"Is this normal?" A man asks.
All I want to answer is, "No, it's CGI."
All I want to answer is, "No, it's CGI."
Triangle is a moody, melancholic, and somewhat imaginative "horror" movie directed by Christopher Smith and starring Melissa George. It was made by and in the UK and Australia with mainly Australian actors, but takes place in Florida for some reason with every one of the actors faking an American accent, probably because of the allusion to the Bermuda Triangle, which is not what this movie is about. Instead, the titular Triangle is the sailing ship the characters start the movie on.
Melissa George, the big name in this flick, plays Jess, a single mother with a special needs son. Throughout the film, but especially in the beginning of it, she seems out of it, confused, and a little lost as well. I'm not sure if it was the character that was out of her element or the actress. I'm kind of sorry for saying this, but Melissa George is not a powerhouse actress in this film. While I've seen her play some decent roles (most notably in 30 Days of Night) she doesn't seem quite ready for the emotional performance that this movie really required. She has a mighty vacant expression on her face for most of this film, with her mouth slightly agape, like it's stuck in constant surprise. I know that's a bit unfair, but it kept getting to me as the movie progressed.
The being said, this is a whale of a movie plot. Despite the limited characterizations and dialogue, the plot is incredibly complex... although equally incredibly predictable. It's kind of the nature of a plot like this to be predictable, but I seriously wish I hadn't guessed most of the movie in the first ten to fifteen minutes of the film. It made a large portion of this movie quite boring. The only thing I couldn't have even anticipated was how Jess was going to act and react rather than what was going to happen, since that seemed set in stone. And her reactions, which should have been the most interesting part of the movie, became confusing and badly put together and thought out- more frustrating for the viewer than interesting.
The problem is that I have no idea why everything was set in stone and why Jess couldn't have changed stuff at any time she wanted to. This becomes a huge problem towards the end of the movie, but I'm digressing a bit. If you know nothing about this movie you are probably lost, and I don't blame you. If you have watched this movie you may be lost as well, but no worries! It's fairly easy to understand once you realize that time travel plots and being stuck in a time loop is utterly idiotic and rarely works well in any fictional medium.
Okay, maybe not ENTIRELY idiotic, but I cannot stand movies that attempt these types of plots. Time travel and time loops are complicated and never seem to work in movies or stories in general, often falling flat long before they become compelling. I would have shut this movie off in an instant if it had not shaken anything up at all or performed intelligent moves effectively. But it did. No, it didn't do it amazingly every single time. I still have a ton of questions lingering in my mind, but I thought it told the plot satisfactorily.
So, yes, this movie is all about a time loop. It's basically your standard Sisyphus plot. They even mention it in the movie proper. It's so apparent and so telegraphed that it felt like the movie were trying to hammer it into my head. It did back off a bit eventually, and I have to thank the director for that at least. While I did appreciate some of the more intelligent designs in the plot throughout the movie, I found for the most part that the movie lacked surprise, which is a leading force when it comes to actual HORROR movies.
Anyway, the movie starts out at Jess's home. She has a special needs son and is cleaning up some paint he spilled on the floor. She hears the doorbell, goes to get it, and finds nobody there. She asks her neighbor if he saw anyone, and of course he didn't see anyone. She goes to tidy up and then we meet up with the other characters of the film. Greg is on his sailing ship, getting it ready to take some of his friends out for a nice and relaxing cruise. Victor, a young friend of Greg, is staying with him and helping him with the boat. Greg has two married friends coming along specially for the ride as well as a friend they brought along to hook him up with. Jess then makes an appearance as well, looking disheveled and awful, seeming like she needs a good sleep. Greg had invited her along, and seems particularly protective of her.
So, they go sailing, start having a good time... and THEN (because of course there's an "and then") the wind dies, a CGI storm hits, capsizes the boat, the friend of the couple is lost, and a large cruise ship from the 1930s rolls past them looking to help. Or so they think. They see a figure on board, the ship seems to let them on board, and then there's nobody there to greet them. They start looking all over the ship for other people, but all they find is Jess annoyingly saying that she thinks she's been here before. Some odd things start to happen, including Jess's keys suddenly dropping at a random place on the ship, and a figure seeming to follow them.
