by Jason Coffman
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The best way to watch Triangle for the first time is to know as little about it as possible. This is a trait that it shares with a few similar recent films, but mentioning their titles would be saying too much. Hopefully the following three facts will be enough to convince you that this film is worth seeing: it was written and directed by Christopher Smith (Creep, Severance), it stars Melissa George and it involves strange happenings on an abandoned cruise ship. Knowing much more than this will at least partially spoil the experience, so in case anyone wants to continue reading this before watching the film I’ll try to tread carefully.
Melissa George plays Jess, a waitress and mother of an autistic son named Tommy. One sunny Saturday, Jess agrees to go out sailing with Greg (Michael Dorman) and his friends. After a violent storm capsizes their sailboat, the survivors are relieved when a cruise ship headed in their direction appears on the horizon. Once on the ship, though, they find that their situation has perhaps not entirely improved: the ship appears to be completely abandoned except for the mysterious figure they saw walking on the deck. And whoever that is doesn’t seem to be very happy to have company.
At this point the film seems to settle in for easy comparisons, but writer/director Christopher Smith has some truly mind-blowing surprises in store. Fans of this sort of puzzle film will find some of the film predictable but certainly not unsatisfying, as some of the pieces fit together in unexpected ways. Melissa George has to carry the entire film, as she’s in virtually every shot, and she absolutely delivers. Without her compelling central performance, the film wouldn’t be nearly as powerful as it is, especially in the last act. When Smith pulls the rug out, it’s a genuine shocker, and a big part of the impact is in George’s excellent performance.
Triangle would have been on my year-end list for 2009 if it had been available in the U.S. last year, but instead it’s fallen victim to the fate of too many excellent horror films in the last few years. It was picked up for direct-to-video release here in the States, which is a damned shame. Many casual filmgoers will likely dismiss it entirely— the awful cover art doesn’t help matters. As much as it pains me, I’m going to have to hold on to Triangle until my 2010 recap, but there’s no question I’ll remember it. It’s the kind of film that lingers in your mind and draws you back to rewatch while you tease out its secrets.
First Look released Triangle on DVD and Blu-Ray 2 February 2010. Special features including a “making of” featurette and interviews with the cast & crew.
Jason Coffman is a film critic living in Chicago.
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