Director: Christopher Smith. Starring: Melissa George, Michael Dorman, Rachael Caprani, Henry Nixon, Liam Hemsworth. UK, Australia, 2009. Budget: $ 12 millions. IMDb: 6.9. My rating: 1.5/4. Unscary horror wrapped in a dull time-looped puzzle.
– Well listen we don’t have to go today if you don’t want too.
– No I do… I… I… I wanna go.
– You sure?
– Yea… yea!
– Yea? OK!
– Lets go sailing!
(a typical dialogue)
Most movies about time travel/time loops share one thing in common. No, it’s not what you thought. It’s an immense and inexplicable character obtuseness. I mean, what would a normal person do if he travels in time and meets his friends or even himself? Of course, kill everybody, do odd stuff he wouldn’t normally do, write scary messages to your counterpart and maybe slaughter him as well! Otherwise time travel is not fun, right?
It’s also the first thriller I have ever seen that takes its own plot so carelessly – the poster itself is already a spoiler.
The director Christopher Smith did several thrillers/horrors before filming ”Triangle” (Creep, Severance) and uses same classic recipe here. A group of young adults:
- A cool guy, 1 piece. He likes mysterious girls because… he likes mysterious girls!
- A mysterious girl in a tight T-shirt and short panties – 1 piece. The clothes quantity reduces and becomes wet as the movie progresses. Golden rule!
- A strong positive dumb guy – 1 piece. He likes to help everybody – remember, he has muscles!
- A dumb/timid guy/girl – variable quantity. One of them often tries to attract the cool smart guy/mysterious girl. Normally a useless background character that dies fast.
All this bunch of people go on a trip (forest, desert, abandoned house, etc). Something goes wrong.
Another golden rule of thumb that always helps to distinguish a good screenplay from a bad one is the presence of certain phrases. I think directors and screenwriters who are responsible for including this should be banned at least for 5 years from making movies:
- ”I had a bad dream” said with a deadpan face expression like somebody died or a 3rd World War started (usually followed by meaningful silence…)
- ”I feel like I’ve been here before” (and the camera flies around the place…)
- ”Who am I?” in front of a mirror, often looking at hands (to create the sense of tragedy)
”Triangle” is a slick, well shot, visually attractive but endlessly empty carousel. It feels like a slasher movie about of group of teenagers, but instead of developing the classic death sequence and arriving to the ”final girl” moment, it gets stuck somewhere in the middle entering the infinite loop of the plot.
Ridiculous characters basically kill the movie. It’s hard to care for somebody who you don’t know literally nothing, hence the starting violence causes little more than a yawn. The film never explores its premise, using it just as a background for senseless violence and action. Pretty soon you don’t know if you should laugh/cry – what is happening on the screen makes very little sense. How about a slightly-built girl with zero combat experience (and an autistic son) who suddenly starts to use shotguns, hit with a stone a small target from a 50 m distance or slaughter people with axes/knives. What the heck was that?
The acting is awful. The cast is mostly Australian… there are no good actors in Australia? I didn’t know that. The characters are just bland mannequins who never act like real humans, but exactly like a typical unoriginal slasher movie cast. Everybody is so fucking serious that it literally makes you wanna punch the screen.
Melissa George’s character is explored more as she is the central part of the story, but I am not sure she can act at all. At least, not in this movie. Mostly she did various thrillers/horrors, and it’s easy to see why – for 95% of the onscreen time, her acting consists of an opened mouth, widened eyes and raised eyebrows with an overall expression of a mystery on her face. Her character is completely inaccessible – not only to the viewers but to other film characters as well. The producers probably understood it well – she dresses short panties and a tight T-short showing her breast literally every 3 minutes. It’s just annoying and tasteless, showing for which auditory the movie was made (and no – I do not have anything against these kind of characters and highly enjoyed Mary Elizabeth Winstead’s acting in ”10 Cloverfield Lane”).
”Triangle” doesn’t have the budget/grandeur of ”Edge of Tomorrow”, most scenes are simply repeated from different angle, making multiple references to the haunted mansion from the “The Shining”. But Smith is not Kubrick nor Duncan Jones – ”Source Code” showed well what magic you can do with the a similar budget . ”Coherence” was a brilliant exploration if the genre with barely $ 50,000. ”Time Crimes” and ”Time Lapse” were both a good take (although occasionally they suffered from similar problems as ”Triangle”, but to a much lesser extent). Both explored the plot, characters motivation, psychology and had enough self-irony about themselves.
Still, the film is surprisingly well done from technical point of view, thus it’s easy to predict that many will praise ”Triangle”. It’s made mostly for undemanding thriller/horror fans and the film will easily satisfy this kind of audience – it develops fast, rarely leaves you bored, the photography is good with some vivid colours a good contrast. I found it barely scary though. It seems that by adding some (un)original puzzles/sci-fi to a fast-paced thriller one can conquer this kind of audience pretty fast. All others will be barely impressed.
Worth watching? ”Triangle” offers very little except for some senseless repeating violence stuck in a long loop. If you able close your eyes to meaningless characters, plot inconsistencies and bad acting, you will find surprisingly good photography and editing with quick pace. I couldn’t. There are for sure some better ways of spending an evening.
Watch instead – ”Source Code” or ”Edge of Tomorrow” for witty time-looped script and original and cool action, ‘‘Coherence” or ”Predestination” for smart and philosophical take on the genre, ”Time Lapse”, ”Looper” or ”Time Crimes” for a good brainy sci-fi time travel thriller. ”Exam” (2009) was a well-crafted minimal psychological thriller.