Trapped in a Loop: Triangle (2009)

Triangle (2009) is a British psychological horror film directed by Christopher Smith. It stars Melissa George as the protagonist, Jess.

I have not heard about this movie before which is why I came to watch it without expectations. Our professor introduced Triangle as “kinda horror, kinda not” and also described it as ambiguous. The film starts off with Jess, clutching her inconsolable son, Tommy, in her arms and assuring him that everything will be alright. That opening scene, as confusing as it was, will ultimately make sense after watching the entire movie.

In the first few minutes of the film, I already sensed that something was amiss. Why did Jess arrive at the harbor without Tommy? Wasn’t he supposed to go with her on the boat trip? What happened to him? Why was Jess acting so strange? I was left with so many questions and it was just about 15 minutes into the film.

Triangle is a story of entrapment. Even if I was just watching Jess go through those numerous and seemingly never-ending time loops, it felt as if I was trapped inside the mysterious ship with them as well. The dimly lit, deserted hallways and flickering lights were effective in giving off an eerie and creepy environment. Despite it being a low-budget film, its use and focus on a single setting (the abandoned ship) made it even scarier. You can also begin to notice Jess seemingly experiencing deja vu as she is exploring the ship with her friends.

I personally liked the film because I love movies with time loops and plot twists. Even if the plot was fairly simple, it still had me at the edge of my seat, anticipating what would happen next. The film’s use of time loops was very impressive and every scene tied up to the next. As I was watching the movie, I felt like I was in a roller coaster ride because of everything that was happening to Jess and her friends. The events that occurred were all so unexpected and were happening so fast.

Speaking of these time loops, there was a scene in the film when Sally offhandedly mentioned the Tale of Sisyphus. When she said this, I realized that they made reference to Sisyphus in relation to the time loops that were occurring in the movie. Sisyphus was a character we learned about in my Philo 102 class. Sisyphus was condemned by the gods to ceaselessly push a rock to the top of a mountain. He kept on pushing the rock but each time, he failed because the rock would fall back on its own weight. Relating this to Triangle, no matter how Jess thinks she can get out of the loop, something will occur that will pull her back into the loop. Nearing the end, it is discovered that Jess was an abusive mother towards Tommy, who had autism. In realizing this, Jess tries to finally put a stop to the loop by changing herself and how she treats her son. However, as the thrilling next sequences will show, one action leading to another in a chain of events, Jess will still be stuck in the loop and live that particular day again and again.

Triangle is a movie that should be watched at least twice in order for the viewer to understand it. This is because you cannot grasp its entirety in just one viewing. Also as I mentioned before, the plot twists kept happening at a fast rate which is why a second viewing is needed in order to get a hold of the events that took place.

The “kinda horror, kinda not” description was accurate because there were elements of the horror genre that Triangle had, but also lacked. As discussed in class, the horror genre can be formulaic. According to David J. Russell, “the basic definition of any horror film may be centered around its monster character, and the conflict arising in the fantastical and unreal monster’s relationship with normality” (p.2, General Introduction). Triangle wasn’t a movie about ghosts and supernatural forces. It dealt with real people in which the main character was stuck in living the same day again and again. It’s setting made it look like a horror movie and even the musical scoring was effective in conveying an atmosphere of horror.

Despite the movie’s lack of a “monster character” as what Russell mentioned, I think that the “monster” in Triangle was Jess herself because of what she was led to do due to the circumstances she was in. She was the one who took the lives of her friends. Her abusive behavior traumatized her son, which was why he was inconsolable at the start of the film. In attempting to get out of the loop, the people around her had to face the consequences of her actions.

Sources:

Mark Jancovich. “General Introduction.” Horror, The Film Reader (Routledge, 2002)

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