Melissa George had but a small role in Mulholland Dr., but David Lynch’s lauded film shares a certain tangentially related, woozy mind-fuck quality with Triangle, a doom-loop genre nightmare which finds a woman fighting for both her sanity and life aboard a mysterious ocean liner.
George stars as Jess, a waitress and the single mother of an autistic little boy. When Jess accepts a sailing invitation on the boat of a friendly customer, Greg (Michael Dorman), along with a group of his friends, she can’t quite shake the feeling that something is wrong. Her suspicions are realized when the yacht encounters a sudden, raging storm near the Bermuda Triangle, and the entire group — which includes Sally (Rachel Carpani) and her husband Downey (Henry Nixon), their tag-alonggal pal Heather (Emma Lung), and Victor (Liam Hemsworth) — is forced to board a passing ocean liner, the Aeolus, in an effort to secure safety.
At first glance the new ship appears deserted, but Jess is convinced she’s been on board before, even though no one believes her. They soon realize they’re not alone, however, as a masked figure starts hunting them down, one by one. Jess survives and comes face to face with this apparent killer, only to confront a grander mystery that puts her back near the midpoint of her very unpleasant day. Will she be able save others on the ship, or even herself?
The movie’s Bermuda Triangle angle is fortunately just a throwaway bit of packaging — a sop to marketers. There’s not a lot of investment in the mythology of the area, in other words. Instead, Triangle is essentially a robust genre exercise studded with identity-crisis issues. I really give away very little when I say that the film toys with perceptions of reality, presenting events that may be manifestly “true” alongside things that may exist inside the mind of one or more characters. For a thriller, it’s a conceit which reaches a bit of a natural point of diminishing (or at least deflating) return when it dips back into the well in its second and third acts, replaying portions of its action from a different perspective. George’s involvement and performance, though, help mitigate this slack; she’s engaging, and eminently watchable.
The execution here, though, is what mainly gives this movie a kick in the pants. Writer-director Christopher Smith (Severance) showcases superb editorial instincts, and Triangle is engagingly photographed to boot. Lesser versions of this story would have dawdled on gore, or amped up the bickering and character histrionics, in naked attempts to inject drama, but Smith seems to have a smart sense of how to feed the action beast while also allowing for a few slower moments of confusion and dread to play out. This keeps one involved in the story, leaning forward a bit in their seat. Triangle stumbles a bit in the end; its ending doesn’t completely come together, and while that’s no grand sin considering what Smith is reaching for, the movie seems to be both willfully ambiguous while also reaching back for a knockout haymaker that exceeds its grasp. Still, there’s moderate, to-scale enjoyment to be had here, especially by thriller fans who enjoy a good puzzler more than affected shock.
Housed in a regular plastic Amaray case in turn stored in a cardboard slipcase with a lenticular cover that differs from the main case’s photo art, Triangle comes to DVD presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen, divided into a dozen chapters, with an English language Dolby digital 5.1 surround sound audio track, and optional English SDH and Spanish subtitles. Apart from a gallery of preview trailers, there is no supplemental bonus material, save a six-minute featurette which choppily cuts together interview material from writer-director Smith — who recounts the genesis of the project, sparked in on-the-fly fashion from spotting an ocean liner while at Cannes pitching another project — producer Jason Newmark, George, and the rest of the cast. To purchase the DVD via Amazon, click here. B- (Movie) C (Disc)