Writer/director Chris Moore, also known for Blessed Are the Children (2016), uses social commentary and comedy to tell the story of a serial killer in the new film TRIGGERED. With the success of recent films like Get Out, TRIGGERED has an interesting concept, but will what could be a rewarding horror comedy meet its goal?
Meredith Mohler plays Callie, a teenage, self-proclaimed social justice warrior who spends her time reporting fellow students for things like wearing chopsticks in their hair, because she calls it cultural appropriation. The school’s principal, Gloria Fielding, played by Amanda Wyss (A Nightmare on Elm Street), is the sole survivor of a brutal attack and she has had about enough of Callie being triggered by the actions of other students.
I think I understand the point this movie is trying to make. Obviously, it’s a parody of society right now and as much as I wanted to enjoy that, I just feel like it falls short of its mark. Some of the jokes work and some of them don’t. Callie is the most obnoxious character I’ve seen in a long time and it’s difficult to appreciate how delusional she is while watching her go off the deep end because you just really want her to stop talking.
Years ago, a masked killer went on a murder spree and it looks like the killer is back when students start turning up butchered. While Callie is busy pointing out what she perceives to be social justice violations by other students, her best friend Ian (Jesse Dalton) just wants Zac (Sam Furman) to notice him. Jesse Dalton gives a strong and sometimes hilarious performance as Ian. He’s been friends with Callie his whole life and as much as she appears to be an LGBTQ+ ally, she’s actually holding him back from pursuing his dreams. Callie doesn’t like the attention the murdered students are getting and when she accidentally kills someone, she enlists Ian’s help in covering it up and sees her chance for fame.
Callie hatches a plan for her and Ian to stage an attack by the masked killer and make them seem like the only survivors. Callie becomes a local celebrity, but what she doesn’t know is that another student witnessed and filmed her actions and is planning to blackmail her. When the blackmailer demands money, Callie reaches her breaking point and a new level of insanity. In a plot twist in the final and most exciting act of TRIGGERED, the killer targets Principal Fielding and Ian and the true identity of the masked maniac with a knife is revealed.
While TRIGGERED boasts impressive and entertaining performances from Amanda Wyss and Jesse Dalton, the majority of the characters seem uninspired and stereotypical. I get that that’s part of the “joke”, but it just doesn’t work for me. I do want to applaud Meredith Mohler for her ability to portray what a truly reprehensible megalomaniac Callie is, even though overall this film is not as much fun as it could be. TRIGGERED has the potential to successfully lampoon the current social climate while being a lighthearted slasher movie, but too much of the comedic element falls flat. You can expect to find out if you’re triggered by TRIGGERED when it’s released in 2019.