REVIEW: Triggered (FrightFest 2020)
The first film I watched from this year’s online Frightfest film festival was Triggered. The film follows a group of people who have gone camping in the middle of the woods. Tensions are already high between the so-called friends, but this only gets worse when they wake up later to find that they’ve all had bomb vests strapped to them. An electronic timer is attached to each of the vests and they figure out that, by killing one ‘player’, they can take that person’s remaining time. From there, its last person standing in delightfully gory fashion!
Being a fan of the Saw and Final Destination franchises, the premise was what caught my attention, and I was not disappointed with the film. It delivers on the fast-paced action that is to be expected of a film likes this, with some fantastic, and rough, fighting choreography.
While the characters are thinly written, the actors all play their roles brilliantly. A note-worthy performance goes to Russel Crous, who plays Kato. He’s untrustworthy from the start and, from the moment the plot goes into motion, we see him slowly descend into a psychopath. Because the rest of the characters were stereotypically dramatic when it comes to this type of horror film, it was refreshing to see Kato embrace the inner demons that he clearly had. None of the characters are likable but it works to the film’s advantage with the battle royale-style premise. If you don’t like a certain character, don’t worry: they won’t be on screen for very long! By doing this, the film is more focused on the gore and chaos of the crazy situation. Triggered shouldn’t use its running time for character development, and it doesn’t.
However, the characters’ relationships/friendships are unbelievable and this is an issue for when the vests are strapped to them. From the second they’re introduced, they’re fighting and arguing with each other, so their trust in each other is broken to begin with. Like previously mentioned, the film doesn’t care whether the characters are likable or not, as they have a short lifespan in this. However, the logic of them spending time together makes no sense. So, when the main plot does start, it’s hard to believe that these characters wouldn’t be at each other’s throats straight away.
The motivation was also weak and, by the third act, convoluted. For a film that kept it fairly simple throughout most of its running time, it then tries to cling to a backstory, revolving around a party and an accidental murder, to explain why these characters have been picked for this horrific game. It wasn’t necessary and, because the film had already established itself as a ‘popcorn horror flick’, the backstory is pointless and quickly mentioned before being brushed aside again. What the film should’ve done instead is have the game be created by a cult or serial killer. Sometimes simplicity is better and that is the route Triggered should’ve gone down.
While Triggered has thinly written characters and a weak motivation, its true purpose is to deliver a fast paced and gory horror film, which it succeeds in doing. This was a fantastic rollercoaster of a viewing experience and does not waste its running time getting to its main plot point. This is recommended for fans of Saw and The Belko Experiment.