FEATURE: Shocktober - Triangle

Over the course of October, I shall be watching one horror movie a day and reviewing it right here for your reading pleasure. I haven't seen any of the films I'll be watching before and you can find the full list here.

To describe the plot of Triangle is to give away the film's biggest asset, a sense of constant and necessary bewilderment. Describing the set up, in which single mother Jess is invited on a sailing trip by a friend which goes badly wrong, is much easier, but anything after that starts giving too much away. It doesn't lay the explanations for any of the film's events on thick either; they simply happen and it is left to your own conclusions as to why. In narratives such as this, there's a fine line between frustrating and fascinating. Fortunately, Triangle manages to stay just the right side of this.

It's aided by a great central performance from Melissa George. I'm not traditionally the actress' biggest fan, but she's excellent here, handling an extremely demanding role that calls for a wide variety of emotions and reactions with ease. The supporting cast doesn't quite match up to George and range from marginally sympathetic to entirely dispensible. It works within the context of the film though and really, a stronger supporting cast would have distracted from Jess' central conflict.

The film around Jess is constructed very cleverly with Christopher Smith utilising its repetitive nature to produce something increasingly inventive. Smith explores cause and effect through a series of mounting set pieces that intersect and interlink effortlessly. It's a heady mix that offers as many puzzles as it does solutions and Smith is an assured hand guiding the audience through. Compared to his earlier work, the wry and blackly comic Severance, Triangle is a much more serious affair. In an earlier review of Snowtown, I spoke about films which were experiences. Although vastly different to that film, Triangle feels very similar. It's designed to put the audience through the wringer and force them to ask questions about not only what's going on, but how they would react in a particular situation.

There's a wider commentary here about the cyclical nature of human behaviour. We fall into patterns, hang out with similar friends and go through the same daily motions without really stopping to analyse why we do them. These patterns can be healthy and a sense of routine is often necessary for people to feel safe and secure in their daily lives. In others, this routine is much more depressing, a way in which people are trapped into behaving a certain way because it's what they're used to and how they function. Triangle uses this to quite chilling effect in the film's closing moments, answering one set of questions only to ask a whole new set before ending.

Sadly, this payoff isn't quite as satisfying as the events preceding it, but not because it asks those questions at the end without any intention of answering them. It's more that the film sets up the ending so well, building the tension and tightening the screws on Jess so much that her final scenes feel cold, and anti-climactic. It doesn't detract too much from the overall quality of the film itself; it's just a shame that it doesn't match up to what has gone before.

Thanks to a strong central performance and a sharp execution of the central concept, Triangle is a memorable experience and a puzzle that needs to be watched a few times to be unravelled. 

- Becky

You can check out the full list of Shocktober reviews so far here.

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