Triggered, a Dark Horror Comedy, Film Review
Outcast Callee Bishop (Meredith Mohler) sees herself as a modern poster girl for cultural appropriation inappropriate actions relating race, gender, sexuality and everything in between can be seen as offensive. However, despite fighting for her cause Callee still feels that her voice is often unnoticed and with a serial killer now on the loose, it is the victims who take the limelight, whilst she continues to be ignored.
In a plan to regain the attention Callee decides to use the killings to her advantage, enlisting the help of best friend Ian Falwell (Jesse Dalton) to help stage a fake attack from the serial killer. As a victim, Callee finally gets the attention which she craves, but unfortunately for her, the news hasn’t escaped the attention of the real serial killer. As the bodies continue to pile up both Callee and Ian find themselves danger, they must keep the secret to themselves whilst staying ahead of a killer who is looking to add them to the list of kills.
Writer and director Chris Moore returns to the horror genre again with his latest film Triggered, which like his previous film Blessed are the Children (2016), creates a well-balanced blend of social commentary, dark comedy and horror. Triggered takes a stab at a modern trend of cultural appropriation, where almost any adoption of a minority culture is deemed to be offensive. Intended as a satire on the modern warrior it works perfectly to create some of the comedy in the film, even though it seems that some of the ridiculous ideals used are actually not too far from reality.
The film may have an overarching look of 80’s horror whilst set in the present, but you can also see the influences from the 90’s slasher films, which automatically draws comparisons to Scream (1996) and I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997). This is something which the film acknowledges, before deciding to throw the normal rules of the sub-genre out of the window. Triggered unfolds differently thanks to the complexity of the script, which focuses more on developing the characters and the social commentary. The fact a serial killer is committing several brutal murders actually serves as more of a backdrop to the film. Like the attitude of the characters, there is a lot more going on besides the murders and they have more important things to worry about than a killer who is on the loose.
Chris Moore has continued to develop his own distinct look for his film, which enables you to identify quite early on that this is one of his films from the colouration and lighting. As with his previous film, this also proves to be important to create the mood and emotions of the scene. The simple ideas and concepts works especially well in some of the more understated elements such as the lighting on the face, or the changes in colours schemes. The delivery for some of the concepts may seem subtle, but they do add a unique aspect to the film.
Meredith Mohler leads the film with an excellent performance as Callee. A sanctimonious narcissistic whose lack of social skills and ongoing crusade to enforce cultural appropriation, initially makes her character feel distant and unlikeable; but as the film unfolds that slowly begin to change. As her facade and smoke screen begins to fade along with the wigs and shielding attitude, behind it all you start to see the cracks of insecurity and you begin to sympathise for her character. Admittedly you still feel as though she is a narcissistic at heart, but thanks to the character development and a memorable performance from Meredith Mohler, she somehow manages to get the audience on her side despite her many shortfalls.
Sharing the lead is Jesse Dalton who displays an array of emotions as the insecure and conflicted best friend Ian Falwell, who continues to support Callee despite his better judgement. Jesse is an interesting character who despite his strong personality and openness is still extremely vulnerable. It is, however, his exuberant display of emotions when reacting to the events that makes his performance work well, both with the horror and comedy elements of the film
Callee may seem like an eccentric character, but Keni Bounds takes her comical performance to another level with a scene-stealing performance as her mother Beverly Bishop; a former B-movie scream queen who still has aspirations of being famous. Keni’s performance is full of energy and her eccentric personality works perfectly against the more rigged Callee, which constantly had me laughing.
Amanda Weiss is a veteran of the horror genre delivering a weighted performance to the film as the headmistress Gloria Fielding, as well as showcasing her timing for comedy. Amanda shows her experience in one of the more sombre moments in the film when trying to connect with Callee following her supposed attack, by describing her own events. It is an emotional speech which instantly captures the audience’s attention, unfortunately, the same cannot be said for Callee. Seeming to know it all Callee remains detached from the conversation and rudely seems more concerned about what’s on her phone than the guidance that Gloria is trying to give.
The are several kills in the film, but those looking for the next hack and slash horror will not find a huge amount of on-screen gore here. There are a few effective moments, but a majority of the film is about building up the characters and suspense. As the story unfolds you will find yourself spending more time trying to work out who is the killer, than anticipating the next kill.
Chris Moore continues to develop as a filmmaker, once again taking the structure of a traditional slasher and turning it into something slightly different. Driven by an intelligent script and strong performances from the talented cast, Triggered is a dark horror comedy, which tries to challenge the audience and is worth checking out during its festival run.