REVIEW: Triggered (2020) – FrightFest 2020 Digital Edition

dir. Alastair Orr.

A group of nine ex-high-schoolers reunite for a camping trip in the woods: but after waking up strapped to suicide vests – with varying amounts of time on their countdown clocks – they realise they can either work together to find out why… or steal more time from another player by killing them.

In the years since the Saw franchise ran out of scream (the up-coming Spiral excepted) its cultural legacy of death-traps and game-playing continues to echo through the genre like one of John Kramer’s old cassette tapes. What perhaps marks Triggered out from countless imitators though is its mischievous sense of humour: for whilst Jigsaw was given to wanton moralising here the focus is more fun, the film-makers clearly wanting to play a different sort of game.

This is owing to the fact that, despite the obvious debt to Saw, influences are drawn more widely: there’s hunting humans from The Most Dangerous Game (1932); the murder-your-mates setup that hints at Battle Royale (2000); and – perhaps most enjoyably – ticking death-clocks which nod to Justin Timberlake vehicle In Time (2011). As concepts go, the prospect of beautiful people working out their issues with axes and knives before they go bang is a slice of Friday night gold.

For Triggered is deliciously fun, the nastiness of the characters inspiring both salty dialogue and crowd-pleasing deaths. Some ill-judged bi-phobic slurs aside, the tone here is joyful as unlikeable villains meet untimely ends, whilst deft performance work from Reine Swart and Cameron Scott manages to hit surprising resonance in amongst the carnage. And stick around for the mid-credit sting: a delightful cherry(bomb) on top that cements the whole game as a blast. In every sense.

Tim Coleman

TRIGGERED has its UK Premiere at FrightFest 2020 Digital Edition on 28th August 2020.

Published by Tim Coleman

Film critic. Screenwriter. Academic.

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