Beyond Scary Faces and Creepy Places

If you were to ask me how I would have defined horror movies before taking up this class, I would put it as a kind of movie that features supernatural elements that haunts the protagonists of the film. Anything that has to do with ghosts, exorcisms, and the like are the movies that I would classify as a horror film. These are the movies that scared me, so these are the only films in which I would consider a horror film.

How appropriate was it for me that “Triangle” was the first movie we watched? What a better way to get interested in a class than to basically that everything I know about the subject in hand was, in a sense, wrong.  This was a reality check that there is more to horror than people dying and jump-scares. What I knew was only scratching the surface level of the genre and it actually goes beyond scary faces and creepy places.

As discussed in class, the horror genre is very unique in a sense that it is the only genre to be defined by the kind of emotion that it instills in its viewers. Affect horror, as John Clute puts it, is visible in the text if it is able to generate certain emotions. For the 2009 film “Triangle”, although it does not follow the orthodox build of a horror film, can still be classified as such. It is an effect-based film, because of the emotions that it tries to make you feel during or after watching the movie.

But, I was still iffy as to how this film became a horror film. After all, I am taking up a course that is about horror film itself, so there must be something more about this film that would make it classified as under horror.

Given my initial view of what a horror film is, I was pleasantly surprised that “Triangle” did not have any ghosts or such instead, however the protagonist, Jess is stuck in an inescapable loop where she has to do everything she can to survive and go home to her son. I would like to analyze this film by using the 4 tropes of horror found in “Darkening Garden: A Short Lexicon of Horror” by John Clute.

At the film’s prologue my heart was starting to race already as the sighting, through the different signs and symbolism, was already setting the tone of the movie and is hinting at the things to come. like the eerily telling close-up shot of the toy boat in the pool showed at the start of the movie is like telling is audience in a subtle way that something is about to go down.

As the thickening of the plot arises because of the storm that hit their boat, and the old ship “Aeolus” that came out of nowhere. The viewers begin to wonder how the boat that saved the protagonists is seemingly empty and the viewers are now on the edge of their seats knowing that the “horror” aspect of the film is happening already. Strange events bombarded the viewers that made them question what the hell is really going on, like Jess’s déjà vu moment, her keys found on the hallway, and the blood writing on the mirror in one of the rooms. Viewers are left with more questions than answers and at this point, things turn to the strange as an apparent killer is in the boat and is hunting own each of the protagonists, until Jess herself is the last one leaving her to fend off the killer. The revel of the movie is seen at this point of the movie, or the horror movie’s version of deus ex machina, which is revealed that the killer is apparently Jess herself. She then repeats this loop over and over with seemingly no escape. However, Jess finds out that she can manipulate the events every time she repeats the loop. She tries different ways in order to escape the loop however, no matter what she does, the aftermath remains the same. It is revealed that by seemingly killing her “present self” in her house she can actually prevent herself from entering the boat. This leads to her car crash, her son dying, and arriving at the pier, how the movie started, revealing that she was still in the never-ending cycle. This makes the story “no longer storyable”, and ends the movie.

By discussing the 4 tropes of a horror film, we can conclude that “Triangle” can be classified as a horror movie, contrary to my belief before the lecture. What was surprising that it actually had all the tools of being a classified as horror and even if does not fall under a generic horror film.It’s safe to say that I am excited for all the films that we will tackle in class in hopes of having a deeper understanding of this genre.


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


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