The Unknown: A Reading on Triangle


Being the first film to be shown at the beginning of the course, I was quite satisfied and enthusiastic about the rest of the semester.

Christopher Smith‘s film, Triangle, was a challenge to watch not because the scenes were disturbing, but because at the back of my mind I kept wondering if every action of the characters would somehow affect how the cycle begins. It was brilliant in a way that reminded me of Inception, but as a horror trope. At the beginning I thought it would be one of those cannibalistic films like Wrong Turn upon the sighting of a ship with no passengers — an entrapment;  but eventually I felt the same feeling I had when I watched Final Destination, wherein every movement, place, object, or person the lead character is exposed to would lead to his/her demise.

Another theory of mine at the beginning of the film was that Jess was not mentally inept, and everything was just a figment of her imagination seeing as though she merely left Tommy as she headed to the harbor, only to be explained at the very last scenes of the film.

When it was already apparent that Jess was stuck in this videogame-like alternate world where assuming it was true, she would need to eliminate all of her friends in order to break out of the cycle. However, towards the end it was seen that escaping the ship did not lead to her freedom. She was trapped. In Mark Jancovich’s introduction, he talked of elements such as entrapment and the monster. Although in this film, I am not quite sure if there is a monster or if we can consider the unending cycle as a monster; or just a proposed alternate reality. What I am sure of is that the final girl, Jess, highlights the element of entrapment as the curse is merely imposed on her, although the audience may not be quite sure as to why or how this had happened. Jess seemed to think that it was because she was a bad mother, seeing as though she had tried or planned to be a better mother when she realized that the cycle was about to repeat once more. It was actually a slow build up for me at the start, making it hard for me to be engaged up until the boat they were own started to rock. But as noted by Noel Carroll, the horror genre makes use of the build up in order to hook the film viewers to the story.

I also wondered towards the end if the film had a sequel pulling another character into the curse. I wondered if there is a sense of continuity as well in the transfer of its curse. I am not sure if this would ruin the whole purpose of the film but I guess I thought about how the curse could transfer. Does it change recipients if the current one dies? Does it transfer like a disease? But maybe, the very sense of not knowing is the main purpose the film.

The ending did not give us resolution although I also think this was necessary. If the story had a concrete ending, the feeling of being in a loop would fade and the effect of the film would most likely diminish significantly. We also notice how the lead genuinely fears the unknown. Audience members know that there was a shooter at the theatre but no one knew that it was Jess up until the Revel, where it was revealed towards the mid-part of the film.

I particularly liked how they mentioned the Myth of Sisyphus in the film, because it touches on the fact that Jess was borne into the same cycle of how Sisyphus had tried his best to push the rock towards the mountain top again and again but to no avail. Jess kept trying to save her friends while avoiding the cycle. Eventually she gave up on saving her friends and had tried to salvage her own life back to her son by just trying to kill every single one on the ship and escaping from its endless haunting cycle.

I think that the film succeeded in its horrifying effect, making the audience feel lost just as the characters had felt. One of my favorite scenes would be in the photo above, which captured in totality just how chilling a cyclical story could be, despite the setting being in more or less one area only. I felt like I could smell the stench of the dead sea gulls directly from the screen.

More or less, the film was  entertaining and intelligent, setting a good standard for the rest of the films to be shown throughout the course.

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

Noel Carroll, “Why Horror?.” Horror, The Film Reader (Routledge, 2002).


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