Head Trauma is the story of George Walker, a paranoid rambling man, who inherits a house from his grandmother in hopes of improving it, however it takes no time at all before things take a real bad turn. George (Mola) already has more than his share of bad dreams, including violent visions of himself suffering some horrible fates, when he arrives at the ruined house.
The house itself is slated for demolition, and George is trying to postpone its destruction. Every night brings the intrusion of new forces, living and maybe not, forcing viewers to question how much George is dreaming, and what is really happening in the house.
George soon meets Julian (Mangan), the next-door neighbor who is reluctant to help him. He’s reunited with Mary (Monahan), a childhood flame, who runs the hardware store, and runs in to several others who want the house to go. All the while, he is haunted by hauntings of a hooded man, causing him to constantly drink, and question how much of what he’s seeing is real.
His visions get worse as he becomes obsessed with a religious pamphlet he finds under a pay phone. The images become a larger part of George’s focus and obsession, moving from his nightmares to his every waking moment. Finally, with help from Julian, George answers the questions about himself, his past and the house..
Weiler has set up some great scenes to create a horrific setting. The basement has been sabotaged and flooded, creating a dark foundation where the light reflects off of the water. Remnants of the house’s former inhabitants float freely, causing eerie shadows and tricks of the brain. Admittedly, the entire film is a trick of the brain…George’s brain. Viewers are just along for the ride.
Another odd setup is George’s sleeping arrangement. With no clean beds or real furniture, George sleeps in a tent in the middle of a living room, anchored by a cinderblock. This allows for great approach shots, as well as the isolation of not knowing what lies on the other side of the canvas.
Weiler’s Philadelphia background sneaks into the story, creating depth and a touch of kindness to George and Julian. Mola handles the easy parts of George’s ride comfortably, but really shines when the role calls for a broader range of emotions. Mangan’s naïve Julian provides the perfect sounding board, while revealing what Julian knows and fears.
Head Trauma is a well-shot, creepy experience, subjecting viewers to the unfolding visions of a troubled wanderer. The end result is an appealing film, with captivating visuals, trippy sound, and incredibly well-developed characters.
Extras include a number of featurettes, including shooting in the creepy house, blowing up the car and pieces on the aerial photography and artwork. There are also trailers for the film, cast interviews and a piece on the music with composers Brian McTear and Amy Morrisey. There is an accompanying director’s commentary track as well, making for a nice package of extras.
The film’s website (www.headtraumamovie.com) is slickly done, including an online comic accompanying the story. Also listed are upcoming screenings, blogs and fan sites, and more.