Trigger Man (2007)

JUNE 25, 2007


Tonight I checked out the new film from Ti West, Trigger Man. I guess I could save you, me, and the Google index caching service some time and just copy/paste my review for The Roost, because all of the problems I had with that film were just as evident here.

Having apparently learning nothing about pacing and editing from his previous effort, West once again gives us a 20 minute film stretched into an interminable 80 minutes. Why he continues to do this is beyond me. From an editing standpoint, even Uwe Boll improved from House of the Dead to Alone in the Dark. At the Q&A, he said that the project was made quickly, and was more or less an experiment that he did to pass time while waiting for other projects to come together. And I must laud him for that (notice I do not consider the movie Crap); the ‘let’s make a movie’ attitude is one I cannot disdain. I’d much rather see a bad film from a guy who genuinely loves making films than an OK one made by people who are clearly out to make money. It’s great that he has that much enthusiasm for the process, but unfortunately that enthusiasm doesn't seem to be translating into an equally impressive film.

A few weeks back I watched a delightfully terrible movie called Devil Times Five. When that movie was first shot, the editor came up with a cut that lasted like 40 minutes. I kept thinking about that as I watched Trigger Man, because like his previous film, West serves as his own “Editor” here. But I don’t think the movie was ‘edited’ so much as it was ‘assembled’. What the hell could he have possibly cut? 90% of the “scenes” (read: endless shots of one to three characters silently walking through the woods) are shot in one master, with the camera whipping around Blair Witch style rather than, I dunno, CUTTING from one character to another. Some scenes (shots) last 3 minutes long and serve no narrative function whatsoever. The character development is next to zero, and half the time the three leads aren’t even talking to one another. All we learn is that they have the ability to walk near trees for long periods of time, something that doesn’t really pay off. One could assume West was trying to lull you into a calm before the brutal attacks (which ARE quite striking, as they come out of nowhere), but he continues to do the same thing even in the ‘action’ scenes. Had another editor come in, I am sure his cut would last no longer than a half hour, so long as he had any sense in his head. What could have been a great and terrifying (the two things I fear most: spiders and snipers) short film is now an 80 minute endurance exercise. Maybe if he makes another film like it, some bright spark can edit the three down to their appropriate 20-30 min lengths and make a nice little anthology. Until then, both films are best used for drinking games:

*Every time a shot lasts longer than one minute with nothing going on in it, drink.
*Every time a character actually talks, drink twice.
*Every time you say to yourself “OK, something will happen in this next shot” and it doesn’t, drink as much as you like.
*Every time the camera zooms in and out for no reason whatsoever, take a shot AND an aspirin.
*Every time you leave the room to pee or something, and you come back and it’s still on the same shot, cry.

But at least this movie doesn’t have a segment where a narrator tells us that a scene sucks and rewinds the film so he can ‘redo’ it. So there’s something.

What say you?


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