WHAT?!? My first reaction upon watching the Christopher Smith film, Triangle (2009), was being completely surprised. What just happened? At first glance, I first thought that the film would be a creepy, weird, and freighting film just based from the title alone. Having to watch it in a Horror Film class pretty much ensured that everything about this movie would be really terrifying. But right when the camera began to pan out and the screen started to turn dark, which would signify the end of the movie, I felt that I was completely mislead. How was the film a Horror film? Yeah there were some pretty good jump scares and yes I think the entire film was a bit creepy and weird, but I felt that it wasn’t scary at all. Horror films were suppose to evoke fear and make you uneasy knowing that something scary was about to happen. In the middle of it, I even got a bit bored having to watch practically the same thing all over again, and again, and again. Why then would this be considered a horror film?
I may have had a perceived conception that all horror films must have a scary commodity, ghost, monster, or killer that is up to ruin the lives of the characters in the movie. That was what the horror genre was for me. This so happened to be the same definition of David J. Russell (1998) where he said that horror films are “centred around it’s monster character and the conflict arising in the fantastical and unreal monster’s relationship with normality.” However at the same time, according to an excerpt of John Clute’s The Darkening Garden: A Short Lexicon of Horror, Horror goes way beyond the conceived presumption of what majority thinks Horror films should generate. He mentions the term “Affect Horror” where this type of horror functions under a common perceived feeling where the main goal is to scare the living day lights out of the viewer.
David G. Hartwell mentions 3 streams of Horror and one of it, Moral Allegory, is how I can describe the overall feel of the movie. Moral Allegory is an “intrusion of supernatural evil in reality.” The underlying problem in the entire film is the main character’s personal inner battle against her own treatment of her son. Jess (Melissa George), unannounced to the audience in the beginning of the movie, mistreats and even hurts her own son. Since Moral Allegory revolves around the notion of the “battle between good and evil,” her own evil has caused a supernatural evil to continue to intrude her life continuously.
After the lecture and upon really thinking about the movie again, Triangles has everything in it to be considered a horror film. John Clute mentions the 4 tropes of a horror film and given this, it is safe to categorize the film as a horror film given that it does indeed have the 4 tropes: Sighting, Thickening, Revel, and Aftermath.
The sighting or “a glimpse of terror to come” occurs quite offenly during the start of the movie. Glimpses of horror could be seen even in the first part of the movie where Jess is comforting her son. Why would she be comforting him this early on in the movie? Did something happen? It can also be seen when Jess was resting in the boat where she vaguely saw images in a dream that would later on be reality when they boarded the boat.
The thickening materialized aboard the ship. The plot gets complicated when they see Jess house keys already onboard, blood on the mirror, and the feeling of Deja Vu Jess gets upon roaming around the boat. Apart from this, everyone, little by little, are starting to get killed but an unknown hooded person.
The revel happens when Jess notices that everything will continue to repeat itself until she does something about it. So she decides to actively try to change how future events will turn out in order to stop the cycle and get everyone alive. She later finds out that she needs to kill everyone in order for her to see her son again.
The aftermath however is not a happy ending for Jess. After washing up on shore, she finds out that she couldn’t escape the never ending loop of her life and is forced to repeat everything from that day, and not just events in the sea.
The entire concept of having days and moments having to repeat itself isn’t as uncommon in film. In 2014, we were introduced to the film Edge of Tomorrow starring Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt. In the film, the main protagonist, Cage (Tom Cruise), must constantly repeat the exact same events of the war until he finds a strategy to finally survive and win. The main difference however is that in Edge of Tomorrow, there was a happy ending. This leaves the questions, will Jess ever get a happy ending?
After everything is said and done, Triangles is not your typical horror film in the conventional sense. But sometimes, we must look deeper into a picture, an art form, a film, or even our own lives in order to fully witness the demons and fear hidden within. The horror genre is so vast and so intriguing that I can’t wait to watch more and see how it messes with the mind. One thing is for sure, I wouldn’t want to board a boat anytime soon.
Clute, John. The Darkening Garden: A Short Lexicon of Horror. Cauheegan, Wisc.: Payseur & Schmidt, 2006. Print.
“Edge of Tomorrow (2014).” IMDb. IMDb.com, n.d. Web. 05 Feb. 2017.
Jancovich, M. Horror, the film reader. London: Routledge, 2002. Print.