Triggered (2020) Explodes with Cheesy Slasher Goodness
First Wide Release: November 6, 2020 (Digital/Streaming Platforms)
Director: Alastair Orr
Writer: David D. Jones
Runtime: 94 Minutes
Starring: Reine Swart, Russell Crous, Liesl Ahlers
Where to Watch: Check out where to find it here
Director Alastair Orr’s fifth feature film follows a group of friends who take a detour into the woods before their five-year reunion. After some partying they wake up to find themselves unwilling participants in a deadly game. Each of them are strapped into a suicide bomb vest that they cannot detach with different sets of time allocated to each person. Their old high school science teacher and father of their late friend explains he has one last lesson for them to learn. Without explaining any of the rules, he initiates the game and dies by suicide. Regrouping after splitting up, they learn that once their timer goes out, they will explode, but that if someone kills someone else, they will earn their time and outlive them. Will their friendships outlast the bombs or are they willing to kill the people they call best friends?
Triggered is a gleefully bloody slasher that lacks in finesse but makes up in explosive charm and humor.
What could be a lost relic of the late 90s or early 00s, if not for the pop culture references, is this fine piece of slasher cheese. From the beginning, we know these kids suck. Like, absolutely suck. We casually get to know them over an inviting bonfire, and learn that they have no problem cutting into each other even before their lives depend on it. Between innuendos of secrets and unfulfilled desires and insults of intelligence, demeanor, and ambition, no one is truly safe. So, the audience is already cheering for these brats to get offed even before the games begin.
As per interviews conducted earlier, Orr states that his intentions in making this film were to see “sensitive, woke, SJW millennials being thrown into a grisly death match.” I will not argue with the director on his vision, but aside from a few throwaway lines no one really fits that descriptor here. The characters are all pretty awful, but they’re pretty indistinguishable from any other similarly set up horror film, they just have their flaws amplified a bit more.
Camp to its core, Triggered focuses on delivering on the carnage and comedy more than anything. The film is loaded with references to herpes, love triangles galore, and dialogue from a dude who, for some reason, does his best to pull off a Batman voice when going postal towards the end. Russell Crous does an admiral job and definitely becomes the most cartoonish villain he can be. I’m still unsure if it lands, but he definitely leaves an impression! As for the dialogue, it gets pretty cringey. It feels more like a bad writing type of cringe rather than it emanating naturally from the picture through characterization or situational circumstances. That also could be from the cast slipping in and out of their South African accents, but who knows.
The bomb vests themselves added a lot of fun to the film. Obviously, a film can get pretty repetitive fast if it relies on the same type of action. Luckily for us, not everyone explodes, but the few who do all go out a little differently. The vest is equipped with a voice who will add a few words of discouragement before it takes the friends down. The explosions, as well as most of the death scenes, are well choreographed and use solid effects work. The gore is over the top in Triggered, but it never oversteps its bounds which is great to see.
At the crossroads of I Know What You Did Last Summer and Saw, to me, Triggered is everything I want in a fun movie. Its premise is over the top, its characters are wacky and larger than life, and it is simply a great flick to turn on while turning your brain off. Sure, the dialogue can get really out there, and some aspects of the script aren’t fully thought out, but there’s a heart behind the film that makes it respectable. While I won’t oversell it too much, I guarantee that Triggered is a blast of a movie if you approach it from the right mindset.
Overall Score? 6.5/10