OCTOBER 24, 2009
When Stir Of Echoes came out in the fall of 1999, lots of really stupid people declared it a ripoff of The Sixth Sense, idiotically assuming that a film could be written, shot, edited, and released in a span of about 7 weeks in order to have a response/cash in on a similarly themed film. Unfortunately, Triangle won’t have that timeframe on its side, as it is incredibly similar to Timecrimes, which was released about a year ago. Director Chris Smith announced it as his next film way back in early 2007 (before Timecrimes had debuted anywhere), but again, people are idiots, so I don’t envy him when it comes time to sell the film to an audience.
The gimmick is exactly the same though, right down to the fact that the “killer” is disguised via a wrapped cloth around his head. But unlike Timecrimes' sci-fi based time travel machine, there is nothing here to explain why Melissa George finds herself in a time loop (the “Triangle” of the title does not refer to Bermuda) that results in a 2nd act revelation that the person she has been attacked by is none other than herself from a previous timeframe.
Instead it’s more like Groundhog Day, where she has to keep repeating the sequence until she gets it right. But, in the film’s best invention, she is not going back in time per se, but instead everything is sort of regenerating. So as she tries again and again to escape the loop, she discovers evidence of previous attempts; bodies of seagulls pile up, a floor is littered with crumpled papers, all of which contain the same hand-written note, etc. Sort of like when you respawn on Halo and see your old corpse still lying on the ground near the rockets you died trying to obtain. These little “oh SHIT” moments are the highlight of the film, and I couldn’t help but wonder how much more fun I’d be having had I not seen a film with the same central gimmick.
It’s certainly a step below Timecrimes in the protagonist department. While I love to look at Melissa George, she’s simply not given a very compelling character to play here, and I got tired of her failed attempts to intercept the other people on the boat before her double did Why she can’t just approach one of her selves and explain what’s going on (there is certainly enough evidence thanks to the body piles) is never addressed, to the movie’s detriment.
It also doesn’t use its supporting cast enough. Again, I’m not complaining about having to look at George the entire time, but the others are dispatched too quickly time and time again; each of them get a single scene to play against George, but are otherwise sidelined throughout the process. One guy in particular all but completely disappears, which I guess is Smith’s way of making HIS dedicated scene all the more meaningful when it comes up (near the film’s end), but actually has the opposite effect, as his lack of involvement in the proceedings made the character feel less significant than he was designed to.
Still, it’s an engaging premise, and a well-shot film to boot. The final twist (well, 2nd to final, the actual final one is a bit of a groaner) that sort of explains why she is in this predicament is not only interesting but somewhat daring, and given the rather poor history of horror movies set on boats, the fact that it’s pretty good is somewhat of a major achievement on its own. But even knowing that it was not a ripoff left me feeling a bit cold on the proceedings (and in turn, those who see this before Timecrimes will likely find THAT film to be a bit underwhelming), so ignorant audiences are likely to find little to enjoy here. And if nothing else, the film proves that Smith (who wrote the script, as he did for Creep) is a better director than a writer, as he now has three films and the one that is by far the best (Severance) is the only one he didn’t write alone. Trust in others, mate.
What say you?