It seems as though horror fans have given up on monsters. Whether it?s due to the fact that they?ve been disappointed time and again by poorly crafted CGI creature effects, no longer finding them convincing enough to be frightening, or because they?ve simply grown tired of suspending their disbelief. Having taken a chance on one too many far fetched plots, people are turning more and more to the gritty, realistic side of horror for their scares. Maybe it?s just a sign of the times, the current collective subconscious deciding that human beings themselves are the monsters, far more terrifying than any fictional beast created in a Hollywood studio.
Whatever the reason, films with more believable, down to earth, people-are-evil plotlines like Hostel or The Devil?s Rejects have become genre favorites while even the most finely crafted monster movies, like The Descent for example, disappear from theaters barely a week after opening. The fans have spoken, and what they?ve demanded is for horror films to once again come infused with some degree of real life terror. Well, those searching for yet another dose of that scary-because-it-could-really-happen (or in this case, did happen) brand of chills should look no further than Trigger Man, the newest offering from genre director Ti West.
When three young New Yorkers gear up and head out of the city on all day hunting trip, they?re expecting little more than an opportunity to spend some time with old friends and have a little fun. What they get instead is an absolute nightmare, when one by one they begin to get picked off by a seemingly invisible sniper, hidden so well they have no idea where the shots are coming from. Soon, only one is left standing, and despite the shock of the situation and his inexperience with a weapon, he must attempt to keep his cool and make his way out of the park in order to survive.
Bearing a classic ?inspired by true events? tagline, you can?t get much more realistic than Trigger Man. All of the actors put in very convincing performances, delivering totally plausible dialogue and coming off as characters which definitely feel like real people as opposed to brainless stereotypical horror victims. The shaky, handheld camera work lends a fair amount of realism, making it feel as if you?re right there in the woods with them, but it does get a little excessive at times, especially all the back and forth zooming.
Stylistically, the film is similar in some ways to director West?s earlier feature The Roost, but whereas that was an updating of a classic late night spook show, Trigger Man is more along the lines of a modern day Deliverance. Both films feature slow, drawn out sequences with little or no dialogue, and while some might find them overly long or boring, West effectively uses them to control the pace and lull the viewer into a false sense of calm.
This works particularly well in Trigger Man, where the moments of quiet are ripped apart by the sound of the killer?s rifle, creating a heightened level of suspense and making the unexpected attacks all the more startling. Some of the more hardcore fans might find it a little light on the gore and bloodshed in comparison with several of the other grisly trap-them-and-kill-them style films of the day, but it does have it?s gruesome moments, and even if they are fewer in number than those in Trigger Man?s genre brethren, that doesn?t keep the film from playing out as an intense exercise in brutal survival horror that will potentially keep you on the edge of your seat.
Trigger Man is playing as part of the '07 Philadelphia Film Festival.