Film: Triangle

Just to start the confusion, these two are the same person.

Triangle is a 2009 British-Australian psychological horror film directed by Christopher Smith (who also directed Creep and Severance).

The story revolves around Jess (Melissa George), one of the passengers of a yachting trip in the Atlantic Ocean who, when struck by mysterious weather conditions, jump to a deserted cruise ship only to get stuck in either a "Groundhog Day" Loop, Stable Time Loop, Alternate Timeline, Bad Future or Close Enough Timeline.

Yeah... It's pretty confusing...Naturally, Everyone Is Jesus in Purgatory occurs.

Not to be confused with the 2007 Hong Kong film of the same title.


This film provides examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: Jess, as it turns out (both physically and verbally), although she really does love Tommy.
  • Action Mom: Toyed with. Maternal figure Jess reveals her decent combat skills while on board.
  • Alpha Bitch: Sally, to an extent.
  • Alternate Timeline: The first time the first Jess meets the second Jess ignoring the Killer Jess before a new timeline has been created where the other passengers died differently. Subverted in that the two timelines play off at the same time and each influence each other. For example the new timeline eventually causes the second Jess to have her own story, which we don't see, where she eventually killed some of the passengers as the second masked killer which eventually made the first Jess turn into the first masked killer.
  • Ambiguously Gay: Greg seems to be viewed this way by Downey: "You are living on a boat with an 18-year-old boy and you are asking me not to bring girls." He later also inquires if Greg and Victor sunbathe together. He seems to be implying that the two are involved.
  • Amicable Exes: Greg and Sally used to date in high school, and still refer to each other as their "ex". They remain best friends to their late 20s when they die.
  • Amnesia Loop: Both versions of Jess who turn up at the harbor have underwent traumatic experiences and it is evident in their behavior. Later in the timeline of the first of them, she falls asleep for a couple of hours. When she wakes up, one of the first thing she mentions is "I don't remember". During the loop she seems to re-learn things that she had forgotten about. One interpretation is that the loop gives her temporary amnesia and she keeps attempting to recover her memories. When she succeeds, its time for the cycle to re-start.
  • Anti-Villain: Jess kills all her friends, but she did it in order to stop the time loop from happening.
  • Apologetic Attacker: "Mean Jess" from the second loop, after she's finished repeatedly stabbing Downey. "I'm sorry, but I love my son."
  • Arc Number: Several scenes occur in either the residence of Jess or a cabin of the Aeolus. Both are numbered "237".
  • Asshole Victim: Arguably Sally, due to her bitchy and disdainful attitude towards Jess (even going so far as to snottily refer to Jess' son as a "retard").
    • Jess herself. At least, the original Jess, who was physically and verbally abusive towards her autistic son, and was killed by the 'Time Loop Jess' whom we follow through the movie. Also, 'Mean Jess', who brutally stabbed Downey and Sally, ends up getting beaten to death by yet another Jess (presumably an earlier iteration of herself).
  • Atop a Mountain of Corpses: Sally atop Sallys.
  • An Axe to Grind: Jess uses an ax to fight off Mean Jess.
  • Bat Deduction / Insane Troll Logic: When she becomes aware from the time loop, Jess tries to prevent the deaths of her companions. Trying to rescue them from somewhat more experienced versions of herself, and consequently trying to stir events to a different reaction. When that fails, she concludes that she has to kill them to end the loop. Because all the previous versions of herself eventually tried to do so. That she has not seen even one of them succeed in breaking the loop, and that she has personally taken out one of them evidently fail to convince her that this method doesn't work either.
    • She doesn't think she can end the loop by simply killing them, she wants to kill them in order to trigger a new loop and then prevent them from boarding the ship in first place (standing on the stairs they use to get on the ship with a bag on her head and a shotgun in her hands would probably do the job). Unfortunately, she's forced to go overboard by her past self before she manages that.
  • Beta Couple: Sally and Downey.
  • Break the Cutie: Jess.
  • Break the Haughty: Sally.