Jess eventually gets upset with Greg because he's being realistic and is trying to reason with her, so she runs off, and is attacked by a seriously wounded Victor who tries to choke her to death. Now, this is the kind of movie that has characters in it that have never seen a horror film before. They had split up before this all happened, so being on a creepy empty ship and splitting up is obviously the best course of action. Anyway, Jess runs back to find the others only to find Greg shot dead, claiming that she killed him, and the couple over him, blaming her for the death even as they are shot to death by a mysterious figure with a sack over its head. The masked figure continues to shoot at Jess even as she tries to escape, leading to one of the funniest scenes I've seen in a horror movie in a while, where the masked gunperson runs out of bullets and throws the gun at her. And it hits her too! I mean, I was laughing to myself even as the scene went on because it was absolutely ridiculous. It was also easily the best moment (or two- ha ha ha time travel ha ha) in the film.
So, Jess fights the gunperson with a fire-axe, and eventually backs the masked person off the ship while the masked person whispers something unintelligible to her. We think the movie must be done at this point- but it's only just started. Jess backs into the captain's quarters or the bridge or something, plays some music and hears some cries coming from the open ocean. Oh no! It's the capsized Triangle with the five characters again calling out for help from the cruise ship. And we have officially entered the plot of this movie.
It's all a loop on the cruise ship that ends when all the characters (seemingly save Jess) die. When they all die, the loop starts all over again. So, Jess starts off by doing exactly what previous versions of her had done before, jotting down a note, losing her locket, grabbing a gun... but then decides she wants to break the pattern. She finds Victor, hoping to warn him, but that just spooks him because she sounds like she's insane. She grievously wounds him completely by accident (which it seems every Jess seems to do), then changes what happened earlier in the time loop by making certain Victor didn't attack her earlier self. She confronts that earlier self, seems to think about killing her, then lets her run away. Again, she seems like she's trying to break the loop and keep everybody alive. Remember this for later.
The problem is that the masked person (who is also Jess, but a later version of her) is killing off the other characters whenever she can. So, this "good" Jess is trying to save them, and the masked "bad" one is trying to kill them. This goes on for a little while and several loops, every time having the characters die. She even sees herself die at least once, I believe. She sees a mass of Sallies (the female of the couple) and where they all died, and kind of realizes that this has been going on much longer than she's been here.
Jess, who had been trying to save the others, suddenly doesn't want to do that anymore. I mean, she seriously just changes her mind without any character development saying why. She actively starts hunting the other characters down with the sack on her head, shooting them whenever she can. Oh my God how stupid can Jess be? She goes and decides to do all the things it was decided that she would do by the loop or fate or whatnot, but SHE KNOWS HOW THAT'S GOING TO TURN OUT, with earlier Jess making certain that the final Jess jumps overboard. There is an easy solution here she hadn't thought of: why not just wait out on the landing dock, let the other Jess kill all of the others, then warn the Triangle when it gets close? Why does she start thinking it's a good idea to murder all the others? Why does she do it exactly like the earlier version of her saw her do it? She could have changed anything and everything, but she knew how it would turn out. Why not change what is going to happen rather than living it? And why be surprised when it happens the way she KNEW it was going to happen if she followed that route?
I can't get over this. I really can't. Her character changes in a single second from being a decent person trying to save the others (even if she doesn't) to being a murderer with a sack on her head for the simple reason that she wants to save them by killing them. Look, lady, there are easier ways to go about doing this than murdering them, okay? I don't like the jump of personality change here. I don't think it works, and it bothered me a ton. I don't like her justifications, and I especially don't like how she doesn't act like a person would. Look, if I find myself in some kind of weird loop and then see I can change some things sometimes, I'm going to make certain I don't do anything that I saw some masked moron do earlier. I am especially not going to put on said mask and shoot people. I mean, seriously.... damn it. This was too frustrating for me.
