July 24, 2010

Triangle (2009)

"The story revolves around the passengers of a yachting trip in the Atlantic Ocean who, when struck by mysterious weather conditions, jump to another ship only to experience greater havoc on the open seas."

I love Melissa George so I had to watch this film even though with Christopher "Creep" Smith responsible for writing and helming it, I wasn't entirely sure that it was going to be any good.

It's impossible to say anything about "Triangle" without mentioning "Timecrimes" or "Groundhog Day" since this is very much a horror version of the same thing. It's derivative for sure but there's no comedy either intentionally or unintentionally here. The best way to describe it would be as a very anxious and tense "Twilight Zone" style thriller with some gory bits.

Having got that out of the way, the whole time loop scenario has been done to death and for those of us with short attention spans the thought of watching something else that is guaranteed to turn our brains inside out is not a pleasant one. There are further complications to this story too in that none of the characters have any memory of what has gone before. Every time things reset, the main character, Jess, has to pick up clues about what to do which are left over from the previous time loop. It gives me a headache just thinking about it!

The peculiar thing is that there are at least two Jesses in every time loop. One tries to guide the other without giving away her identity for reasons which aren't fully explained but may have some kind of Doctor Who reasoning behind them about two versions not being able to occupy the same space. That theory doesn't really hold up as the motivation often seems to be a simple fear of being discovered but to say any more would give away too much of the plot.

At its most basic level, "Triangle" is a kind of slasher film with time loop layers which lead back to the start of the film. Confusingly, the very start of the film turns out to not really be the beginning of the time loop at all because there's a twist which gives you the motivation for why any of this is happening in the first place. For those of us with a Classical education, this is very much a combination of the myths of Sisyphus and Tantalus although only the former gets a mention. Just when you think Jess has succeeded, the prize is taken away from her and she has to start again. I would call that tantalising myself. Time loops are big in ancient Greek mythology and often used as punishment in the afterlife. Remember that if you don't quite understand the ending. It's not a cop out like the end of "Lost" though but it will have you thinking.

"Triangle" really is Melissa George's vehicle. She acts her heart out, fights, screams, runs, and turns out to be not quite so meek and mild as her pretty face suggests. She does everything in it apart from get nude which is probably only a bit of a disappointment to me. Normal people will be satisfied with everything she does rather than hoping for a peek at her bunny rabbits' noses.

The other actors are pretty good too even though they don't have such a long time on screen. A couple of the guys have never been in anything else but the girls are both from TV backgrounds. I was particularly impressed by one of them but I won't tell you who as you'll have to see this film for yourself to find out why.

There's a fair bit of gore to this too. It's not overdone but it's there and quite effective when it happens. Couple that with a good use of tension and you have a pretty good horror film on your hands. Unfortunately, the tension often turns into an atmosphere of frustration which makes the whole film very tiring to watch. It's a bit of a rollercoaster and it will make your head hurt.

As with all time loop stories, there do seem to be a few plotholes but, the more I thought about it afterwards, they aren't anything that can't be explained away. I like that attention to detail even if I prefer more straightforward stories in general. Christopher Smith allegedly spent two years on the script so you have to give credit where it is due. The dialogue might be a bit sparse but everything else is quite polished especially when you consider the low-budget.

I think this was one of the best films of its kind that I've seen. It's not quite as good as "Timecrimes" but it isn't far off. You probably couldn't watch both films back to back either without having some kind of cerebral aneurysm and I wouldn't want to even try. I'm not even sure that I could watch either of them again either.

If you want something to think about rather than the usual "blood and boobs" horror then you definitely need to rent or buy "Triangle". It doesn't have many scares or shocks but it is a very clever film.

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