Sunday, October 29, 2006

Head Trauma (2006)

Head Trauma is one of the creepiest films I've seen in a long time, independent or otherwise. It truly keeps you guessing with its surreal, dreamlike atmosphere and haunting images.

Drifter George (Vince Mola) returns to his hometown after a long absence to lay claim to his deceased grandmother's condemned house. The house is boarded up and has been trashed by squatters. Bits of trash, clothes, furniture and nasty bits of strange goo are scattered throughout the house. As George sets about cleaning the place, he has a run-in with his neighbor, Julian (Jamil A.C. Mangan). A misunderstanding leads to a scuffle in which George hits his head. After his head trauma, George begins having disturbing visions of a hooded figure, a girl who has been hung, a strangling in a hotel room, scribbled drawings and a car crash. George's dreams start to melt into his reality and he starts to question what is real and what isn't. After reconciling with his neighbor, they both continue cleaning the house, including the flooded basement which may be hiding the house's dark secret.

The film's dark, dream-like atmosphere adds to the horror and like George, we are confused and disoriented. The hooded figure that stalks George is definitely creepy, as is his grandmother's house full of dark corners and a dark past. The filmmakers' use of camera angles, lighting and direction all make for a foreboding and scary mood. I haven't jumped so much watching a movie in a while! The actors are also excellent...the acting alone is worthy of a big-budget picture, if not significantly better, especially the leads of George and Julian.

The end of the film wraps up all the loose ends and gives us an explanation of the events, though some is left open for interpretation. The ending reminded me of a David Lynch film, while the rest of the movie played sorta like Ringu or Dark Water (the originals, mind you!), but without the predictable scares. There is no gore in the film, but this doesn't affect its spook factor. The images alone in the movie will haunt you for days to come!

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