are used to seeing, using a mechanical garrote device for his kills.
Aura returns to see David and asks for help. He takes her home to retrieve some clothes and look for answers. This launches them into a seek and destroy mission against the killer. David is of course falling in love with her as they run for their lives, which is interesting because she is underage, at least in America. The bodies keep piling up and one thing becomes clear, they are all in the medical profession.The pace is a little slow at times but the second half has some thrills and a great twist.
This film has a great cast that’s doing great work. As usual, Asia is good and believable as the troubled teen searching for her parent’s killer. She has never had a problem conveying a rough around the edges exterior even at an early age. Christopher Rydell as David, our Good Samaritan hero, is likeable in a role that could easily be a Scott Speedman type role (And I hate those).
Piper Laurie has always intrigued me, well at least since Twin Peaks, and she does a fantastic Italian accent. She may not have a lot of screen time but she owns the film in the scenes she appears. James Russo and Fredrick Forest are also good and lend a sense of class to this gory thriller.
I’ve heard a lot of talk about how bad the dialogue and acting are and the truth is, neither is bad, just adequate. I again think that the hype rose expectations beyond what the movie would have been otherwise. As a prime example, after Leonardo Dicaprio won his first Oscar for “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape”, he did “Titanic” and caught some heat because he “didn’t have any Oscar worthy scenes”. It wasn’t that type of character nor was it meant to be.
No, Trauma wasn’t well received at the time but I believe it suffered from too much hype on something that a lot of Americans don’t understand…the Giallo. It is a fine thriller and one of the last times a master was in charge of an American horror film. Argento is one of the best and though I am aware that he has been playing variations on a theme for years, so do many others, Hitchcock, Scorsese, the list goes on. It’s not laziness, it’s his style. This Argento film really is a film best decided by personal taste and the hope that yours is in tune with his.