  • Broken Bird: "Mean" Jess from the second loop. We don't get to see her full story, but Word of God believes her to be a Jess who has gone through the loop so many times she's become callous and psychotic.
  • California Doubling: The film is set in Miami, Florida, but was filmed entirely in Queensland (Australia). Both Florida and Queensland are known as "The Sunshine State"; a nickname used on a road sign in the film.
  • Camera Abuse: When the record player plays the broken record, we see a couple of freeze frames in sync with the jumping of the needle.
  • Cassandra Truth: Greg doesn't believe Jess when she claims that she's sure she's been on the boat before, trying to tell her that it's all in her head.
    • Victor figures early on that something is off with Jess, because she had trouble answering where her son was and then claimed he was at school. On a Saturday. He warns Greg, who ignores the warning and theorizes that special needs schools are open at weekends. Jess is lying and her son is dead by this point.
    • The cab driver warns Jess that there is no point in trying to save the boy (her son). Yet she voluntarily re-enters the loop in an effort to do just that, despite the mounting evidence that it is futile. One view of the events of the film is that the only way to actually end the loop is for Jess to finally quit trying.
  • Child Immortality: Averted with the death of Tommy.
  • Classical Mythology: The plot lays out a personal hell for Jess with obvious references to the story of Sisyphus. According to the myth, Zeus enchanted the rock so it would roll down before reaching the top of the hill. Jess' intent to save her son represents that enchanted rock which crushes her every time she rolls it up. That's why she always ends up dead no matter how the loop turns, either in the accident or killed by herself on the ship.
  • Come with Me If You Want to Live: Mean Jess asks this of Sally and Downey. They pay with their lives for trusting her.
  • Couldn't Find a Pen: Downey starts to write his killer's name on the mirror using his own blood, but dies partway through.
  • Cynicism Catalyst: The car crash that kills Jess' son marks her Start of Darkness.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Victor. Per the backstory, got in trouble at home (wherever that is), run away, and spend time as a vagrant. Greg found him sleeping at the harbor and took him in.
  • Death of the Hypotenuse: Averted. Heather looked like the designated character to complicate the Greg-Jess relationship. However, she exits the stage before a serious Love Triangle could unfold.
  • Designated Love Interest: Greg to Jess. Per his words, he only visited the diner out of hunger and not loneliness. He didn't feel the need for female companionship, until one day prior to the events of the film when he suddenly decided to ask her out. The two are barely acquaintances, and it isn't clear if there is more to their "romance" other than they didn't have anything better to do for the weekend.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Jess reaches this point twice. First on the ship when she realizes that she can't set things rigth and subsequently turns into a Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds. The second time this happens after the car crash that kills her son.
  • Disappeared Dad: Jess raises her son Tommy as a single mother. No indication what happened to the father, though she casually mentions that he was an asshole.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Some have theorized that the time loop is a divine punishment to Jess for abusing her son. However, she shows genuine remorse for doing it, and it's hard for the audience not to forgive her pretty quickly.
    • Also Jess deciding to slay her other self for having slapped Tommy seem harsh. But she probably figured there was no room for two Jess in the same continuum. So one had to go.
  • Distress Call: The Triangle gets one from the Ghost Ship. It amounts to nothing.
  • Dramatic Unmask: The Internal Reveal when Mean Jess unmasks to reveal her identity to the audience.
  • Dreaming of Things to Come: While on board Greg's yacht, Jess dreams of her body washing up ashore on a beach. This happens much later on the film. Due to the nature of the time loop, this scene may instead be a fading memory of a previous cycle of the loop
  • Drop the Hammer: Jess smashing the original Jess' head in with a hammer.
  • Drowning Pit: The interior of the sailing boat becomes a Death Trap when water floods in during the storm.
  • Dying Clue: Downey, with his last breath, manages to write "Jes" on the mirror using his blood. Too bad, Jess sees it first and subverts this trope by changing the message.
    • Also Greg, before he dies, lets Sally and Downey know who killed him.
