How would and should the genre of horror be defined? From hearing the genre of ‘horror’, the things or scenes that would instantly be thought of are ghosts, spirits, haunted houses, and objects moving by themselves among so many things. Though there are films drenched with blood and gore and there are films that have scientifically abnormal monsters and these are also categorized under the genre of horror.
There are a lot of things and ideas to consider when defining a horror film. Though it does not stop from just ghosts and paranormal activities. The film Triangle directed by Christopher Smith and released in 2009, challenges the usual definition of horror popular among many. The film stars Melissa George as Jess, Joshua McIvor as Tommy, and Jack Taylor as Jack, and many more. It revolves around Jess getting stuck in a never-ending loop of the murders of her friends and a mysterious masked person as she tries to reverse the death of her son Tommy out of regret.
As mentioned, this film challenges the popular thoughts on horror. As I was watching the film, I thought of it more as a thriller film than a film that evoked fear. Though, there are a lot of elements in the film that would say that it is to be considered a horror film rather than otherwise. The existence of a monster, the fear of the unknown, and two of the three streams of horror can be applied to this film to categorize it as horror.
The film’s monster is Jess. For the more obvious reason, she, or all versions of her, is or are the one/s who murders her friends. She was trying to “fight” with the monster, though we see in the film that the monster is herself. The film revolves around internal problems between Jess and herself or her fate. It could be a form of psychological metaphor brought about by her extreme guilt because of the way she treated Tommy and the eventual death of her son.
The fear of the unknown in a lot of films is a source of fear and terror. The fact that we do not know widens our imagination and thoughts on what it could be. In this film, the viewers end up asking a lot of questions not exactly knowing what went on. Why was she stuck in that loop? How did she get stuck in the loop in the first place? How does she get out of the loop or when would the loop eventually stop? Why was Jess the one stuck in that loop? Is it Jess, a seemingly normal person, creating the loop? These questions left with the viewers creates sort of a discomfort knowing that they do not know what exactly happened.
In connection to both reasons mentioned earlier, I would say (from how I understood them) that two of the three streams of horror could be applied to the film. The three streams of horror, according to David G. Hartwell, are moral allegory, psychological horror and the fantastic. Psychological horror can be applied here because, as mentioned, Jess’ psychological state is what caused her to build the horror of the film. Her extreme guilt causes her to repeat the loop over and over again thus, repeating the murders and the death of her son again several times too. In this stream of horror, the monster or Jess is definitely the center of the story and she can represent some aspects in the lives of the viewers. For example, Jess’ extreme guilt can also be found in the viewers.
The stream of horror that refers to the fantastic can also be applied to Triangle. In connection to what was mentioned earlier, the fear of the unknown exists in the film. The source of horror is unknown. There is a supernatural occurrence happening, the loop, though the viewers and even Jess in the film cannot understand or does not know what is happening. It is acknowledged that the occurrence is happening though no explanation of it is provided and the loop could not possibly happen in reality.
In my opinion the film was a great way to start the class giving an example of a film that would, at first, not be classified as horror but is actually horror. It gave me a different perspective of how wide the scope of horror could be and that it does not only box itself in with ghosts, etc. I had a lot of unanswered questions after watching the film and a lot of thoughts on it too.
Source: Mark Jancovich, “General Introduction.” Horror, The Film Reader (Routledge, 2002).