Monday, February 8, 2010

Triangle (2009)

Directed by Christopher Smith
Starring Melissa George, Rachael Carpani, Emma Lung
Rated R

"You will come back...won't you?"

Usually I would just dismiss something this headache-making and undercooked, but Triangle has approximately 3.5 things going for it, so it probably deserves at least a glance. For one, it's ostensibly about the Bermuda Triangle, an easily dismissed legend about a mythical dead zone in the Caribbean that supposedly swallowed up dozens of ships and airplanes without a trace. Despite the overwhelming evidence that nothing out of the ordinary ever happened there, Bermuda Triangle Mania took over the US in the mid-70's, sparking endless debate and a flurry of cash-in books, documentaries, TV movies, and shoddy exploitation films, including the infamous lost/imagined/maybe-real Ilsa Meets Bruce Lee in the Devil's Triangle.

Since humans are a tiny bit more sensible now, the Bermuda/Devil's Triangle chatter has died down significantly, so it warmed my 70's nostalgia cockles to see a modern film take on this decidedly creaky premise.

Also, Triangle is directed by Christopher Smith, who scored big with cult-flick fans for his 2006 woods-bound slasher Severance which featured, among other tasty treats, shirtless Chechnyan prostitutes shooting machine guns. His previous film, Creep, was a pretty swell hot-chick-VS-subway monster nail-biter, as well. So, you know, high hopes.

It's also got an amazing poster. And in the good old days of exploitation, that was really all you needed.

Perhaps most importantly, Triangle also stars volcano-hot Melissa George wearing short-shorts and a cleavage-hugging wife-beater. For the entire film.

So, how can you go wrong, really? Well, you could cobble together an incomprehensible script that no one, including the film's cast, could possibly understand. George is Jess, a beleaguered single mom with an autistic son. She works as a waitress in a diner near a marina, and makes friends with one of her frequent customers, a sailboat skipper named Greg (Michael Dorman, Daybreakers).

Greg invites her out for a sail one sunny afternoon. Along for the ride is his young charge Victor (Liam Hensworth) and a trio of his old friends. They hit the open sea and are suddenly beset by a freak storm that destroys the ship and leaves them stranded, floating helplessly on the hull of their shattered boat.

Out of the fog arrives a mysterious, ghostly cruise ship. They jump on board to find it abandoned. Or is it? Jess finds her own house keys and other artifacts from her life on the ship, and before they can figure out exactly where they are and why they're there, a sniper with a very familiar-looking pair of shoes starts picking them off, one by one, with a rifle. From there, the story begins to peel away, like an onion, wavering queasily between the supernatural and the delusional. Is it really happening? Is it all a dream? Are they all dead?

Listen, if I knew, I'd tell you. While the film bears more than a passing resemblance to the far superior Time Crimes (2007), that film's logical narrative kept you tethered to reality during even its loopiest moments. Triangle, on the other hand, has no idea what it's talking about. By the eye-rolling anti-climax, you are no closer to an answer than you were 90 minutes ago. It's like asking a schizophrenic for travel directions - you get plenty fanciful mumbo-jumbo, but after it's over, you're still lost.

A UK/Australian co-production shot in New Zealand, Triangle looks great, and there's a couple of inspired moments of horror buried in the mix. In one hair-raising scene, a character crawls into a corner to rest and nurse her wounds, only to find a hundred dead doppelgangers who also had the same idea. The design work on the ghost-ship - a sort of 1930's art/death deco - is suitably unnerving, and the cast, as clearly befuddled as they are, do a fine job with what they've been given. It's just fucking annoying to invest so much time in a film that offers nothing in return.

Melissa George appears to relish these heroine-in-distress roles - see also Amityville Horror (2005), Derailed (2005), Turistas (2006), and 30 Days of Night (2007) - but this is clearly the least of her ongoing 'violent thrillers' cycle.

But still. Hot girl with an axe!

Men are such suckers.

- Ken McIntyre


  1. Weird coincidence - I watched this last night. I think I agree with everything, except I wasn't watching it for the hotness factor of Melissa George (my boyfriend got furious with her facial expression after about 15 minutes - I had to talk him down).

    The movie was ok.

  2. About the movie plot? Yeah, sure, but those theories involve acknowledging a lot of plot holes.


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