  • Easy Amnesia: It looks like sleep has this effect on Jess. Her nap in the cab and later on the yacht make her forget everything that is going to happen. However, some vestigial memories remain which lead to her having deja vu moments upon entering the ship.
  • Enclosed Space: The crew being trapped on a Ghost Ship with a mysterious killer.
  • Endless Corridors: The ship features a couple.
  • Expository Hairstyles: Tommy's bowl cut screams: mentally handicapped.
  • Extremely Short Timespan: The story plays out within one day.
  • Fate Worse Than Death: Jess is stuck in a presumably endless time loop (or purgatory, depending on your interpretation) in which she murders her friends and accidentally kills her son over and over again.
  • The Ferry Man: The cab driver. Jess' promise to return to the taxi cab mirrors the promise Sisyphus made with Death. Read more about the mythological reference here. For more theorizing on his character see the WMG page.
  • Final Girl: Jess ... sort of.
  • First Name Basis: The main characters address each other by first name only: Downey, Greg, Heather, Jess, Sally, and Victor. No family name is ever given. Curiously, they are not that familiar with each other.
    • Greg is a longtime friend of Downey and Sally, and the current employer of Victor. Jess seems to be a recent acquaintance, and he has never met Heather before.
    • Victor was an 18-year-old vagrant which Greg took in as an employee and roommate. There is no real indication that he is particularly familiar with the rest of the crew.
    • Downey and Sally are friends with Greg and Heather. They don't know or care much for either Jess or Victor.
    • Heather is a friend of Sally, and an acquaintance to Downey. She doesn't know any of the others.
    • Jess became acquainted with Greg at her workplace, but this seems to be the first time they spend any time together. She has no known previous interaction with Victor, and does not actually know any of the others.
  • Fish Eye Lens: Used for some of Jess' Sanity Slippage scenes.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Tommy's capsized toy boat in the pool.
    • Jess apologizing to Greg which makes a lot of sense in hindsight.
    • Jess dreaming of herself stranded at the beach.
    • Greg points out to Jess: "But you can't be everywhere all of the times". For most of the film, there are three versions of Jess roaming around the Aeolus.
    • The record player on the ship, playing the broken record. note 
      • Moreover, Jess moves the needle backward on the record rather than forward, perpetuating the loop instead of moving beyond it.
  • Future Me Scares Me: Jess threw the masked killer overboard which she later finds out is herself. The second time it happens the killer has even been unmasked, but the new Jess tries to kill her anyways.
  • Futureshadowing:
    • Somebody ringing the door bell at Jess', which later turns out to be her future self.
    • Pretty much everywhere on the ship.
  • Ghost Ship: The Aeolus is deserted, its crew and passengers apparently long gone. The ship actually dates to The Thirties and there is a photo of it dating to 1932.
  • Gold Digger: Sally expresses the belief that Jess is after Greg's money, and that her sob stories about an autistic son are part of an extortion plan.
  • The Grim Reaper / Archangel Gabriel / Manipulative Bastard / Alternative Character Interpretation: The taxi driver, due to Epileptic Trees. Christopher Smith himself has even suggested The Grim Reaper theory.
  • "Groundhog Day" Loop: Jess witnesses the death of her co-passengers from different views because apparently the whole situation starts all over again when they die. Subverted because for everyone she has killed apparently the corpses stay.
    • Except sometimes they survive for a bit longer, only to die in other ways, in other places, and sometimes their bodies stay... or don't.
  • Heroic BSOD: Jess has one in the ship's machine room, after her desperate attempt to stop the ship's movement by demolishing the wheels and cogs.
  • Hollywood Autism: Tommy, son of Jess, is a mild example. Male child who is unable to live what most people would call a normal life. Otherwise his behavior is not that abnormal for a child, including an interest in painting, a tendency to leave his toys everywhere in the house, and leaving the occasional accidental mess when handling liquids.
  • Hollywood Driving: Jess is distracted by her son in the backseat, so she turns around for several seconds without looking ahead and crashes into an oncoming truck.
