Trauma (1993)

As Argento films go, this one has an unusually appropriate title, cos I certainly feel like I’ve been traumatised by the fucking thing; I know Dario’s generally considered to have gone badly downhill since the 80s, so I wasn’t exactly expecting a masterpiece, but god/dess I wasn’t expecting something this piss poor. Trauma was apparently his attempt to go Hollywood following his collaboration with George Romero on Two Evil Eyes (which I’ve never seen); this doesn’t seem to have been a brilliant move on his part, as the script apparently got rewritten at the insistence of his American producers by T.E.D. Klein (whose lone film credit this remains) to “Americanise” it and make it less of a giallo and more of an American-style murder mystery, and a kind of silly one at that. Our “hero” is a kind of nondescript TV news staffer who rescues our “heroine” from a suicide attempt; the latter suffers from anorexia for reasons that have little evident connection to the main plot, which revolves around a serial killer who kills their victims on rainy nights using an interesting decapitating machine. It’s actually not too bad a story, but oh the execution of it… I see other reviews criticising the film for being something of an “Argento’s greatest hits” package, recycling various older tics and tricks particularly from Deep Red, but the impression I got was more of someone else trying to rip Argento off and making a hash of it, it really is more like a cheap, bad knock-off rather than the real thing; plain (at best) to look at, blessed with a rotten score, and finally collapsing under the weight of some truly dreadful acting (unfortunately you can’t blame bad English dubbing this time). Oh, and don’t forget the “talking head”, at which I could only facepalm (this wasn’t Tom Savini’s finest hour either). Overall there’s a sense of Argento just not really giving a shit, and it’s hard not to imagine how much better this could’ve been.


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