It was after the NAMBLA joke that I came to the realization that Alastair Orr’s Triggered had no inkling of being done in any good taste. Seriously, who has thought about NAMBLA since, like, South Park‘s Season 5? Meanwhile, it was after the sixth crash zoom within the first five or so minutes that I came to a similar realization: Orr’s film has no care for how genuinely ugly it looks (and believe me when I say it’s downright hideous).
Yet, somehow this all works? Believe me, I’m very confused too, readers. Triggered is so backwards, so determined to be pure schlock, that it might accidentally be good. At the very least, it sticks to its sense of style. My first draft of this review was more creative than this, and essentially was a running monologue between two bro screenwriters trying to put this franken-movie together. I scrapped it, but I think the point stands—this is a bro movie, bro. All the details feel calibrated towards a long shelf-life on Shudder, to be seen on a Friday night with the boys as you smash some taller boys. This is right down to the title which is far too close to the idea of being “triggered” to be anything but gauche.
Like all bro movies, you can pretty much simplify this plot down to a tagline statement. Here, I’d suggest Triggered is akin to “Craig S. Zahlers Saw IX: Battle Royale”. I cannot really hide the fact that I find this plot very silly. But the story of nine high school students strapped to individual bomb units that have a countdown timer—which you can add more time to by killing someone and “stealing” their time by the way —has a perverse charm to it. It’s faux-high concept, in that it is high concept, but pointlessly so. The idea is that it’s sadistic. There’s an explanation provided, but the film doesn’t really seem too convinced of its own explanation.
Instead, the film leans further into its manic energy. If you guessed that this script would feature a murderers’ row of references, you’d be correct. Does a character get corrected for referring to the killer of American Pyscho as being “Jason Bateman?” If you have to ask the question you already know the answer. But again, the lack of charm found within the script weirdly winds up being a charm in and of itself. Orr concocts some kind of voodoo magic here. I normally loathe this kind of film.
But for some reason I didn’t here, and I can’t really put my finger on why exactly. It might just be the fact that the film so earnestly believes in itself, that’s it’s refreshing in a world where most media is heavily irony poisoned. The Saw films are obviously referents here, but I might suggest that they’re referents in more ways than one. People forget just how earnest Saw was during its heyday. This has that same energy.
I imagine that you’ll know pretty quick whether or not this is your cup of tea. I certainly can’t suggest that you stick around if you’re not feeling it after the first dozen minute or so. But if you find it slightly interesting, then you’re likely to find something interesting inside Triggered—bro.
- Release Date: 12/1/2020