Thursday, November 5, 2020

Triggered Review: An Explosive New Twist on the Battle Royale Genre

Liesl Ahlers	Liesl Ahlers	...	Erin Reine Swart	Reine Swart	...	Rian Sean Cameron Michael	Sean Cameron Michael	...	Peterson Steven John Ward	Steven John Ward	...	Ezra Suraya Rose Santos	Suraya Rose Santos	...	Shea (as Suraya Santos) Craig Urbani	Craig Urbani	...	Miller Kayla Privett	Kayla Privett	...	Cici Michael Lawrence Potter	Michael Lawrence Potter	...	Bobby (as Michael Potter) Russell Crous	Russell Crous	...	Kato Cameron Scott	Cameron Scott	...	PJ (as Cameron R. Scott) Paige Bonnin	Paige Bonnin	...	Amber

Release date: November 6, 2020
Running time: 95 minutes
Starring: Sean Cameron Michael (“Black Sails,” The Mummy), Liesl Ahlers (Friend Request, Daylight), and Reine Swart (The Lullaby, Detour)
Director:  Alastair Orr (House on Willow Street, Indigenous) 
Writer:  David D. Jones

Nine friends, all harboring a dark secret, go camping in the woods. After a wild night of partying, they wake up with custom made bomb vests strapped to their chests, all with varying times on their countdown clocks. They decide to work out how to disarm the bombs or find help - until they discover they can 'take' one another's time by killing each other.  Will they continue to work together, or devolve into an everyone for themselves mentality.

Sean Braam	...	associate producer Daniel Caleb	...	executive producer Chwayita Dlulane	...	producer David D. Jones	...	executive producer Ariye Mahdeb	...	executive producer / producer James Matthes	...	executive producer Alastair Orr	...	executive producer Simon Ratcliffe	...	executive producer Charles Singleton	...	associate producer Ryan Van Den Berg	...	associate producer Richard West	...	executive producer   Directed by  Alastair Orr	Writing Credits (in alphabetical order)   David D. Jones
This film has the loosest of setups to get everyone into this secluded woods.  The group of friends are lightly introduced, some aspects of their past are mentioned, and the various relationships are established.  It feels very much like an 80s or 90s horror film, and I believe that was intentional.  Then, once the big reveal happens things really start to heat up.  The characters are mostly your high school stereotypes: the smart one, the jock, the rocker, the nice one, etc.  However as the film develops the characters exhibit more depth and some surprise you as you learn more about them. 

The film really hits its stride after everyone is trying to survive.  As you can imagine with a film about literal life and death choices, there are some tense situations that these kids go through as they try to decide if someone is a friend or a foe.  And it does lead to some interesting moral questions as characters struggle to figure out what they would do in this situation.  As the counter clicks down, how far would you go for a few extra seconds?  This aspect did give this film a nice twist on the Battle Royale genre; the fact that time could be added or taken made it so that no one could be simply idle.  You had to actively participate if you wanted to survive.  And as you can imagine about a film with bomb vests and killing for time, there are some brutal effects and deaths in this movie.  There are a lot of improvised weapons that these kids end up using to try and both protect and gain time.  

However, this film is not perfect.  It might be intentional, but the writing has some odd, stereotypical lines that didn't resonate with me.  Some of the dialog was not natural and almost felt like a Hollywood take on kids dialog.  And some of the characters start off as stereotypical depictions of high school tropes, leading to some slightly ridiculous interactions at the start.  And the film builds to a big reveal that fell flat for me.  However, one thing that should be noted is the cast diversity and the strong female characters in the film.  In this situation, it was nice to see some of the female characters take a leadership role in the pairs as they tried to survive.  

Triggered has a new twist on the battle royale genre, with an interesting mechanic to ensure that all are actively participating in this tense situation.  

Rent it.

Battle Royale Triggered High School Kids Teens Fighting Battle Royale Bombs
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The Call is available digitally and on demand October 30. 

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Also, make sure to check out our interview with stars of the film Sean Cameron Michael, Liesl Ahlers, and Reine Swart!

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