Anyway, I guess the rest of the movie happens after that. Jess, in a mask, jumps off the ship, hits the water, wakes up on a beach and goes home. At this point I'm wondering why the movie is still going. In my mind it should be over. But no, Jess goes home and we see that she's gone back in time, it seems, to watch herself scream and beat her special needs child. Jess decides she doesn't like the old her very much, plays ding-dong ditch with herself, grabs a hammer, and beats the everloving crud out of the earlier version of herself, killing her. The son panics, understandably, and she consoles him by saying it was all a terrible nightmare. She packs her body into the trunk of the car and gets ready to leave Florida. On her way she hits a seagull which causes her son to freak out, and we see the ultimate TWIST of the movie. There are a ton of dead seagulls which it seems like previous versions of herself had thrown over the cliff as well. She is still in the loop! She continues driving for a few seconds, but she is totally not watching the road... AND ACCIDENT.
Her son dies, and the earlier Jess is also there dead. There's a very obvious nod to the idea that she's in a loop of hell, and really died in a car accident, but she doesn't seem to think about it much, instead talking to a random creepy taxi driver. This taxi driver out of nowhere decides to drive her away from that place, and she accepts, saying she'll go to the harbor to meet Greg and the rest. And she does. And the loop starts all over again, although we have no idea how much she remembers now or how much she remembered in the first place at all.
So, one other thing I have to mention is that in the cruise ship there seemed to be a much later version of Jess for several minutes. She killed Downey (the male member of the couple) and seemed to be doing all of what she was doing to save her son, even citing that she loves her son as the reason the other have to die. This seems to be the final version of Jess we see, the one who remembers that her son died because of her... and she's still looping.
Okay, while I think that all sounds very complex, it's actually pretty simple to follow for the most part. It is a movie that requires paying a bit of attention, but most of the film is explicitly stated in dialogue. Jess is in a loop, more than likely because she died. The others may or may not exist, but that doesn't even matter. Jess is a bad mother and feels guilty about it. She dies in a car accident and cannot accept that she and her son are dead, which creates the loop in the first place. That's the more plausible explanation, and I hate movies that do that. The other explanation is that the cruise ship is a magical time dimensional traveling cruise ship from the 1930s that allows her and the others to loop constantly through time ad infinitum because she's too stupid to break the loop or convince the others that what she's saying isn't crazy. And that isn't a much better plot, is it?
Anyway, this is a really different movie. I appreciate how it's different. I really do. I like the plot, but it's not very original no matter what you think. Look at Stay, Jacob's Ladder, The Dark, or a ton of others movies I'm simply not thinking about right now. While the loop may not be done in every movie, the premise is one that is wholly predictable, and the plot is way to easy to figure out. Most of the characters are either unlikable or completely flat, and the one that seems to show any personality, Jess, simply does confusing and nonsensical things throughout the film. The acting is nothing special, with Melissa George probably putting out the best performance out of everyone even if it is mediocre. The actors are somewhat believable, but... again... it's hard to feel anything for them throughout the movie. They just don't have enough character for me to go "Oh no! I don't want him/her to die!"
As for being a horror movie... No. No, this movie is in no way scary. It may be kind of interesting and gory, but it is in no way horrific or terrifying. Calling this a horror movie is like calling spaghetti thrown onto the ceiling psychological terror. It's simply not.
I also want to say that, yes movie, I saw what you did with the references to The Shining. Don't think I didn't see the Room 237 there. I am a big Stephen King junkie. Do you think I would miss obvious references like that? Or the blood on the mirror? Or the ax? I mean, I don't even like Kubrick's The Shining, but the blatant references just made me roll my eyes. You should never make me remember a better movie while I'm watching your movie. And as I said, I don't even like The Shining very much, but it is a much better movie than this, and I shouldn't have been thinking how much more I wanted to see that than this.
Now, this movie isn't garbage. Nor is it bad. It's a mediocre plot mixed with some pretty decent time travel looping kind of stuff that makes it kind of interesting and different. The first half of the movie is not very fun to watch, but once the true plot comes out, it's a much easier movie to stomach. While I never wholly bought the movie, and found myself more frustrated than happy with it, I will say that it was a decent enough flick. I came away feeling like it was pretty average and kind of forgettable, but not bad exactly. While that's no recommendation, I can't say to avoid it fully either since there are some decent things here even if it's frustrating and nonsensical at times. If the plot sounds interesting or you think Melissa George is a great actress or great looking, maybe check it out with the warning that there are much better movies out there. Barring that, it is just not a good enough movie for me to wholeheartedly thrown my support behind.