  • Idiot Ball: Jess during her Killer Jess phase. She quickly understands that she's in a time loop and tries to break it and after several failures, she comes up with a plan to stand on the boarding platform and stop the group from entering. It could very well work if she didn't purposefully run into the fight she had with herself in the first part of the movie even though she knows she will get thrown from the ship and obviously won't be able to break the loop. She could have let her past self run around and go to the platform or at least not do the same things she saw doing herself the first time. The only reason she does this seems to be to get her character back to the city and advance the plot.
  • I Hate Past Me: Future Killer Jess, having gotten tossed off the boat, finds herself at the beginning of the day and sees herself physically abusing and yelling at her kid. Hating what she used to be, and having long since jumped off the slippery slope she smashes her past self's head in and tries to take her place. Somehow this does not result in erasing herself from time, but sets up an infinite loop.
  • Impending Doom P.O.V.: Some shots on board of the Aeolos are done this way, presenting the POV of Jess secretly observing the other passengers.
  • Ironic Hell: Everything mean Jess has tried to do to get back to her son (killing her friends being one of them) has led to her being directly responsible for his death, starting the sequence all over again.
  • It Was Here, I Swear: When Jess wants to prove her point and show Victor the body of Downey floating in the water, it is gone.
  • Jumping Off the Slippery Slope: Jess.
  • Kill 'em All: Mean Jess asks this of Jess and eventually this becomes true for every character but the cab driver.
  • The Killer In Me: When Jess boards the Triangle she knows she is gonna kill the other crew members at some point. But she goes through with the plan anyway.
  • Lost In Transmission: Sally's Distress Call received by Greg on the Triangle cuts off before any vital information could be exchanged.
  • Made of Plasticine: In the midst of trying to convince Victor that they keep dying and coming back to start everything all over again, Jess accidentally kills him by pushing him into one of the pointed hangers attached to the wall, completely penetrating the back of his head.
    • Subverted a bit in that he doesn't die right away, and in fact appears to suffer a bit of brain damage and die from an internal hemorrhage rather than the wound itself. Still, a hanger piercing that deep into the skull is not likely.
    • Actually this seems quite legit as the hanger seems to penetrate the part where the skull and spine connect, there is a small area that isn't protected neither by the skull or the spine, you should be able to even feel it when your neck muscles are relaxed. However this raises the other question of how does he keep moving around after having his spinal cord snapped.
  • Make It Look Like an Accident: Happens unintentionally. By virtue of the car crash, the corpse in the trunk turn from murder victim into casualty.
  • Mama Bear: To save her son Jess is willing to kill her best friend and everyone else on the yacht. And when she comes across a third Jess mistreating him she murders her.
  • The Matchmaker: Sally is not too subtly trying to be this for her single friends Greg and Heather. Greg is rather frustrated with the idea, and points out later that Sally keeps trying to bring him an eligible girl "every year".
  • Meaningful Name: The name of the ship, Aeolus, refers to a mythological Greek figure whose son, Sisyphus, was doomed by the gods to roll a boulder uphill for all eternity, where each time he reaches the summit the rock rolls over him and then back down again.
  • Mind Screw: You're gonna need multiple viewings to actually get everything, and even then you'll either be confused, thinking there's gonna be a sequel or that a sequel is impossible.
  • Minimalist Cast: The bulk of the story is told using five characters.
  • Missed Him by That Much: Jess and later Sally successfully hide from Mean Jess behind one of the many corners on the ship's maze of corridors.
  • Narnia Time: Subverted. Jess ends up back home where her son is still painting, but she's actually still stuck in the time loop.
  • Never the Selves Shall Meet: Averted. Jess throws the masked killer overboard, threatens the second Jess which created a second timeline, gets motivated by the second Jess who turned into the second masked killer to become the first masked killer and gets thrown overboard by the third Jess which will apparently walk the exact same path she did.
