Destiny leaves us all out at sea with Triangle (2009)
Updated: Dec 3, 2020
I first watched Triangle in the cinema on the day of its release in my local cinema, and I remember being really disappointed for two main reasons. Firstly, I was watching it with a girl I was trying to impress by being a little manly. I didn’t make it too far the film before I fell foul to a jump scare, something i’m generally prone to anyway. I generally think, “fair enough” when it’s the killer about to claim their next victim. But in Triangle… In Triangle, I had to try to disguise a jump of pure terror from none other than a seagull. For the record, i’ll have you know that, according to the Telegraph, seagull attacks are on the rise, so don’t judge too quickly… The second reason is that I remember being disappointed by the plot, I didn’t really engage with it, and I remembered feeling frankly a little frustrated with it.Many moons have passed since then. I’m an older and wiser person now, so one rainy afternoon I sat down to rewatch it, seagull and all. Given how old the film is, i’m not going to avoid spoilers, but rather I wanted to target this piece at people who may have not given the film a chance the first time around.
Triangle opens to a domestic scene with Jess, Melissa George, clearing up after her autistic son. As she is getting ready, she thinks she sees someone outside, but her neighbour confirms that there wasn’t anybody. We are quickly shimmied along to the harbour, where we meet the whole squad Greg, Sally, Downey, Victor, and Heather. They’re all going on a yachting trip, along with Jess. As we set sail with the crew, we know that there’s no way anything bad could happen.
So, naturally there’s a massive storm which destroys Greg’s boat - I hope he had insurance. As all the characters, except Heather, who got either really lucky or really unlucky depending on how you look at it. A whole swathe of unfortunate shenanigans follow, each throwing Jess’ grip on reality into disarray.
Time and inevitability are at the core of the plot of Triangle, and it’s this that I really think was my issue with it when I first watched it. At the tender age of 16, I couldn’t appreciate that there is a cinematic poetry to inevitability in media. It’s like when John Marston walks out of the barn at the end of Red Dead Redemption, we’re already prepared for what’s going to happen, no matter how many times we google “how to survive the ending to RDR” - at least three times if you’re interested. Once you’re onboard with the concept, once you’re along for the ride, it’s much more enjoyable. So when the plot twist reveals itself as a crafted and eternal loop about halfway through, I was definitely more prepared to give it due consideration this time.
I like that the agency of the characters in the film is forever in question from this point onwards, and it ultimately proves to not exist whatsoever. It’s a slice of destiny pie, with the whipped cream of speculation to garnish what could have otherwise been another generic horror film.
Speaking of horror, Triangle is never going to be one of those Saw or Hostel style gorefests, so if that’s what you’re looking for in your horror films - no judgement- then you’d be better off looking elsewhere. There are elements of gore, but they are minimal, which I think is for the best in this context. One such example is when Victor, Liam Hemsworth’s character, accidentally has the back of his skull penetrated by a protruding wall spike, the resulting hole is more understated than a lot of horrors may have gone for.
The largest component is the psychological element to the film, and, whilst not entirely cerebral unto itself, there persists a lingering question throughout the film - can Jess escape the loop. The film delivers the crushing reality when we see Jess hit a seagull after she has returned to shore. She throws it over the edge, only to see many more that have met the same fate at the hands of alternative versions of herself. It’s the final flag to let us know that we’re not safe, we’re still down the hornets nest with our arses fully exposed to the yellow jacketed menaces as the swarm ever readier.
The horror of a lack of control is something that is terrifying in real life - I doubt many who have experienced sleep paralysis would like to repeat it, and is rather unnerving in a film. You can’t help but put yourself into this bloody version of Groundhog Day. This film isn’t in with a shot of being the scariest horror film in the world, not by a long shot, but does it fit the bill of being a horror film? I think so.
If you weren’t sure about Triangle on your first watching, or perhaps haven’t seen it yet, then you can purchase a copy from Amazon using the affiliate link below to help out the blog!