My experience with Christopher Smith has been mixed over the years. I thought “Creep” was a good concept but pretty painful to sit through while “Severance” was an underrated horror comedy that suffered from comparisons to “Shaun of the Dead.” Surely though, Smith is a man whose genre outputs have been quite varied and he seems to be coming in to his own by directing films that benefit the horror genre rather than exploit it. Take “Triangle” a movie that by all accounts should have been given a theatrical release in the states. Sadly it’s basically just a direct-to-DVD release that will get lost in the shuffle. Which is a shame because while “Triangle” is a pretty atmospheric horror film, it’s so much more than that.
It’s sophisticated, it’s well written, and it will definitely keep audiences thinking hours after the movie has ended. And did I mention that it’s original? I must warn you the movie has been kept under wraps by many since its introduction so I’ve decided to spoil everything to truly express my feelings about Smith’s horror film. Spoiler warning, below. Melissa George gives an outstanding performance as Jess, a troubled and disturbed woman who is tasked with taking care of her difficult autistic son. Hoping for some time off she goes on a boat trip with her friends and what seems like a relaxed trip suddenly becomes a harrowing fight for life as they’re all hit with a mysterious raging storm that sinks the ship and leaves them at the steps of a cruise ship that’s seemingly abandoned. What occurs is a story that unfolds before our eyes presenting a take on fate, destiny, karma and what little choice many of us have in our lives.
As the friends board the ship, they find themselves being hunted by a masked figure with a shotgun who is relentless in its pursuit to murder each and every one of them. But as the situation becomes more and more dangerous, Jess finds that she holds the key to ending the madness and then suddenly finds she may be at the mercy of a rift in the space time continuum. But is it really something supernatural that keeps her on the ship constantly boarding it to find her friends die one by one under different circumstances or has she lost her mind? Is it all one large case of deja vu, or did the storm introduce a scientific element that finds Jess’s universe in a complete loop? And what does the white seagull represent in the scope of her time paradox? What Smith does is gradually slip us in to a more dramatic angle revealing the full depth of Jess’s character and forces us to decide what is occurring in this film.
Jess is surely a person of mixed intent, but as she learns of her own fate and decides to alter it, we also learn of the true Jess and find that perhaps she’s been dealt a vicious card in reliving traumatic and rather horrific situations that seem to be punishment rather than accident. Which ultimately begs the question on what role her autistic son plays in the events. Does he have power over what his mother ultimately decides? And why does he seem to know what’s going to happen before Jess does? While some of the actual purpose by director Smith is made apparent in the climax, much of what occurs is still left up in the air by the time the credits roll and we’re left with a fuzzy image on who Jess really is and why we’re introduced to characters who are doomed to die. Is Jess in a dimension between heaven and hell?
Is she forced to relive these events as some sort of test or is it a consequence for her actions in life? Are these people not actually her friends but other condemned players in this sick game also doomed to relive their deaths in eternal purgatory? Smith’s film is absolutely daring and takes a great look in to our perceptions of reality and slips in an honest to goodness story amidst the terror that ensues. Everything from the time bending right down to the existentialism is rather brilliant. It’s just a shame not many will be able to experience this as I have. Director Christopher Smith only seems to be going uphill with a horror thriller that works as both a perception bending mystery and a ponderous drama that adds more and more layers of depth and dimension as it develops. Truly it’s one of the hidden gems of 2009.