Triangle: the horrors of human experience

Sometimes a good horror film does not have to contain grisly, in-your-facemurders in order to be effective. Specific phenomena, human experiences and even the way the mind works is sometimes even scarier, largely because of its complex nature and our own need for the answers to the questions why andwhat? The thing is, what the protagonist experiences, the viewer sees and in some way experiences also. At the same time, what we perceive can be twisted and manipulated, either by some outside force or from within, to the point it is difficult to distinguish what is real and what isn’t. And when all comes down to processing, does it even make any sense? Such is where the film Triangle derives most of its horror from.

I initially thought it was gonna be another slasher because of the cast and the initial exposition of the story. It starts off with a typical group of people going on a trip which goes horribly wrong and they somehow end up dead one after the other. But boy was I wrong! Different sorts of crazy occurred by the time the first batch of murders had finished. By the time I’ve finished it, I quickly looked online to search for some explanations, theories, comments and the like in search for answers to questions that had surfaced in my mind. The film contained several mysterious phenomena such as the Bermuda Triangle,dejavu, and many even tied it to the Greek mythology character Sisyphean. One thing was also obvious. Jess was trapped in a time-loop; a brutal, nightmarish experience incomparable to Bill Murray’s Groundhog Day.

 One analysis I’ve found in the internet, was particularly interesting. I will quote the author’s (anonymous) full paragraph below:

There are 2 layers to the movie. “Real Life” and what I will call “Sisyphean Punishment” The real life part is Jess with her son and being abusive towards him and eventually getting into an accident which kills both her and her son. The Sisyphean Punishment relates to Greek Mythology which is referenced in the film about Sysiphus being punished in Tartarus by being cursed to roll a huge boulder up a hill, only to watch it roll back down, and to repeat this throughout eternity. So in a sense the rest of the film is her boulder that she tries to make things right with her and her son only to fail each time at different spots. Most of the things in the film didn’t really happen. So after the accident which kills her the taxi driver (Could be considered the devil) makes a deal and strings together events which eventually lead her back to what seems to be reality which she can change, but each time she fails it starts over in an endless loop. The people on the yacht can be considered the dead or just part of her trial to try and make things right. You can interpret it other ways, but the references to Greek mythology make sense to this theory.

I’ve found no other better analysis for the movie than this one. It is so perfect, out of all seemingly convoluted devices and plot full of paradoxes, a tragic yet meaningful story surfaces. Jess is trapped forever in that nightmarish cycle unless she finally moves on, e.g. coming with the taxi driver. But she cannot do so because she wants to save her son. The irony is that as she enters the cycle once more determined to change the outcome, she only puts herself into the position in which she completes and reinforces the cycle. She might be able to break it with the newfound knowledge etc. But there are two ways of looking at it, she either retains her memory or starts off again ignorant. If she does, then it would be great. Yet remember when she goes to the yacht and meets up with the group for the first time in the movie, or at least after they board the ship for the first time, she only experiences glimpses of dejavu but no complete recollection of what happened. Now if we assume it is part of the cycle, it would mean that she has just come from the last phase of the cycle, which was her conversation with the taxi driver. So it could only be implied that she should start off again as a blank slate, or possibly lost some of her memory during the storm and relearn all these.

This film for me took a step not to redefine but challenge us to expound our view on horror. It speaks to the audience, “the murder scenes are only my smart way of distracting you for a brief moment. This is what you see now, but let me show you more horrific things than that.” Horror goes beyond splattering buckets of blood. Horror is the primal fear of the unknown/fantastic, a moral allegory and psychological. The “unknown” can come even from ordinary human experiences. Death for example, is a phenomenon each of us will undergo at some point in our lives. Is this how nightmarish and sadistic our punishment would be after death if we use the Christian framework of heaven and hell? Furthermore, it could go as deep as to question our reality. What is real? What isn’t? When we dream and have nightmares, isn’t it similar to what Jess has experienced? For the viewers, the film challenges us and leaves the film to our own interpretation and assessment of Jess’ reality. Our fear of not being able to change the past due to some mistake and things we’ve said or done (in this case, Jess’ abusive behavior to her son) are all under the scope of moral allegory (good vs. bad, regret vs. redemption), psychological horror (the conflict is within her own self).

After much thought, I’d place this film, as one of the smartest, most challenging and if not, one of the best horror films I’ve ever seen.


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