What makes a horror movie? Hollywood blockbuster films typically include nightmarish creatures of the dark, psycho killers, special effects and more so a feeling of powerlessness. All these are rooted in one of the oldest human emotions which is fear. Fear and the weird often complement each other, we fear what we do not completely understand, things that are unusual and unnatural – those that we have come to label as “weird”. The movie Triangle is one that I found weird. It begins with the main character Jess comforting her son. Sometime after, she drives away distraught to meet her friend Greg for a sailing trip. Not long after they begin to sail, the group receives a disturbing call for help, from someone aboard another ship. The plot takes a turn for the weird from that point onwards, as the characters find themselves stranded on an upturned yacht until a ship called Aeolus arrives. Jess, Greg and the others get on Aeolus, only to find a crazy killer after their lives. Jess is the one able to discover their murderer’s identity, and sees that the murderer is a double of herself.
It becomes easier to identify the movie as “weird” because as the story unfolds, viewers like me slowly realize that it is Jess’s destiny to become the murderer. Having escaped death from the hands of another version of herself, Jess tries to find out why it is happening to her. Fate is a weird thing. While most humans believe in their own free will, their capacity to direct their own lives, fatalism disrupts any human’s self-determined patterns. In the movie, each time Jess tries to break free from this circle of death, she only propels her fate. The main Jess that the movie follows progresses to become the killer each time she survives. Initially she became the killer because she discovers the fact that everything resets to the time before her group gets on the boat if she is able to eliminate everyone. Her only intention was to simply avoid the whole thing. The task becomes difficult when more Jess’s avoid death. The main Jess knows what is going to happen each time, but this knowledge does not change the course of events. From an audience member’s point of view, I felt scared for Jess who was stuck in this eternal recurrence, unable to progress having to experience the death of her friends a number of times – reminiscent of Sisyphean torment. Towards the end, the audience is given a breath when Jess is finally able to escape from the Aeolus, and wakes up on the shore. She rushes home but sees that a different Jess is abusing her autistic son. The movie comes full circle when it was revealed that the Jess who woke up on the shore is the same one at the beginning of the film, comforting her son. The mother and son run away, and unfortunately meet a terrible car accident leaving the son dead. That is the moment when Jess understands why she has to join her friend’s sailing trip and come aboard the Aeolus. It is a chance to save her son.
No explanation whatsoever is given to clarify why these things happened to Jess, which in my opinion is what makes Triangle a more horrific horror film. After watching the movie, I have come to learn that I am also afraid of “weird” things I cannot understand like fate. Jess wasn’t an evil person who needed to be punished, she was just another single mother struggling to raise her family, and she was unfortunate enough to be trapped – unable to be an agent of change, fated to live in the circle of death. These ideas, these topics – fate, monsters, and fear, possibly contribute to why the horror film genre is sometimes marginalized in the film industry; because less people recognize the medium. Not a lot of people are open to the feeling of fear, as seen in the tendency to stay away from own phobias. Hopefully with the rise of the popularity of zombies, vampires and other creatures of the night, more people will be open to horror film and to the endless storylines it can offer.