Triangle is a flawed film and yet there is something nagging about it. Perhaps it’s just the fact that a horror movie whose primary goal is to actually horrify a rare thing that I can’t help but appreciate. Perhaps it’s because that despite all the horror movie tropes that it enthusiastically takes part in there are still images and moments in Triangle that I have legitimately never seen before (if not concepts). Whatever the reason and for all its flaws Triangle remains a genuinely disquieting movie. I can only imagine how well it would work if it actually all held together.
Triangle follows a group of friends who go sailing for a three hour tour. Unfortunately for them their tour doesn’t end with low key sexual innuendo and a Professor with a knack for coconut based technology. When their ship wrecks (in a surprisingly well done scene for the films small budget) they end up stranded in the middle of the ocean, almost certainly doomed. Until a ship passes by.
A GHOOOOOSSSSTTTT SHIP!!!
Once aboard the Ghost Ship the surviving members of the party are stalked by a masked killer who eliminates them one by one, leaving only the final surviving girl to face the killer down in a bloody fight to the end. So far so rote right?
Good because this is where it gets weird.
I don’t want to go into specifics on just what does happen next in Triangle. For one thing I’m not sure myself. This isn’t because what happens during the film is all that mind blowing or deep. It’s just that, the writer director Chris Smith knows the value of ambiguity. He wisely (very wisely) offers no explanation for the sinister goings on and neatly side steps the cliché I was sure I saw coming (the oh so tiresome autistic children have eerie powers). He plays things here at a Lynchian remove. Creating a great deal of atmosphere and dread as he goes along.
Once again, this is a distinctly double edged sword and in the final account there are a few too many paradoxes that simply don’t add up for Triangle to be fully effective. But the ambiguity works more often in Triangle’s favor than not. Though I don’t know if it was what Chris Smith intended it is an eerie a portrait of the concept of damnation as I’ve ever seen. A rare horror movie that feels genuinely hopeless without it coming off as mere affectation.
The budget for Triangle was obviously limited, but Smith knows how to choose his moments. Making the few big images he’s allowed by the budget really pop, including one that is just, well just incredibly disturbing (purple sweaters). For horror fans tired of films that offer mere safe jump scares as opposed to real ones Triangle for all its flaws is just the ticket. Chris Smith aims to terrify in it. For all the films limitations he succeeds admirably.