The title for writer/director Chris Smith’s third feature is a little misleading, the poster depicting a ship under the title Triangle suggesting a Bermuda locale of some sort, but this is an erroneous assumption, much in the same way the film itself, a thriller full to the brim with twists and turns, is really not quite what it initially appears to be either.
Melissa George is Jess, a stressed out young mother of an autistic child who ventures out into the Atlantic with some friends aboard a small yacht for a bit of rest and relaxation. When a freak storm capsizes their vessel though, they are left clinging to its upturned hull until the SS Aeolus, a colossal passenger ship, sails into view. Thinking they have been saved, they climb aboard only to find it empty, not a soul in sight, save that is for a mysterious figure shrouded in black that Jess sees onboard, who’s armed with a shotgun, and that nagging feeling that she has been on the ship before.
What plays out is a far cry from Smith’s earlier features as he eschews the claret-soaked stylings of Creep and the tongue-in-cheek gags of Severance for an altogether much more sombre, mature and restrained approach. As the film unfolds, realities, and time, unravel as Jess has to face, quite literally, herself and the consequences of her actions as her and her friends come under attack. Smith builds the suspense well and orchestrates a foreboding sense of dread and terror, as well as serving up some decidedly unsettling scenes, and he is helped in no small part by some sterling production design work which renders the Aeolus a nightmarish maze of corridors and stifling, empty rooms. Taking its cues from The Shining in this department, amongst others, the film takes place during the day with the horror of events presented in glistening sunlight as opposed to under the mask of shadows, and it’s anchored by an impressive central performance by George who has a tall task portraying a character who is clearly not sound of mind. Despite this, Triangle has a tendency to lose sense of its own direction somewhat.
Cyclic in nature, the script twists and turns and doubles back on itself, weaving a complex web of a plotline, but it often leads off down blind alleys which aren’t fully resolved, Smith favouring mood and effect over logical transparency, and this is where audiences’ responses to the film will differ. It could be that the search for a conclusive and final resolution to all events will frustrate some, or it could be, as Smith intended, that it is the journey itself that is the resolution, the emotions experienced and the understanding of them achieved which is the film’s purpose. Flawed in places, yet exceptionally well crafted and thoroughly effective, Triangle is a film to enjoy, and to puzzle over a little bit too.
Check out Screenjabber.com for full coverage of FrightFest 2009.
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