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March 2010

Triangle

cast: Melissa George, Liam Hemsworth, Rachael Carpani, Emma Lung, and Michael Dorman

director: Christopher Smith

95 minutes (15) 2009
widescreen ratio 2.35:1
Icon DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 9/10
review by Paul Higson

Triangle

We are now at that wonderful point where the British horror new wave is not only proven but that nearly every prominent director associated with it has been responsible for at least one good film if not a great one. Since 2002, Michael Bassett has given us Deathwatch and Wilderness, Neil Marshall: Dog Soldiers and The Descent, Julian Richards: The Last Horror Film, Wolfgang Buld: Penetration Angst and Lovesick, Sick Love, Marc Evans: My Little Eye, and Pat Higgins: The Devil's Music. It was doubted that some directors had it in them, but then Adam Mason and Simon Boyes stunned us with Broken, Jake West delighted with Doghouse, and we seemed to be waiting for only a few to finally come up trumps. Christopher Smith had already won some over with his second film Severance but, oh no, not I. The roundly disliked Creep and the stumbling, daft and unfunny Severance offered little hope but, hey, I'm happy to have been proven misjudged and here we are again with an immense leap out of the dull and the daft up into the smart league.

It is no secret that Smith's Triangle is mind-befuddling entertainment. Like Peter Riski's Dark Floors it is an Escher picture puzzle of a movie yet, moreso, as Dark Floors dallies with additional tricks and flourishes whereas Triangle concentrates on its paradoxical storytelling. It places the film closer to Nacho Vigalondo's Chronocrimines (aka: Timecrimes), though in that film the answers lay in the appliance of science fiction and the closure is tidy to the point of genius. Triangle looks for a satisfying alternative in the supernatural and come the movie's end is the antithesis of closure as the film reveals that if anything it has neither an ending nor a beginning. It is a viewer torment of which I approve.

Melissa George is Jess, a single mother with an autistic son, and the toll is showing on the young woman, a little unkempt, the former Neighbours girl-next-door common-or-garden blonde beauty has been corrupted by a haunted and distressed appearance. Her expression is uncertain, there is a struggle to cope with her lot and calculate where she is anymore. She has a new possible love interest in Greg, a well-to-do Mr Perfect who does not seem to mind her single mum status, or the difficult son, and who has invited her onto his yacht for an afternoon's sail. She arrives at the harbour a little more dazed than ever. Victor (Liam Hemsworth), the adopted beach bum who sails and boards on the vessel, is the first to encounter her, and notes her bizarre behaviour to Greg, but the whole idea behind the day is for them to get to know one another better and for Jess to also become acquainted with some of Greg's friends. Sally (Rachael Carpani) has a few ideas of her own, and thinks that one of her old friends, Heather (Emma Lung), would make a better prospect for Greg. Sally's husband, Downey (Henry Nixon) makes up the six on board and the yacht puts to sea.

Before they can return black clouds gather and waves surge nearly sinking the ship with the loss of one of their number. The sky settles and a cruise liner appears, the survivors boarding the ship to find it deserted. Jess' key fob turns up in a corridor where it could not possibly be as the unbroken group have not passed that spot and it is thought there colleague may have found the liner before them. Suddenly the group are set upon by a mystery killer in a sackcloth mask. The group is quickly and shockingly reduced, particularly given the attentive introduction to the characters, until only Jess remains in a violent battle with the killer. But as the film is still only half an hour in, there is obviously more and, as an upturned yacht with a familiar troupe of storm survivors is approached by the liner, it becomes apparent that the five are in a temporal nightmare trap in which any of them can repeatedly die and any alteration to the circumstances will eventually result in the current conclusion or branch off into other more horrifying directions.

Triangle leaves one dizzy with its horrors, unpleasant decisions and outcomes, but even when you think it is over and the conundrum broken, it is not, and a more despicable twist duly arrives. James Moran continues to play his part in the success of the British horror and merits kudos for his screenplay. A solid, positive critical reception and an October opening helped the film towards a domestic gross of �548,903. It has to be said though, that like My Little Eye before it, because of its Miami setting, largely Australian location shoot and not even a token English accent, this does not feel at all like a British production, though the UK Film Council, Framestore and Dan Films are three of the companies in the mix.

It is marred only marginally in a couple of overdone CGI effects, all the more unforgivable regarding Framestore's heavy involvement. The first shot of the cruise liner looks too much like an effect. This point is immediately emphasised by the very real shipboard location that works so well for most of the film's running time. The Sisyphus legend too, and the analogy it becomes, is also a little steeped in the obvious now, but otherwise this is a tremendous upward bounce for Smith and we can only hope that he will maintain that standard of excellence now that it has been reached.



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