Sunday, November 13, 2011

Horror Film Review

Head Trauma (2006):  I don't know how to classify this movie.  Haunted house flick?  Sort of.  Slasher flick?  Kind of.  Psychological thriller?  In a way.  It doesn't help that someone decked out in the hooded parka from Urban Legend is lurking about.  I will say that Head Trauma isn't rife with cliche, which is what you'd expect from a film that defies classification.  You really don't know what the hell is going on, and that's awesome.

George Walker (Vince Mola) returns home to take possession of his grandmother's house despite the fact it's been condemned and slated for demolition.  A neighbor's kept a box his grandma left for him.  He doesn't open it and, of course, it's the key to the whole mystery.  What mystery, you ask?  Well, George has nightmares of the parka guy murdering a girl in the woods and finds clues that other bad things may have happened in the house.  Our hero starts acting squirrelly, freaks out an old flame (Mary Sherman) with his paranoid behavior, and the neighbor kid Julian (Jamil Mangan) who's been helping him clean witnesses George doing some odd things.  Is it ghosts?  Is George possessed?  Is a serial killer squatting in his grandma's house?  The answer is in that box, and like any good mystery, we don't find out what's in it until the very end. 

I had no expectations going into Head Trauma, which was a good thing as it's definitely a low-budget endeavor.  Mola is not your normal protagonist.  He's a frumpy, middle-aged everyman who reminded me of both Richard Dreyfuss and Paul Giamatti at the same time.  So one cliche busted.  Romance between George and old flame Mary doesn't happen because she thinks he's nuts and tells him to piss off.  Another cliche down.  And the black neighbor kid helping George out?  He doesn't die.  Third cliche busted.  If nothing else, you can't say this film's predictable. 

The Breakdown

Acting:  Not great, if I'm honest.  It's funny how the supporting actors are always better than the headliners in low-budget movies.  Not funny ha-ha.
Story:  More original than not.  I have seen other movies with similar plot lines, but I didn't know that until the very end.  I really hate knowing what's going to happen.  That's not to say you won't have a very good idea what's up with the parka dude, but I doubt you'll figure out the twist.  I didn't. 
Direction:  A little rough, but director Lance Weiler gets the job done.
Production Values: was filmed in Scranton, PA for a little over a hundred grand so don't expect Hollywood glitz.  I was impressed that the sound and lighting didn't suck.  The sets...I'm not sure if they were drab by design or if it was just the best they could do.
Gore/FX:  None.  And I do mean none.  In this case, it's not a bad thing at all.
Scares:  Why, yes there are.  One may cause you to lose a few drops of pee.  It certainly got me.  (I didn't pee myself, though.)
The Ending:  It wraps itself up neatly with closure to boot.  How often do you see that in horror?

The Verdict:  Should you see Head Trauma?  I say, yeah, give it a go.  At the very least, it will make you jump a few times.  And here's a tease:  the name of the movie has everything to do with the mystery.  Clever, no?

My Rating:  3 out of 5 stars. 

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