Film Reviews:


aka Dario Argento's Trauma (US)

(Dario Argento, US, 1992)

A seance ends in panic as a voice, possessed by evil, proclaims there is a murderer present. Terrified, Aura watches as her parents flee from the scene. The next time she sees them they are dead - their headless corpses identifying them as the latest victims of a serial killer who uses an electric noose to decapitate them. Convinced she will be next, the girl befriends a reporter and pleads with him to help her unmask the murderer before it's too late. As they begin to investigate the events surrounding her parents' deaths, Aura finds each grisly revelation takes them closer to the killer and to the shocking truth behind the killings.

A lot of old crap, for want of a more eloquent phrase, has been written about Dario Argento's Trauma, most of it coming from longstanding fans of his work. Much of this nonsense harps on about commercialism, compromise and insists that this is far from the 'classic', earlier films by the stylish Italian director. It all begins in typical Argento fashion, lots of close-ups of black-gloved hands and a black doctor's bag, however, once it settles down it feels more like a quality, American mainstream thriller, resembling Jagged Edge or Fatal Attraction than it does a European horror. But since this is the director's first all-American production maybe that's not such a surprise. Gore effects maestro Tom Savini's special make-up effects are a little ropey in places and there is a dreadful optical used in a lift decapitation scene that renders what could have been a horrible moment into a laughable joke. The cast are generally good, Argento's daughter Asia managing to add a little depth to her quivering character. Vocal tracks at the beginning and end of the film are dramatic and atmospheric but the remainder of the music is dire, TV-movie rubbish that badly lets the director down. The ending does deliver the goods and is suitable gruesome but the emphasis throughout is on tension and thrills as opposed to blood and horror. If this were the first feature by a new director this would have probably received rave reviews.

Rob Dyer