“Only one of you will leave the woods alive tonight.”
Young people alone in the woods might be the most classic horror movie setting of all time. Youthful happiness set against a vast backdrop of the impassive earth is the perfect combination of innocence and danger. But it’s also a great way to signal to your viewers that you’ve seen a horror movie or two.
In the movie, nine friends are on a camping trip in the woods. The recent college graduates had been close in high school, but after the tragic death of their friend Caleb, things started to change. While the group seems happy enough in each other’s company, tensions are still high. Try as they might to keep the peace, the conversation continues to weave closer and closer toward perilous topics. Sexual partners, professional success, and their deceased friend all keep finding their way into the discussion.
However, things take a turn for the terrifying when our campers wake up hours later to discover suicide bombs strapped to their chests. Someone wants them dead, but why? What did they do to deserve this? And what will they have to do to survive?
TRIGGERED is a swift and subversive little horror comedy that ticks all the classic slasher boxes in a fresh context. Orr and Jones spend just fifteen minutes setting up their premise before diving head-first into the bloody meat of their story. Fans of guts and gore will get a good helping of practical effects and brutal kills.
There is one aspect of the film that viewers may stumble over, and that revolves around the comedy. It’s not immediately clear at the outset that this is, in fact, a parody. The first act is filled with jokes—off color jokes, horror movie references, and too-clever one-liners—but there is a disconnect. It’s not until around the fifty-minute mark that it becomes clear that the comedic aspects of the movie are self aware. And that slow genre revelation leads to humor that undercuts rather than relieves tension. Lines like “He’s crashing harder than bitcoin,” and a mid-fight discussion on the difference between Patrick Bateman and Jason Bateman might elicit a small chuckle. But the lack of a clear tone makes it hard to know if we should be worried for, or laughing at, our heroes.
Speaking of heroes, in this film everyone gets the chance to be the protagonist and the villain, and actor Russell Crous does a standout job as both in the role of Kato. Crous is delightfully over-the-top, lurking through the forest like a 21st century Jack Torrance. There isn’t a shred of subtlety to his performance, and it is a delight.
TRIGGERED is an uneven but enjoyable romp for slasher fans of the new millennium. TRIGGERED is available On Demand and Digital November 6th.