Posted by guest reviewer Steve Anderson
If you’ve ever taken a surprise blow to the head, you know very well how seemingly fragile the nature of reality actually is. Even if you haven’t, you may well have had those moments of unreality that cause you to think twice about where you are and what role you play in that particular locale. HEAD TRAUMA is going to have you feeling that disconnection all over again, and this time, loving it.
So what we have here plot wise is the story of a drifter, George Walker, who’s come back home after a good long while of drifting to stake his claim to his deceased grandmother’s abandoned house. Which is probably pretty good for a drifter—chances are he doesn’t actually have one yet, and the first two minutes will prove that pretty solidly. Anyway, this new house gives George a shot at the American Dream, and he tries his best to live up to it. He’s fixing up the somewhat rundown and very much boarded up place by day, but by night, he’s having some really unpleasant dreams / hallucinations / tequila comas about a hooded figure that he sees on a comic book left behind in a phone booth, much in the same fashion you occasionally find those Jack Chick tracts lying around. And then, twenty minutes in, you actually discover that it’s exactly like a Jack Chick tract.
Now, this is actually a cool little detail, because included in the DVD, just behind the front jacket, is a little kind of mini comic book explaining a bit more about the movie and its assorted origins. Inclusion of the comic was definitely a good idea. When you consider the nature of the movie as the whole, the unreality of the whole thing, adding a bit of the movie into reality is definitely a touch that increases the unreality of it all. It would be like watching EVIL DEAD II one day and getting your very own copy of the Kandarian Demon incantations on a CD inside the DVD jacket. Plus, the feel of the movie is like half David Lynch movie, half THIS OLD HOUSE rerun. It’s surrealist with just a touch of home improvement.
Check out the action at twenty-two minutes and fifty-seven seconds—it’s that kind of sequence that really makes you question the reality of what’s going on here. Which makes sense—we’re questioning what’s going on just as much as George is. Within the next four minutes, you really start to question the reality of things around here in a truly bone chilling fashion. Kudos to director Weiler and company for a fantastic scary shot at thirty-three minutes and twenty-four seconds. Only rewind and frame advance could prove just what that was, but man, it made me jump. As if that weren’t enough, check out the action at the forty-seven minute mark as we get no less than a three-stroke scare sequence. One scary thing that leads into another that leads into a third. It’s fantastic work—nothing but.
And of course, the more we see of George’s return to his grandmother’s old house, the more we begin to wonder how much of what he sees is real, and how much of what we see is the result of his own brain damage. Check out the scene just ahead of the one hour and four minute mark. That one will have you questioning reality left, right and center.
The ending is nothing short of mindblowing, with a couple of really spectacular sequences, and does a surprisingly good job of tying up all the loose ends spawned by the rest of the movie. The special features include featurettes “Blowing Up a Car,” “Shooting in the House”, “Johnny Madgic and His Amazing Flying Machines”, “S.R. Bissette Discusses the Art of Head Trauma”, cast interviews, a piece on the music of HEAD TRAUMA, and trailers for THE LAST BROADCAST and HEAD TRAUMA.
All in all, Weiler’s HEAD TRAUMA will leave you scratching yours in the midst of a fantastic, scary ride that leaves no unanswered questions and does its job with the utmost competence and sheer unalloyed glee. Great stuff by any standards and thoroughly worth your time to rent.
RATING: **** out of four