ARROW VIDEO FRIGHTFEST DIGITAL – Film Review – Triggered (2020)

An eclectic circle of mates reunite for a woodland campout under the dark clouds of tragedy. During the night they are sedated and wake to find themselves bound in airtight explosive vests. On each is an ominously decreasing digital countdown and a surprise encounter with an ex-teacher enlightens them that only the last one standing will prevail.

Thrust into a deranged version of Saw meets Fortnite, they soon realise that killing a fellow victim transfers their remaining time to the nearest person. So begins a blood-drenched Battle Royal that lends an entirely new meaning to spending quality time with your friends.

Alastair Orr follows up From a House on Willow Street with a pernicious survival piece that delivers pertinent social commentary as well as crowd-pleasing chaos.

Directing with infectious verve and editing with primal velocity, Orr knows better than to give his film a brake pedal. He never allows the dust and flying body parts to settle, unleashing a whirlwind of frenetic face-offs to plaster over the fractures in the narrative logic. 

The script from David D. Jones is crammed with zeitgeisty dialogue, florid one-liners and broad cultural references. From Johnny Depp’s relationship circus to Patrick Bateman and the semantics of axe murdering, it strikes a harmonic tone between past genre references and spunky modernity.

On a deeper level, it also holds water thematically as we watch our protagonists hollow out their conscience canoes and sell each other down shit creek with piss for paddles. A neat microcosm of the narcissistic machinery often employed in social climbing and career advancement, and a sharp examination of the politics of solidarity. As one character puts it, “People you can really trust, don’t have to convince you of it all the time.”

Jones’ writing does a huge amount of the heavy swabbing needed to sponge up the repetitious residue of the endless running around with torches, and the film does well to lean on it.

The cast is clearly having a blast with the physically demanding material and achieves a level of emotional connection that will have you picking sides. Cameron Scott is particularly endearing as rock drummer PJ, a sweet dufus with a band resume that rivals Steaming Wolf Penis in terms of salacious appellations. 

Carnage wise, the body count is hearty and the violence, although knowingly cartoonish, is delivered with a noxious relish that will satiate the gorehounds. The largely practical effects are juicy and impactful with exceptionally viscose bloodwork. A little more variety in terms of location and methods would have elevated it further above standard slasher fare. However, the slaughter curve is definitely steep enough to exploit the flicks flamboyant premise. 

These days it seems that no genre film can take its leave without a twist or two and Triggered is no exception. Seriously, the freshman year of horror 101 must be one long Hitchcock lecture on loop. So often it can derail a picture, or worse still nullify all the hard work that preceded it.

That being said, the rug pull here is well-timed and as bonkers as the badass butchery before it and as such does not discompose the viewer.

Triggered is a deliciously bitter and bloody kill fest. Infused with talent, care and enthusiasm it is also a highly entertaining midnight flick that does exactly what it says on the high concept can.

★★★★

HORROR CHANNEL SCREEN – 9.30 PM – FRIDAY 28TH AUGUST 2020

Survival horror, Thriller | South Africa 2020 | 90 mins | The First Order | Dir. Alastair Orr | With: Liesl Ahlers, Reine Swart, Sean Cameron Michael