    • Jess discovered a grate in one of the ship's rooms through which she could see a whole pile of the locket she wears which indicates that there are presumably several if not many other Jesses that went through the loop, but she never meets them. Then her locket falls in with the rest...
  • No OSHA Compliance: The hook for rescue rings installed at head level.
  • Ominous Visual Glitch: In the scene where Jess listens to the broken record on the ship, the screen jitters in sync with the record needle jumping back and forth.
  • One-Woman Wail: During the dramatic confrontation at the ballroom between rifle-armed Jess 2 and at her gunpoint Jess 1.
  • Once More with Clarity: The opening scene shows several brief snippets of Jess' morning. We see this scene again toward the end of the film, and it becomes clear that the parts that were skipped over were Jess verbally and physically abusing her son.
  • Perpetual Frowner: Jess. She very, very rarely smiles, and when she does, it seems to be forced rather than a genuine smile.
  • Plot Hole / Leave The Plot Threads Hanging: The second Jess got a totally different story which may or may not have influenced the first Jess to become the masked killer of her own story which can either be a Plot Hole for the sake of the story or Leave The Plot Threads Hanging for a sequel.
    • Many of the loop's elements have no logical beginning, in a sort of My Own Grandpa situation.
  • Precision F-Strike: Jess employs the F word several times during her The Reason Why You Suck speach directed to her son Tommy after he spills the paint.
  • Protagonist Journey to Villain: Jess' journey from Damsel in Distress to Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds.
  • Punk in the Trunk: Original Jess' corpse in the trunk of the car, which soon after becomes an accidental crash victim.
  • Reset Button: Killing the other passengers is a reset button. Only it isn't a reset button.
  • Rule of Symbolism: The "Mean Jess" (as she was nicknamed by the director) from the second loop (the killer who was a lot more callous and brutal than the other Jesses) has a bullet skim the top of her head, causing blood to run down it. Later, the "past" version of Jess who is seen abusing her son has blood running down her face in the exact same pattern, from the exact same spot.
  • Sacrificial Lamb: Heather.
  • Sanity Slippage: Jess experiences this over the course of events on the Ghost Ship.
  • Set Right What Once Went Wrong: This is what Jess tries to do but only created another timeline which we don't see completely in the movie.
  • Shout-Out:
    • According to the commentary, the killer wearing a sack as a mask is a Shout Out to Friday the 13th Part 2, in which Jason Voorhees wears a pillow case over his head prior to the iconic hockey mask.
    • The film makes many oblique references to The Shining. As seen several times through the film, there is a message written in blood on the mirror of room 237. The Aelos is deserted as was the hotel. We see a ballroom and an ax at work.
    • There is a seagull which constantly follows Jess around, and which she is revealed to have killed in a traffic accident prior to the sailing trip. Per the director, this is an allusion to The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. The seagull is a stand-in for the albatross which the mariner killed, the event which set off his curse.
    • Another allusion to the tale of Ancient Mariner is the weather pattern of the sailing trip of the Triangle. Following the death of the albatross, the fair breeze blows and all seems right. Until they realize that the breeze led them to uncharted waters ,and then that breeze fades to dead calm. Trapping the ship of the Mariner.
    • The Mariner and his companions also met a ghost ship in the poem. A ship with only a deathly-pale woman and Death as its only passengers. Notice how pale Jess looks for much of the film. As for the description of the woman in the poem: "And is that Woman all her [ghost ship's] crew?/Is that a DEATH? and are there two?/Is DEATH that woman's mate?/Her lips were red, her looks were free,/Her locks were yellow as gold:/Her skin was as white as leprosy,/The Night-Mare LIFE-IN-DEATH was she,/Who thicks man's blood with cold."
    • The music in the record that Jess listens to is a rendition of Anchors Aweigh by Glenn Miller and his band. Miller famously disappeared while flying over the English Channel in 1944, and the music is probably an allusion to the fact that Jess and her companions are not about to return.
