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Trauma (2013)
Tonight's Short Presentation

TRAUMA (2013)

Starring: Angela DiMarco, David S. Hogan, Lisa Coronado, Wonder Russell, Rick Walters

Written By: Jeremy Berg (also story), John Portanova (also story), Angela DiMarco (story)

Directed By: Jeremy Berg

See It Here: Currently Making Festival Runs


The Story

Mallory (Angela DiMarco, The Rectory) has been through a life-threatening experience that still haunts her, and when we first meet her, she is in bed, as of yet unable to cope with the horror of what happened.  Lucinda (Lisa Coronado, The Arborlight) has been keeping a loving watch over her, but hospital duty calls, meaning that for one afternoon, at least, Mallory must be left on her own.  Just herself, her traumatic memories, and a clear view of the neighbor’s window, through which she will come to see something terrible… something she just can’t ignore…


The Rundown

What Kind Of Cheese Is It?

BRIE ON TOAST. ONE PIECE.

Great stuff.  Doesn’t last long.


Pairs Well With...

A SHOT OF ABSINTHE.

Goes down quick, and then you’re not entirely sure what just happened.  You’ll be thinking about it for a long time, though.


“It’s just a dream.  He can’t hurt you anymore.”


The line above is one of the first the audience hears clearly during Trauma.  It may or may not be true, and to me, that is the single most important element of this story.

One of the most interesting means by which a horror film can work to unsettle its audience is to make that audience question reality.  Trauma starts off seeming straightforward enough: the protagonist is lying in bed, recovering from a traumatic event of indeterminate recency.  Less than six minutes later, the end credits are rolling, and the audience is left with three or more ways to interpret what just happened, all of which hinge on the question: how much of what’s pictured on the screen actually occurred, and in what order?

The best thing about that?  Whether one chooses the most straightforward interpretation possible (the one I suspect the creative team really meant) or the most convoluted (my favorite), one still ends up with a genuinely creepy and highly effective psychological horror flick.

As for what makes it so effective…

Coming in at under six minutes without credits, Trauma is too short and too good to spoil by handing down plot details.  What I can tell you is that the story is deceptively simple, with as many or as few layers as one cares to read into it.  I can also say that between director Jeremy Berg, cinematographer Chris Joseph Taylor, and editor Kris Boustedt, not an ounce of atmosphere is lost.  From the very start, and even during the film’s most heartbreakingly tender moment, there’s something intangible pulling at the viewer telling him or her to feel uneasy and to wait for the world to coming crashing down, for surely it will.  Not only does this subtle but omnipresent atmosphere of unease serve the film’s psychological horror purpose, but it also draws the viewer into mindspace of the protagonist, Mallory, multiplying the overall effect.

Speaking of Mallory, Angela DiMarco does an outstanding job with a part that would be very, very easy to overplay.  She’s vulnerable without being weak, determined without breaking vulnerability, and completely, utterly relatable from the word “go.”  Meanwhile, it seems like it must have been a thousand years ago that I first encountered the work of Lisa Coronado as a villain, because thanks to the projects I’ve seen her in since then I’ve come to think of her as a go-to performer for real-as-life, sympathetic, heart-reaching roles.  Trauma continues that trend, and… nope, not going to spoil it.  I’ll just go on to note that Davis S. Hogan (All My Presidents) lays down exceptional creepiness without going over the top to do it, and that any film that can afford to put a talent like Wonder Russell (Ten Years Later) in the second string has got some formidable power indeed.

And the most amazing part about all of this?  Trauma was made in less than 48 hours, from start to finish (as in “don’t even have a concept or a script before the clock starts and have a fully polished film before it stops”), for less than the cost of an Xbox One.

You can’t even get a crappy wedding video with sound no one can understand for that kind of money, folks, even with months of advance planning.  But with Trauma, Mighty Tripod and friends (including the October People) have created not just an amazing 48 Hour Film (it won the “Audience Favorite” award at the festival that spawned it, by the way), but rather, an amazing short film, period.  I’d readily set this flick against another of similar genre with full Kickstarter backing and a year’s worth of planning and be perfectly willing to bet that Trauma comes out on top.  That’s how good it is.

As for flaws… nope, sorry.  Not even if I nitpick, and believe me, I tried.

Bottom line, if you get the chance to see Trauma for yourself, take it.  This is the pinnacle of 48 Hour filmmaking, and a showcase for a group of artists who seem to only get better each time a camera rolls.

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- Reviewed by Ziggy Berkeley, January, 2014


You can email Ziggy at ziggy@cinemaontherocks.com. You can also find us on Facebook.


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