Head TraumaDirected by: Lance Weiler
Starring: Vince Mola, Jamil A.C. Mangan
Buy it from Amazon here!

It’s
tough going into a movie you have high hopes for. More often than not
the film will never live up to the expectations in your head.
Fortunately, Head Trauma
erases all fears right from the beginning… throwing you into a
nightmare world where you’re never sure what’s right around the corner.
It’s the kind of filmmaking that people lament not seeing more of-
because it’s spooky without resorting to cheap jump scares, well acted,
and one hell of a story.

The Film-

George
Walker is coming back home. His grandmother died a few years ago, and
her house has been left abandoned and in disrepair. It is soon to be
demolished. George isn’t exactly the kind of guy who keeps a steady
job, so he sees an opportunity in this- to fix up the place real quick
and sell it for a few bucks.

He
breaks into his childhood home only to discover that in the time since
his grandma died it’s been inhabited by all manner of squatters and
drug addicts. It’s no wonder that his neighbors want the house gone.
But George still has hope that the inspector will see the hard work he
puts into it and will allow it to stay till he can find a buyer.


Reminds me of camping in the South Bronx…


But
it’s just not that easy. Besides the enormous amounts of trash around
the place, the basement’s flooded- and it doesn’t exactly look stable.
George also starts having strange visions revolving around a hooded
figure- nightmares where horrible things happen to him and the people
around him. He happens on a comic in the house that seems to be showing
exactly what he’s going through- is he going nuts? Or is something else
going on in the house? His old friends and neighbors worry for him as
he tries to figure out what’s happening…

The Judgement-

Saying
too much about this movie would ruin it. Director Lance Weiler has
managed to do something that’s pretty impossible nowadays- he’s made a
film that’s genuinely creepy. As a horror junkie, it’s insanely hard to
get into a film completely- I’m constantly wondering how effects were
done or shots were pulled off, all the while looking at the characters
as nothing more than actors. It’s hard to get completely into a horror
movie these days, especially since more than often it seems the
filmmakers have no idea of how to scare people. Not so with Head Trauma.
The film immerses you right from the beginning, with the beautiful
shots that make you feel as if you’re flying above a forest. And the
rest of it creeps you out- big time. I love it when a film makes the
hair on the back of my neck stand up.


Act now, cause time is running out!


One
important factor in this film (and indeed, something that made me
interested in the concept in the first place) is that it was shot in an
actual abandoned house. They checked out over 60 empty buildings before
finally finding their place. The house is as much of a character as any
of the actors- and when you realize that the filth and garbage in the
house was actually real- you’ll understand why it all feels so grimy.

The
relationships between the main characters feel genuine, even as you are
just as confused as George at what exactly is going on. The film’s more
of a personal journey than anything, but that’s not saying that you
won’t get just as scared as him. The scenes with the hooded figure that
seems to be stalking the house are truly spooky- the sound effects and
music helping to turn a faceless monster into a nightmare…

The
one letdown with the film was a somewhat predictable ending. Even so,
it’s the only way that it could end- anything else would’ve made the
rest of the movie seem ridiculous.

The Sight and Sound-

Of course this is shot on DV (Weiler’s first film, The Last Broadcast-
was the first film to be shot, edited and shown entirely in digital-
take that, George Lucas) and it’s got a great look to it. Forget the DV
naysayers. The transfer is crisp and clear, and the colors on a whole
are muted- adding to the feel of the film. The sound is great as well,
in a 5.1 mix that will fully immerse you in the creaking sounds of the
house.


Next time your girlfriend asks you to pick up tampons- LISTEN TO HER.


The Extras-

This disc is packed… seriously.
Every feature is worth multiple views, something that can’t be said
with a lot of dvds. It shines with extras… a blinding beacon of
goodness, especially for anyone with an interest in low budget
filmmaking. You will have so much more appreciation for the flick when
you realize just how guerilla the film was.

First off there’s an 8 page booklet which features notes on the script by The Grudge script Stephen Susco and images from the comic book included in the film (a few of which we ran as exclusives.)

Commentary- with the director. Most of it I already knew from my interview
with him but he’s a really interesting guy and it’s constantly amazing
how they got this much together on such a small film. He tells lots of
interesting stories on the production and gives the whole explanation
of the plot. Some people may not like hearing everything spelled out
for them, but it’s good to see what the creator had in mind. You’ll
want to check this track out.

Blowing up a Car-
Exactly what it sounds like- they show how they got away with blowing
up a car without permits…. and how to do multiple takes with a
limited crew and a massive fire going on in the back of the frame.
Amazing stuff.

Shooting in the House
– Man, was this place nasty. There was the constant fear that the damn
thing would collapse around them, especially since they flooded the
basement for some of the creepier scenes.

John Magdic and his Amazing Flying Machines -
The guy who flew the ultralights that captured some of the soaring
aerial footage talks about his contraptions. Interesting stuff- and he
definitely gave the film a much more interesting look . Guy didn’t even
charge Lance anything!

S.R. Bisette - The Swamp Thing cartoonist
talks about what it was like to create a comic for the movie. Sounds
like a phone interview but it’s edited with footage from the film and
sketches he’s done… interesting stuff.

Cast interviews -
8 minute feature of most of the main actors talking about what they did
to create their characters. They all seem genuinely excited about the
flick.

Music of Head Trauma
– Brian McTear shows off some of his equipment and talks how he went
about creating the tone for the film…. and how he got some of the
stranger sounds in the film. In other news, there is a cd with an
alternate soundtrack to the movie…. we’ll have more news on that soon.

Trailers- for The Last Broadcast and Head Trauma.


Alright, that is just fucking nasty.


The Packaging-

Awesome
looking slipcase that holds an equally cool dvd cover that has an x-ray
of a skull. Love that it’s different art underneath the slipcase….
it’s such a waste when companies put the exact same art twice. The disc
is plain black- gotta dig it. Also- the dvd case is clear and has some
cryptic messages written in the inside that only become clear after
you’ve seen the film…

The Lowdown-

A
must-buy. Anyone who laments not being creeped out by anything but
Asian horror flicks lately would do well to check this out- as well as
anyone who wants to see how to do a smaller flick effectively.

The Movie- 9/10 The Disc- 9/10

1 ring of fire
1 loose tooth
1 hanged person
1 creepy hooded figure