    • The original Sisyphus, who Jess seems to imitate, is said in the film to have cheated death, though the characters fail to remember how. While there are several versions of his myth, there is one where he broke a promise to the death gods. His family failed to offer him proper funeral rights, and he convinced the death gods to offer him a second lease at life in order to prepare his own funeral. He promised to voluntarily return to the Underworld and then failed to do so. In Triangle, there is a sign which says Goodbye, Please Return and Jess later promises the cab driver (a ferryman like Charon?) that she will come back to him and pay for her ride. Which she doesn't actually intend to do.
  • Slashed Throat: Downey, in the second time loop. This doesn't kill him straight away, and he ends up being stabbed repeatedly by Jess. He lives long enough to attempt to scrawl the name of his killer in his own blood, but dies partway through.
  • Sole Survivor: Heather in this interpretation. The interpretation being the whole group is actually dead and only Heather survived the accident on sea.
  • Stable Time Loop: Jess comes to the harbor looking dazed and eventually ended up being on the mysterious boat and threw a masked killer overboard. She realizes the "Groundhog Day" Loop and tries to break the chain by killing herself becoming the masked killer and getting thrown overboard. She drifted back to the shore where she was able to hitchhike back home seeing herself with her son. She killed her other self and wanted to dispose of the body which resulted in a car accident killing her son. She gets on a taxi to go to the harbor and the trauma seems to have caused amnesia. She comes to the harbor looking dazed and eventually ended up being on the mysterious boat, etc. etc. etc.
    • The trauma didn't cause amnesia. Jess gets on the boat at the end with the intent of killing everyone to reset the loop, then going back to fix things surrounding the incident with her son. The Jess that gets on the boat at the end is the Jess that is involved in the first loop which we don't get to see all of (when she was wearing the black jacket and went ape shit on the guy in the cabin). The time split didn't happen when she killed herself on the boat, it happened when she killed herself in the house. Word of God states that one of the possible interpretations of the film is that amnesia was involved... starting when Jess wakes up from her nightmare looking bewildered, almost as if she doesn't know why she's there.
  • Stopped Clock: The clocks on board the ship are stuck at 8:17 a.m. signifying the time of the car accident. Same goes for Jess' wrist watch.
  • Throwing Your Sword Always Works: Mean Jess throws he rifle at Jess when she runs out of ammunition.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Mean Jess, having gone through an Heroic BSOD and subsequent Face-Heel Turn, becoming a Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds.
  • Trunk Shot: Shot on Jess' face from within the trunk of her car where she placed the corpse.
  • White Shirt of Death: Both Greg and Downey sport white shirts which later get drenched in blood.
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: Jess and Greg.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: At one point Greg mentions that he decided to invite Jess to the sailing trip on an impulse. The previously smiling Jess stares at him and then adopts a sullen expression. One view of this scene is that she just realized that Greg and his impulse unwittingly set off the events leading to the time loop and all the carnage involved.
  • Villain Protagonist: From one point of view, anyway.
  • The Walrus Was Paul: Christopher Smith has stated that the movie is supposed to be ambiguous to let people interpret the movie in different ways.
  • We Hardly Knew Ye: Due to the time loop, viewers meet several versions of each main character except Heather, who is lost at sea before the main events begin. She is only there for the introductory scenes.
  • Weather Dissonance: The sailing trip goes well until the weather becomes odd. The ship goes from a speed of 7 knots (8.055 miles /12.96 kilometers per hour) to 0 in mere seconds. A change which Greg, the only experienced sailor among them, quickly marks as strangely abrupt. Then some kind of strange electrical storm turns up on the horizon, heading their way. A quick communication with the coast guard establishes that there is no other report of any strange weather in the area.
  • What Happened to the Mouse: What happened to Heather after their ship capsized? Other than the surviving suspecting she survived, got on the cruise, and dropped her keys (which was done by Jess by the way), we never know whether she survived, died, or became part of the time anomaly.
  • Who Wears Short Shorts?: Jess does.
  • Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: Justified. Mean Jess hesitates to pull the trigger on her other self on the deck. Naturally, this leads to the other Jess escaping the assault.