While Hollywood plays it safe with a diet of remakes, re-imaginings and rehashes of classic horror movies it’s down to independent filmmakers to give horror fans what they really want – original, thought-provoking films that stay with you long after the credits have ended. Lance Weiler’s second feature Head Trauma is just such a beast.
The basics are simple enough. After a 20-year absence, George Walker returns to his late grandmother's home in the hope of saving the condemned building. Late one night he finds an intruder in the house. The ensuing struggle leads to George taking a blow to the head, and that’s when the fun starts.
George begins to experience dreams full of nightmarish imagery, including a mysterious hooded figure. Soon the lines between reality and imagination start to blur as the dreams bleed through into his waking world.
To go into more detail about the plot would be to do the film a disservice; one of its pleasures is the way the story slowly unfolds, giving us bits of information that we have to unravel in much the same way George does. Almost the entire film is told from George’s perspective and this gives the viewer a front row seat as George's psyche becomes increasingly fractured.
While George Walker is the centre of the movie, he has two important relationships that help add depth both to his character and the film as a whole. Julian Thompson is a young African American who gets enlisted to help him clean up the house and while he at first resents it, he gradually builds up a relationship with George that allows the viewer some insight into what the man was like before he disappeared 20 years before.
Equally important although having far less screen time, is Mary Sherman, an old flame from George’s past. It’s clear from his scenes with Mary that George is trying to save more than just his grandmother's house; he’s also trying to turn the clock back on their relationship. But, like the Moody Blues said “You can never go home” and Mary’s ultimate rejection acts as a sort of catalyst for the film's climax.