Triangle Review

The Film

I have this dream. I wake up, I wash and I leave the house to catch the bus. There's too many people on the bus and the journey takes forever. I avoid other passengers eyes, I try not to stare and I close my ears to screaming children. The bus eventually arrives and then I work, and I work until I go home and do everything again the next day. I am never entirely sure where this dream will take me but I know it will start again when I wake up tomorrow.
Jess is a young mother of an autistic child, doomed to everyday repetition for the child's good. When the chance of a days sailing and some romance comes her way she seizes it and her boat trip ends in a terrible storm. Along with her fellow sailors she finds rescue on board an abandoned ocean liner, and then everything starts to go wrong again and again.

Christopher Smith's first two films showed that he is not short of concepts and Triangle sees him working in Australia with a particularly high concept. Like many a modern genre film-maker, Smith enjoys a twist or a familiar idea recast in the fantastic. Think of his two prior films. Severance was the team building event from hell, and Creep played with the danger of the last tube train home.
In his third film, he seems at ease with his high concept of purgatory at sea and his desire for meaningful drama is more successfully executed than in either of his previous works. Smith exploits his audience's sense of routine from their daily lives and uses the feeling of limbo that we all experience in our dreamlike yet ever repeating existences.

Smith finds pathos and terror in the trap that Jess finds herself in as events spiral and develop almost regardless of her efforts. Every moment that she tries to self determine brings with it more consequences that she can't fathom, and unintentional collateral damage that she never foresaw. In that sense Triangle is horror created from the desire to escape and run, and even if it is not wholly novel it is expertly crafted.

Smith's film has echoes of The Shining, and obvious thematic resemblances to movies like Ghost Ship and Dead Calm. It travels in the footsteps of great movies about futile escape but it does pack an emotional punch in the central predicament of Jess, an imperfect mother trying to put things right. In that respect, it reminded me greatly of Hideo Nakata's Dark Water and that is no bad thing indeed.
This kind of very technical film can lack empathy because structure becomes so important in keeping the concept going, and I would say that there could have been some further simplification of the exposition to improve the viewing experience. Though what really makes this a compelling watch is the expertly managed tension and the powerful sentimental performance of Melissa George.

Triangle is that rare thing - a high concept movie that isn't just about gimmicks. It will make you feel and it will not remind you of a completed puzzle that you don't want to come back to. The first time will be good but I think you will want to return to an effective piece of emotional terror again and again. Perhaps you will not be able to stop yourself from setting sail and getting lost in the here, the now and the what could be.

Technical Specs

Triangle is presented at 2.40:1 and given an impressive sharp transfer. Parts of the film display very high contrast, I think to hide some wobbly CGI, and other moments are pretty de-saturated so colour balance and black levels need to be very well judged, and I am pleased to say that they are. The only issue is some yellow discolouration on the left-hand side of the frame throughout. There are natural edges and plenty of detail, and all evidence points to how nice this will look in high definition.
A 5.1 mix is offered with a healthy bitrate and plenty of ambience. The LFE track is a constant menace rumbling and evoking the natural world, and the directionality of effects is first rate across the speakers. Dialogue is shot front on so unsurprisingly the centre and front channels are the only ones utilised for it. Removable English subs and an audio descriptive track is also available.

Special Features

Christopher Smith proves an amiable and earnest companion on the commentary track. He has clearly prepared for the track and decides to discuss his inspirations for the story such as The Shining and his research on creating unease via a reading of Freud's The Uncanny. He is rarely silent and regularly intriguing, and he is never precious which is rare in director commentaries these days.

The disc is navigated as if you are walking about the ocean liner with CGI hallways leading you to the options with snatches of the score over the top of the images. Smith and his producer Jason Newark explain how the idea for the film came about when they were in Cannes in the making of documentary. Cast and crew contribute and we get to see some of the filming and effects shots as it happens. There's a great spirit and an honesty to the comments which raises this featurette above the usual PR pieces and I quite enjoyed it.

Three deleted scenes are included which have clearly been cut for pacing as they are quite incidental and over talky. There are also three sets of storyboards which can be navigated through after watching the film to compare against what you have seen. The drawings are rather small on screen though so it is a bit of a squintathon.

Really redundant is the announcement of the winner of a poster competition as an extra. Lord knows who thought that would be of interest to all but the winner's closest family! The final extra is a short featurette on the film's storm sequence which illustrates the use of visual effects therein.


A terrific horror film with a bit of class is given a fine treatment with some good extras.

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