Escaping from the Ghosts Within

A psychological horror, Triangle sets out to be very different from the conventional movies about terrifying ghosts or gory murderers out in the public today. Starting out with the usual horror movie elements like a dim background, sound effects emphasis, and sudden appearances of unexplained phenomenon, Triangle then takes the viewer to a unique and thrilling psychological experience. Reminiscent to the setting of the 2002 movie Ghost Ship, the movie shows Jess, a mother of an autistic child, as she battles her fate of being stuck in an endless cycle of a phase in her life.

Progressing through movie, what is important to note is how the antagonist is shown as not merely bad luck but as the central character herself, Jess. In the pursuit of escaping her horrifying fate of being stuck in the endless cycle, Jess tries to kill everyone including her alternate selves as a prerequisite for her to go back to her identified reality of having a son alone and stuck in school. However, as we, the viewers, found out, her son was not in school but actually died in a car crash before she, presumably dead, set sail with her friends on a possibly metaphorical voyage to turn time around and to set things right with her son.

From my own inference, I can draw a hypothesis that Jess and her son both died in the car crash given certain clues present in the course of the movie. However, because Jess was portrayed as an abusive mother to her son, her consciousness or soul in the afterlife tried to set things right. She had an inner urge of wanting to change not only her inevitable fate of dying with her son in an accident but also, and more importantly, of her attitude to become a better and more loving mother. This is why we see how Jess ultimately tried to salvage her son by killing her old abusive self. In her voyage in trying to escape her fate, however, the viewers will realize that Jess actually becomes more embedded in the harsh realities of her life and suffers eternal guilt of not being able to change the past. This sort of “entrapment” and “helplessness”, as also seen in many horror movies, becomes a dominant emotion after watching the film.

Triangle emits a certain kind of psychological horror to the reality of not being able change fate. However, more than a man versus nature kind of conflict, there arises a more personal one: Jess against herself. For the viewers, the horrifying notion of being powerless in fate comes especially in the presence of guilt. This sense of guilt is moreover amplified especially in wake of realizing one’s wrongdoings too late, like Jess seeing herself as abusive and becoming guilty about it already too late.

Because of the inability of our human consciousness to turn things around (like to time travel or to erase from our conscious memory the wrongdoings that we have done), this harsh combination of mixing guilt and the inevitability of fate turns into a very horrifying experience for us, everyday humans. While the movie is open to other interpretations because of its open-ended nature, it ultimately explores on the horrific ideas of the human powerlessness to fate and also of being trapped especially in a mental or emotional context. In the end, no matter how we try to escape life’s harsh realities, we are simply helpless when faced with fate, more so in trying to change it. Like what Stephen King said, “We make up horrors to help us cope with the real ones.” Wrong turns in life will make us have to forever live with the haunting ghosts born within us.


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