At first glance, Triangle seems like a done-before psychological thriller, but by the time I got to the third act, I knew I was in for a mind-bending horror story.

If you were to summarize John Milton’s description of hell in Paradise Lost, it would be the same as saying hell is a place where you endure unimaginable despair over and over and over again. On a lighter comparison, it’s like being locked in a room and being forced to listen to a broken record, uninterrupted, for a whole week; if that sounds agonising, imagine how horrifying it would be to listen to that broken record for eternity. Written and directed by British filmmaker Christopher Smith, Triangle is a surreal depiction of that hell and can be perceived in several ways but ends up as a satisfying genre bender with a fantastic conclusion.

Although I have had this film on disc format for a few years now, I never really thought much of it because the film opens with the pulp fiction of a B-movie production. That being said and having recently watched the entire film, I must admit that the experience has left me shaken. Co-funded by the UK Film Council in collaboration with Screen Australia, this film is in fact a low budget production that turned out to be a commercial flop. But wait. There is a reason why it is still a critical success and this is largely due to the cleverly written story arc. At first glance, Triangle seems like a done-before psychological thriller. Thirty minutes into the film, I found myself stuck between a sci-fi time paradox and a gruesome murder mystery, but by the time I got to the third act, I knew I was in for a mind-bending horror story.

Smith’s nuance is in shrouding the viewer with a darkening mystery. This is when we meet Jess (Melissa George), a single mother struggling with an autistic son. She is clearly troubled, so decides to take the day off by joining a group of friends on a boat trip. Her friend and skipper Greg (Michael Dorman) is the first to notice that Jess is reeling from a personal crisis; this and the fact that Jess has not brought her son along for the trip. Not long after the party of six sail into the open sea, they encounter a freak storm that leaves the boat capsized and one person missing. Now this is where you need to start paying attention (if you haven’t already) because things are about to get absolutely bizarre. Jess and the remaining survivors are rescued by a 1930s ocean liner that appears out of a fog. Once on board they find the ship abandoned but in pristine condition. And even as they discover that something is not right about the ship, they are picked off one by one by a mysterious killer lurking in the shadows.

Even if you have been paying attention so far, there will be questions running through your mind. Bermuda Triangle? Ghost ship? Without giving away spoilers, all I will say is the premise is far more diabolical than you would expect. Just as the mystery starts to unravel, Smith throws in a kicker of a twist ending that is not only well timed but also highly thought provoking. For a horror film, Triangle doesn’t attempt to reinvent the horror genre and neither does it exploit it. This is not a Hollywood slasher and you won’t find grotesque creatures tearing people’s limbs apart. As an intelligent little horror-thriller that demands attention to detail, Smith’s story and George’s lead performance single-handedly holding the story together, the film more than makes up for deficiencies in the production budget. And for what it’s worth, Triangle still manages to stand shoulder to shoulder with older classics, notably, M. Night Shyamalan’s Sixth Sense and even Christopher Nolan’s Memento.

Rating: ★★★★☆

About Lloyd Bayer

Besides his passion for travelling, photography and scuba diving, Lloyd is a prolific film critic having contributed hundreds of film reviews to web and print journals, including IMDb and local daily Khaleej Times.