Starring: Melissa George, Joshua McIvor, Jack Taylor & Liam Hemsworh
Written by: Christopher Smith
Directed by: Christopher Smith
Running Time: 1hr 39mins
WINNER – FANGORIA CHAINSAW AWARDS: Best Actress (Melissa George), Best Screenplay (Christopher Smith) and Best Score (Christian Henson)
NOMINEE – FRIGHT METER AWARDS: Best Actress (Melissa George), Best Screenplay (Christopher Smith)
WINNER – GÉRARDMER FILM FESTIVAL: Best Stright to Video Film (Christopher Smith)
Watching TRIANGLE for the first time wasn’t just a discovery of a film that I’d never heard of, but also the discovery of a fascinating filmmaker whose work I’d never seen. Writer/Director Christopher Smith turned out to be a real find and as much as films like CREEP (his first) and BLACK DEATH really stand out as must see movies, TRIANGLE may be his crowning achievement. It’s a film that I rented for the first time twenty years ago solely because of the two great reviews placed on the DVD cover and it really surprised me. The film is filled with so many twists and turns that you would expect to discover a plethora of plot holes and predictable moments, but neither ever happens and by the time I got to the film’s final revelation, I knew that I had just watched something special.
TRIANGLE is a hard movie to write about. To reveal too much of the plot (as many reviewers have done) would be a disservice to the audience. I’ll just say this – TRIANGLE tells the story of Jess, a mother of an autistic child who seems to desperately need a day to herself. As she heads out on a yacht trip with a group of friends, they find themselves in the midst of a storm that overturns their boat and leaves them stranded in the middle of nowhere. Stumbling upon a rundown cruise ship, the group boards it in hopes of finding some help. Unfortunately, as they walk through the corridors, they can’t seem to find anyone on board, that is until they run into a masked figure hellbent on killing each and every one of them… and this is where the real story begins. As you can probably tell by my description, the plot at first seems very straightforward and unoriginal until, all of a sudden, the rules we have become familiar with in this kind of setup quickly take a 90 degree turn into something very unexpected. What starts as a story that seems way too familiar turns into a disturbing, mind-bending thrill ride filled with twist after twist after twist, leading up to an incredibly shocking and satisfying conclusion.
TRIANGLE’s script is the key to the film’s success. It is both complicated and confusing by design. Writer/Director Christopher Smith does an amazing job figuring out how to keep the audience guessing, carefully calculating where and when to reveal the pieces to the puzzle he has created. Smith seems to have sought to confuse audiences and keep them off-balance, knowing that no matter how lost the viewer may get while on this journey, all will be explained and audiences will fully understand everything by the film’s final moments. He uses this way of baffling the viewer to make it easier for us to relate to Jess and her feelings of confusion. The more confused we get mirrors the more confused she gets as the situation begins to overwhelm her and as her friends start to question her sanity. The film also shows faith in the intelligence of its audience by not playing it safe and giving us obvious answers with clumsy reveals and explanations. Revelations are weaved throughout the running time and we discover them as Jess slowly puts the pieces together. Nobody ever gives us that speech that explains it all. We, as the audience, are treated as smart and allowed to figure it out along with her.
The supporting cast does a fine job playing their parts as their characters slowly start to turn on Jess, thinking that she is losing her mind (this would be so much easier to write about if there was no fear of spoiling things). Still, it is the character Jess, played by Melissa George, that really holds it all together. George does a great job playing a character who starts to slowly unravel as her world seems to come apart and the things around her start to become more and more unreal. The range of emotions that she portrays without ever going overboard is handled really well. A role that could have so easily come off as fake and over the top never feels that way as we, the audience, are really drawn into Jess’s plight.
The direction here is also first-rate as the imagery (and dialogue) sometimes becomes symbolic of what is truly happening underneath it all, giving us small hints to the true nature of the puzzle. Clues are so well integrated into what is being said and shown that upon watching the film a second time (similar to the experience most had with the more popular THE SIXTH SENSE), you will wonder how you missed what was right in front of your face. From its homage to THE SHINING (with the ship’s eerily empty hallways) to references to both the God Aeolus and the story of Sisyphus, viewers will enjoy a whole new experience the second time around as they pick up on the many hints that Smith has layered throughout the movie as clues to what is really happening.
Smith also paces the film perfectly, creating a creepy slow build as the group makes their way through the ship, looking for anybody who may be able to help them and then throwing everything off balance when the elements all start to come apart. Working with editor Stuart Gazzard, he effectively sets a pace throughout, keeping everything moving forward while never feeling like the typical Hollywood thriller.
TRIANGLE is the perfect example of why we need to be out there recommending underseen gems. Smaller movies like this often get lost amongst the bigger budgeted studio fare and that’s a real shame. The script is cleverly constructed and doesn’t talk down to its audience and once the film gets started, you will literally be on the edge of your seat trying to figure out what is really going on. The character’s inner emotions and arc are more important than the plot, as the real story is what is mentally going on in Jess’s head as we move towards the final moments of revelation. Some people have been known to compare movies like this to a rollercoaster ride. Triangle is more like a rollercoaster ride with all the corkscrews and loops thrown in for good measure.
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