If we’re talking shapes this time-bending, mind-breaking horror/thriller would have perhaps been more aptly named ‘circle’ or better still ‘Spiral’! Man, this film is deep… but perhaps to its detriment?
Oddly, despite the films very symbolic premise, the title simply refers to the boat via which a group of young adult’s sail to a rather repetitive sequence of demise.
In fact, that’s about the only simple thing this film has to offer. Without wanting to give to much away the synopsis: “When Jess sets sail on a yacht with a group of friends, she cannot shake the feeling that there is something wrong. Her suspicions are realized when the yacht hits a storm and the group is forced to board a passing ocean liner to get to safety, a ship Jess is convinced she’s been on before. The ship appears deserted, the clock on board has stopped, but they are not alone… Someone is intent on hunting them down, one by one. And Jess unknowingly holds the key to end the terror”
I should warn you, that whilst I will do my best not to give an big spoilers away, it’s going to be difficult to review without discussing the plot at all – so if your intrigued (and it is well worth the watch) its perhaps better to watch the film and then come back to my review.
The films plot plays out in two key halves, the first, a mysterious horror-style scenario as the group board the abandoned vessel, with its creepy network of corridors and abandoned feature rooms offering a sufficiently eerie backdrop through which to let the atmosphere descend. A death early on in the film helps to unsettle the group, and with the character Jess freaking out all over the place its not long before the onscreen nervousness begins to permeate off-screen. The film is tense and whilst the acting is reasonable, the characters themselves are pretty one dimensional; that said, given the nature of the film, that’s not a problem, but it would have been a nice touch if the other characters, outside of Jess actually had a purpose!
Once the initial threat reveals itself – an armed assailant sporting a brown bag on their head – the film enjoys a brief change in pace, playing out like a regular slasher movie, however, this linearity is short lived.
At around the 40-minute mark the film shows its true hand and transforms from typical genre fayre into time altering scenario where Jess must repeat and repeat the scenario over and over, each time piecing different elements of the plot together – although not necessarily in chronological order!
Indeed, we get to the nub of things here. This film is really quite clever. Even when you feel a continuity has appeared in the course of the films repetitive looping, later in the course of events things gradually get explained. The writing is impressive, and the films set pieces are complex enough to keep you guessing as to the film’s conclusion (or in-fact, what is even going on), and the exposition is enough through each ‘cycle’ of events so as to keep you moving forwards into your understanding of Jess’ situation – even if ever so slightly.
I feel this film straddles the fine line between accessibility/ enjoyability with complexity really well, similar to other films with a similar premise (e.g. ‘Time Crimes), as opposed to simply blowing your mind with sheer confusion (e.g. Primer). That said, there are going to be moments in this film where you just don’t get it, and when you reach that state you also come to the realisation that the film has lost its horror edge, its atmosphere and tension dissipating with each exposition. That’s a bit of a shame really, I felt that other mystery style films such as ‘Identity’ managed to hold the tension for just that little bit longer.
Despite this, I felt the ending concluded the story in a satisfying way, and it’s clear the film never intended to dip anything but a little toe into horror genre waters, so perhaps I should be grateful it had those elements in it at all!
Overall, the more I think about ‘Triangle’ the more I realise that its actually offers more of a film than the first viewing might have suggested. I wouldn’t say its unique (nautical location aside), but it certainly has something about it that will make it stick in the mind. ‘Triangle’ is well worth a watch if you want modern horror-tropes blended with a thinking man’s plot; there’s a nice tie-in with Sisyphus’ plight, for those interested in mythology to boot.