Triangle (US - BD RA)
Gabe boards a surprising little horror/thriller, and gets critical...
Jess (Melissa George), the single mother of an autistic child arrives to a planed sailing trip, and pseudo date, dazed and confused, to the worry of her fellow travelers. The day trip goes wrong when the yacht encounters a freak storm and is overturned. The survivors are saved when a ghostly ocean liner passes them by. Once aboard Jess begins experiences the strangest sense of déjà vu, and strange events compel the survivors to search the seemingly deserted ship, leading to many bloody demises.
Whether it be a Death Ship, a Ghost Ship, or even The Poseidon, movie boats are mostly untrustworthy creatures. In the case of Triangle I’ve learned that haunted boat movies are extremely old hat, and while mixing in heavy-handed Twilight Zone and a certain unnamed Harold Ramis movie elements helps, it also ends up creating a new bunch of problems, some of which viewers will find particularly frustrating. Triangle probably could’ve gotten away with being a rough and rugged, violent little B-movie, but it quickly devolves into a superficial morality play, enacted by decent actors with little character definition to work from. Occasionally the scares work on a visceral level, but the emotional beats are shallow, and sadly more predictable than writer/director Christopher Smith (director of the slightly disappointing, but occasionally brilliant Severance) intended. The second act starts shows some real promise and unpredictability, though the boat setting remains a little incongruent.
Ignoring the overused creepy boat setting (clearly the plot was based around the setting and not the other way around), and without delving into spoilers, I can guarantee that things take an interesting turn. Unfortunately, there’s like half an hour of good looking, but ultimately unnecessary footage we’re left to contend with, and it hurts the intended emotional intentions. There’s not a lot of logic behind the events once gears change anyway, so why focus so much on the why’s and how’s of the first act. Shorn of the first 30 minutes Triangle would be a solid Masters of Horror episode. Smith is a good technical director, at the very least, and some of the fight/kill scenes are cleverly, kinetically filmed. For a cheaper movie the special effects are pretty good, especially the sea based disaster scene, which almost compares to its big budget counterparts. The digital sea gulls don’t fair quite as well. Gore-hounds should be moderate satiated by the splattery kill scenes, and the occasional nightmare images that I can’t spoil here.
Triangle never appears to be a particularly well-endowed budgetarily speaking, but it’s shot well enough to cover some of the problems. The first thing that comes to mind is utter whiteness that defines the early moments. This transfer is blown-out with sunshine whites, which bleed over the occasionally non-white surfaces like skin, hair and clothing. But non-white surfaces are rare. The ship itself is mostly white, as is the majority of the wardrobe, the daylight sky, not to mention the skin tones. The blacks that make their way into the mix are pretty darn deep, and when the storm rolls in they take control nicely. The details are sharper in the harsh lighting, and the overall look is cleaner. Some of the low level interiors feature more noise that I’d expect, but most of the exteriors, even the clearly artificial ones are clean. The interiors of the ghostly ship are grainier, with occasionally awkwardly blended warm hues, and probably the least consistent moments on the transfer, including a few shots that appear as if they were entirely composited in a computer, for some reason. As the weirdness of the plot extends the colour schemes become more abstract, including some nice, solid gels, especially the red of the radio room. Some of the digital effects really suffer under the sharper capacity of the transfer, and I think the 2.35:1 framing is a little too tight, but overall this is one of the better independent Blu-ray releases I’ve seen.
Triangle is fitted with a fun and full-bodied Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack. The sea based plot gives way to some immersive sea based audio effects, from subtle creaking boat and rolling wave moments, to the more extreme storm scene, which sounds a little artificial, but certainly keeps the stereo and surround channels busy. When people make their way onto the creepy boat eerie sounds and ambient music take control, and directionally speaking these are more or less perfectly placed. There were a few moments I definitely glanced over my shoulder to verify I was hearing the speakers and not something in the room. Voices, footsteps, gunshots, anything else meant to move moves according to logical placement. The LFE works out in a punchy fashion during the storm scene, then works in a more abstract way during the spooky boat scenes (I guess it’s supposed to be the engine making all that noise). The musical score doesn’t feature a lot in the way of recognizable or re-hummable themes, but has some big loud drum moments, and a cool throbbing motif to keep the chase scenes moving.
The only extra, besides a few First Look trailers, is a collection of cast and crew commentaries (6:00, SD). These are recorded raw, clearly with an EPK in mind, with bad sound, and are intercut with brief behind the scenes bits, and scenes from the film. Not very informative, but reveals that these people all have British accents in real life.
Triangle has some major problems, but has quite a bit going for it, more than enough to recommend a viewing for horror and thriller fans. The film is predictable from moment to moment, but not until the right amount of information is given, which is more than I can say for a lot of modestly budgeted thrillers. The impressive and clean look leads to a very nice high definition transfer, likely the best I’ve seen from First Look Studios, and the Dolby TrueHD soundtrack features a plenty of ambience and direction based scares. The extras sadly amount almost nothing, but fans with import capabilities should be excited by the upcoming UK release, which features quite a bit in the way of special features. Horror fans should rent with low expectations, they may find themselves surprised, or at least entertained.
*Note: The images on this page are not representative of the Blu-ray release.
Review by Gabriel Powers
Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian
Release Date: 2nd February 2010
Disc Type: Blu-ray Disc
Audio: Dolby TrueHD 5.1 English
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
Extras: Cast and Crew Interviews
Easter Egg: No
Director: Christopher Smith
Cast: Melissa George, Liam Hemsworth, Rachael Carpani
Genre: Horror and Thriller
Length: 99 minutes