A thriller with plenty of foreboding atmosphere and not much else, Trauma is a gruelling slog with very little at the end of it. It's British director Marc Evans' follow-up to his effective if rather nasty My Little Eye and he's proven again that he could direct a fine horror film if only he could get hold of a good script. Trauma just doesn't have enough substance to hold the attention, its surprises rarely surprise and its attempts at creepiness keep calling to mind other movies. The most obvious inspiration is Jacob's Ladder, Adrian Lyne's 1990 shocker from which Trauma borrows its basic premise and much of its imagery, even down to the sinister figures with the flapping heads. At least it doesn't steal the ending, which makes it one of the few recent horror films that doesn't.
Ben (Colin Firth), a painter and decorator living in London, wakes up in hospital following a serious car accident to learn the crash killed his beloved wife Elisa (Naomie Harris). He isn't alone in his grieving: the whole nation is mourning the senseless murder of pop superstar Lauren Parris, someone Ben had known vaguely through his wife's work as a dancer. Slowly he pieces his life back together, going back to work for his friend Tommy (Tommy Flanagan) and moving into a new flat in a converted hospital whose young American landlady Charlotte (Mena Suvari) develops a crush on him. However, clues implying all is not as it seems keep mounting up. He spots a woman who looks like his dead wife on the street, he finds himself becoming ghoulishly obsessed with the Lauren Parris investigation and police inspector Jackson (Kenneth Cranham) places him on a shortlist of suspects for the singer's murder.
Helping to maintain some interest in the events onscreen are the excellent cinematography by John Mathieson, who makes London look like a dangerous, decaying place, and a strong lead performance by Colin Firth. He's not the first actor you'd think of for a role like this - Ben is the kind of character Gary Oldman and Robert Carlyle often play - but he does a respectable job and his sourness for once seems appropriate. As is customary in films like this, the supporting cast are restricted by having to play people who may or may not be what we first think but Brenda Fricker does make an impression as an unusually convincing movie medium. There is also one memorably macabre scene. I don't know if there really is such a condition as being "allergic to spiders" but I do know that anyone with a fear of the creatures should think twice before seeing this.
Last updated: 19/04/2018 11:42:15