Being a horror fan, I see a lot of movies that are, quite honestly, not very good. Low budgets, bad acting and recycled stories are, more often than not, the norm. Indeed, what other genre experiences such a proliferation of “straight-to-video” releases? Therefore, when I see one that’s good, I tend to get so excited that I run the risk of being too generous in singing its praise. I’m going to take that risk, though, with a little gem called Triangle.
After a handful of screenings at US film festivals, Triangle was basically released straight-to-video this February. However, I would blame/credit that fact on its non-commercial story rather than any lack of quality. British writer/director Christopher Smith (Severance) provides a top-notch thriller with challenging plot and creative cinematography. Everything about it adds to its effectiveness, particularly the traditional score by Christian Henson.
Melissa George (The Amityville Horror, 30 Days of Night) plays Jess, the stressed-out single mother of an autistic boy. Exactly how stressed-out she is will be revealed during the course of the movie’s fast 99 minutes as both the mystery and her wits unravel. For reasons to be explained, she ends up on a sailboat with friends for a weekend cruise. Although the boat is named “Triangle”, I assume they sail into a triangle of the Bermuda kind, because what happens to her and her shipmates is just too weird to happen anywhere else. I’m not talking about the deadly storm that appears out of nowhere to capsize them; rather, the 1930’s ship that then appears to rescue them.
It’s difficult to say much without ruining its surprises, so skip this paragraph to avoid spoilers on multiple movies. Triangle bears more than a passing resemblance to 2007’s Timecrimes; in fact, it’s hooded sniper feels like an obvious acknowledgment of it. I know Timecrimes is a cult favorite, but Triangle is much better! In its entirety, it makes much more sense. For me, Timecrimes fell apart the more convoluted that it became. In contrast, I understood Triangle from start to finish. It doesn’t necessarily explain its twists and turns any better, but they are somehow more coherent and its surprises are, well, more surprising.
Then again, I’m fresh off the 6-year run of Lost and I’ve experienced frequent viewings of one of my favorite movies of all time, Donnie Darko. Maybe the concept of time travel is becoming more comprehensible for me. One thing I’ve learned is not to nitpick; there’s no need to map everything out to see if it makes complete sense. Believe me, it never will. But what Triangle does better than most is make it all seem like it makes complete sense. (I’ve also learned to focus my attention on one character; follow this character from start to finish and don’t get distracted by other versions of this character that may or may not appear.) If you just experience Triangle, by the time it makes its loop, everything clicks and it’s very satisfying.
Besides George, the other standout actor is Liam Hemsworth as Victor (none of the characters have last names). It’s a relatively small role, but he has an amazing presence onscreen. When I looked to see what else he has been in, I was surprised to see he recently shared the lead with Miley Cyrus in The Last Song. I know that’s not a glowing endorsement, but I’m just saying to watch this one; I think he’s going to be something and, like so many others, he can one day say that he got his start in a horror film. (And if that connection brings more of an audience to Triangle, I’m not too proud to mention it.)
Well-written, well-directed and well-acted, Triangle works on all levels to challenge, then satisfy. I found the final reveal to be somewhat heartbreaking, realizing I was more invested than even I knew during everything that preceded it. I really can’t recommend it highly enough. Look at my rating carefully, folks; you won’t often see this!