Crash Analysis: HEAD TRAUMA (2006)

One of the greatest low budget horrors of all time

Character study of guilt and retribution

Screenwriter and Director Lance Weiler’s film (Brian Majeska shared writing duties) is an unexpected, quality driven dramatic horror that sinks deep and doesn’t let go long after the end credits roll. Using “any means necessary,” Weiler delivers a solid feature of milieu and atmosphere, psychology and imagery. Without a doubt, after watching over 1,250 horrors, and many of them low budget, this is one of the very best I’ve ever seen.

Though some say the movie is slow, they’re missing the point. Horror is not just blood, guts and action; in fact, nailing down a definition may lead to a full-blown migraine. This is a character study of George Walker, the teen who left home and came back as a man to reclaim his grandmother’s residence from demolition. However, from the opening credits, George quickly learns that one can’t go home again.

Vince Mola is rock solid as the tormented and slightly off protagonist whose only apparent goal is to fix up his deceased grandmother’s abode and sell it. On this adventure, which spans a mere set of days, George encounters old neighbors, both good (the Thompson family) and bad (Chester Jackson), and old romantic interests (Mary Sherman). Woven throughout are George’s nightmares, which seem tie in to a Christian-based “Come to Jesus” booklet and that of a missing young woman.

Throughout the film, Weiler brings us perfect lighting, the excellent cinematography of Sam Levy, great characters, surprises and enough imagery (minus the heavy-handedness of Lars Von Trier) to paint an extraordinarily vivid picture of internal strife. From aerial shots, thanks to an ultra-light pilot who accepted a case of beer and gas money, to the wonderful visual effects of Scott Hale and Andy Williams, to the perfect score by Brian McTear and Amy Morrissey, this is one of the most well constructed narratives I’ve seen in some time.

As for story, though seemingly simple and oft heard, there is far more to it than that. The tale intrigues and even in the end, one can argue and discuss about several points. And no, this does not mean the story leaves the audience hanging, yet there is no perfect bow on the package either, just like real life. Whether intentional or not, Weiler and Majeska have created a story that walks the fine line between a boring and blatant American ending where everything is explained to the obscure endings of Europe that usually leave Americans scratching their heads. This well-crafted finish should satisfy the cinematic needs of both groups.

Also known for the gripping THE LAST BROADCAST, Weiler continues to create solid features. I only hope someone with deep pockets will sponsor his future full-length projects so we can enjoy more of his dramatic stories of absorbing atmosphere and character.

4.5 out of 5 stars