I’m just going to come right out and state the obvious: this is not a book review. But before you click delete, give me a few moments to explain why Triangle is a perfect example of creative, storytelling magic, the kind of artistic synergy that inspired me to write in the first place.
Forget about expectations and forget about genre. Just wipe the slate clean. Rarely do I come across a film with such a tightly written screenplay. In order for a movie like Triangle to fly, you require a great deal of imagination, coordination and a mind capable of solving a Rubik’s cube blindfolded. If you liked Identity and Memento, you will find that Triangle offers a similar experience without regurgitating overused storytelling tropes. This is a solid, stand-alone effort worth your full attention.
I stumbled upon Triangle purely by coincidence. On a lazy Sunday afternoon during which my main priority was the batch of chocolate chip cookies I was baking, I scanned a few mystery movie recommendations on Google. After discovering this unique psychological thriller, I did a quick summary search on IMBD to familiarize myself with the plot.
Triangle follows the perspective of Jess, a single mother of a young boy with autism. As the first few domestic scenes unfold, it becomes clear that she is very anxious, fragile and exhausted. In need of much rest and relaxation, she meets a group of friends at the marina to go sailing for the day. Unfortunately, the group soon encounters a freak storm, which leaves their boat upturned and ravaged by the foaming waves. Obviously, they are in dire need of rescue. However, they are pleasantly surprised to see a massive ocean liner sail in from a cloud of fog. Believe me, this is not what you think it is. When they board the strange ship, Jess can’t shake a feeling of déjà vu. From this point on, the story bursts from the screen like a grenade and doesn’t stop. Suddenly, those domestic scenes at the beginning take on an entirely new meaning. Like The Prestige, which relies on the audience’s keen attention to detail, Triangle doesn’t waste a single word. Everything has a meaning.
Please don’t let the movie poster deter you from seeing this mind bender. This isn’t a typical “thriller.” Neither is it a typical “mystery” or “horror,” though all terms certainly apply. Don’t you just love it when a story defies genre?
From the first scene, you will be captivated by the current of uneasy electricity, which builds steadily until you think the mystery might be solvable… but then you’re faced with yet another confusing situation. Unlike my earlier disappointing experience with mystery last week, Triangle delivered more puzzles than I could’ve anticipated. There is so much more than meets the eye. It’s a testament to the writer’s ability that he can create such an intricate thriller without losing or confusing the audience, because the twists are steep, bizarre, and seemingly endless.
Although Triangle is very bloody and unnerving, its strength lies in the emotional depth of the screenplay. This story is not about traditional scares, but vulnerability and humanity. The foundation of its plot relies on subtle symbolism and social commentary. Melissa George, who played Lauren Reed on Alias, delivers a solid, convincing performance as Jess. She carries the bulk of this movie on her back, and bears the responsibility well.
Another blogger, Jon Abrams, makes several astute observations about this movie, providing an intriguingly academic spin:
This movie is for fans of sophisticated narrative concepts and more intellectual, ideas-based horror (though there are a few good jumps and a fair sprinkling of gore.) The script by Christopher Smith is uncommonly smart – and, I think, water-tight – and his direction is confident and seamless. The bright, super-saturated cinematography by Robert Humphreys and the brisk, clear editing by Stuart Gazzard, not to mention the excellent score by Christian Henson and the strong performances by the deliberately unfamiliar cast (all Australians tasked with Florida accents); all of the tools in Smith’s toolbox are perfectly employed.
Triangle could easily have been a disaster. In the wrong hands, with the wrong writer at the helm, this symphony could have dissolved into a hot mess. But, instead, like a lock that opens only when multiple keys are inserted and turned in unison, every element of the mystery snapped into place. Minute… by… brilliantly unfolding minute.