The Un-horrifying Horror

Even if the Christopher Smith’s movie, Triangle (2009), identifies as a horror film (in this horror film class, at least), I would personally say that I didn’t find it scary. For me, due to how I did not find the film relatable or possible, I just sat back, relaxed, and cruised through the film as the main character, Jess (Melissa George), eventually made it back to shore toward the film’s revel. I just never saw myself getting into the same situation as the movie’s protagonist. I didn’t think I’ll ever get on a small boat and sail to the ocean (I’m actually pretty terrified of the ocean, so if one thing scared me it was that), go through the weird hallucinations she experienced on-board the Aeolus, or see myself reliving events that have happened to me over, and over again.

Prior to the previous lecture, I was guilty of failing to categorize movies that failed to scare me as horror films. Naturally, I would categorize ones such Triangle as more of mystery, suspense, or thriller films. Heck, IMDB, a reliable source for movie and TV content, feels the same, as it classifies the film under “Fantasy/Mystery/Thriller.” Little did I know, there was actually a relationship between the genres of fantasy and horror.

According to an excerpt from John Clute’s The Darkening Garden: A Short Lexicon of Horror, the horror film is much more than the feeling it tries to elicit. Horror films, even if they are not horrifying, can still be classified under the said genre. He states that horror films that operate under the common understanding that they are there to scare you can be known as “Affect Horror.” He stated that Affect Horrors “generate certain emotions.” In this case, horror films are supposed to generate, horror among its viewers. But then he continues that this works more for non-fantastic horror than fantastic horror. Triangle is the perfect movie that explains the difference between horror that is just meant to scare the living hell out of you, and horror that contains the different tropes and elements of the genre.

As I mentioned earlier, IMDB classifies Triangle under the genre called fantasy. Also mentioned was that Affect Horrors work more for non-fantastic horror films rather than fantastic horror films. Put two and two together and you can see here that Triangle is a fantastic horror film that operates under a definition John Clute mentions as, “Strange Stories,” which are not to be mistaken for Affect Horrors. These are, as also mentioned in class, “Tales of Estrangement” where the basic premise is separation and singling out of characters until characters are reduced in numbers until a select couple rise up and solve the mystery (or also die, leaving behind a crazy aftermath and possibly an unsolved mystery). Throughout this blog entry, I have mentioned two of the four elements in a Tale of Estrangement. On top of the revel and the aftermath, the other two elements are the concept’s first two, which are the sighting and thickening. These elements are exactly those which Triangle possesses, solidifying it as a horror film that classifies under a “Strange Story” rather than an “Affect Horror.”

The sighting happens when there are some predictions that happens for the future of the movie which hook the viewers to the narrative. Some instances of this happening in the film are when the group first bumps into the Aeolus after they get stranded in the middle of nowhere, as well as when Jess says that she feels she’s been on that boat before. Assuming that the title of the movie refers to the Bermuda Triangle, scrolled through YouTube under the same search query to see its significance, and to my surprise I saw multiple video lists which describe disappearances that have happened there. In one of the lists, which is entitled “Mysterious Bermuda Triangle Disappearances,” the very first story narrates one where a crew on-board a ship called the Ellen Austin disappeared after its crew sailed past and boarded onto a mysterious ship which had no one on board (sound familiar?). These scenes were some kind of foreshadowing of what was to come.

Thickening happened when she was going around the ship seeing all kinds of clues such as the blood writing on the mirror, her house keys, and her friends accusing her of killing one of the members of the group. These were scenes wherein the reality she was in was slowly getting peeled off to reveal the next element. In connection to this, the revel was around when Jess realizes that she can change the past the get everyone off the ship my manipulating past events by interfering with her “present” self. It is a scene where the world in which the characters, in particular Jess, was revealed to her after everything she encountered on that ship, from seeing herself kill her friends, to her realizing she was going against herself. After all this, the aftermath was when she finally realized that everything she had gone through was a vicious cycle which she was a part of and could not escape. This was marked during the scene where she got into a car crash, leading to a crashing down of the world on her. Just when she thought everything was fine, everything she had worked hard for just crumbled right before her, as her kid was killed and she was on her way towards the scene in the beginning of the film where she was back at the dock.

Upon its conclusion, Triangle did not have the feel of a horror film. It did not elicit the kind of feelings that the normal horror film would make its viewers experience. But, in a deeper analysis of the film, it actually has the basic elements of a fantastic Tale of Estrangement which technically does make it a horror film.


Clute, John. The Darkening Garden: A Short Lexicon of Horror. Cauheegan, Wisc.: Payseur & Schmidt, 2006. Print.

“Mysterious Bermuda Triangle Disappearances.” YouTube. YouTube, 22 Aug. 2015. Web. 01 Feb. 2017.

“Triangle (2009).” IMDb., n.d. Web. 01 Feb. 2017.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s