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Trauma
Aura

Italy/USA 1993
produced by
Dario Argento, David Pash (executive), Andrea Tinnirello (executive) for ADC Films, Overseas FilmGroup
directed by Dario Argento
starring Asia Argento, Christopher Rydell, Piper Laurie, Frederic Forrest, Laura Hohnson, Dominique Serrand, James Russo, Ira Belgrade, Brad Dourif, Hope Alexander-Willis, Sharon Barr, Isabell O'Connor, Cory Garvin, Terry Perkins, Tony Saffold, Peter Moore, Lester Purry, David Chase, Jacqueline Kim, Rita Vassallo, Stephen D'Ambrose, Bonita Parsons, Gregory Beech, Kevin Dutcher, Kathy Quirk, E.A.Violet Boor, Les Exodus, Onesmo Kibira, Innocent Mafalingundi, Charles Petrus, Lance Pollonais, Fiore Argento, Ric McCloud
story by Dario Argento, Franco Ferrini, Gianni Romoli, screenplay by Dario Argento, T.E.D.Klein, additional dialogue by Ruth Jessup, music by Pino Donaggio, special makeup effects by Tom Savini

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Illustrator David (Christopher Rydell) saves young and anorexic Aura (Asia Argento) from killing herself by juming off a bridge - and as a thank you, she steals his money ... but she doesn't get far as two cops pick her up and return her to her parents (Piper Laurie, Dominique Serrand), who in turn want to send her to the Farraday Clinic she escaped from - but not before holding a seance. The seance goes somehow wrong though, and both Aura's parents are killed and she sees the killer make off with their heads. Aura is taken in by the police for questioning, but since the cops then want to hand her over to Doctor Judd (Frederic Forrest) from the Farraday Clinic, she takes off, and since she knows noone else in town, hooks up with David again - who soon falls for the girl, much to the dismay of his girlfriend (Laura Johnson), who soon enough calls the clinic to take her back again.

Since David knows there just has to be something wrong with the clinic, he charges to the rescue - and not a minute too early, since the killer of Aura's parents also pays the clinic a visit and has started killing and beheading people.

David and Aura now want to find out what's really going on, and in a photo they find within the belongings of a killed nurse of the clinic, they find pictures of all the victims of the killer so far and then some ... but when they try to track down those on the photo still alive, they always seem to come a heartbeat too late, and the (decapitated) bodies just start piling up like nobody's business.

Ultimately, one night David finds Doctor Judd leaning over Aura in her bed, and he manages to chase him off. but during the getaway, Judd's car crashes and he dies - and in his trunk, the severed heads of all the victims can be found - so the case is closed, right?

Almost, thing is, right then and there, Aura disappears, leaving David nothing but a note that she has rejoined her mother - which he interprets as a suicide note, even if her dead body is never found. But eventually, David runs across Aura's mother who's still very much alive, and who has actually comitted all the killings herself ... and it is not long before she has David and Aura locked in a cage and prepares to kill them as well - when a boy from the neighbourhood actually kills her with the contraption she has used to decapitate her victims.

But why did she do it?

You see, all of the woman's victims were somehow involved in her son's death at birth who knows how many years back because of experimenting with a new drug, and then they managed to cover it up, too - and now she figured it was payback time.

 

Trauma is not a bad movie as such, it's a visually accomplished murder mystery/serialkiller movie (or giallo, if you may) that might leave something to be desired plotwise but offers some graphic gore scenes (not too many though) and quite a few suspense sequences, with Pino Donaggio's music resembling Bernard Herrmann's scores for Hitchcock. At the same time though, Trauma is not one of Dario Argento's better films, it by and large lacks the outrageous setpieces Argento has become famous for, its plot is just a little too contrived for an Argentop flick while at the same time, it's not exciting enough, and Christopher Rydell is one of the weakest leads he has ever worked with.

The one real sensation of Trauma though is young Asia Argento playing the 16 year old anorexic (while being hardly any older in real life at the time), who gives an amazingly mature and compelling performance - and she is the one real reason to watch the movie despite everything!

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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On the same day
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A Killer Conversation

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directed by
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written by
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