Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Snowflake's Just Whacked: Triggered (2019)

Triggered (2019)
Rating: ***
Starring: Meredith Mohler, Jesse Dalton, Sam Furman

Social Justice Warriors. The easily-offended culture of modern times. A horror story of its own if I say so myself, so why not mold a slasher movie out of it?

Annoyingly and aggressively woke teen Callee Bishop (Meredith Mohler) finds offense at almost everything, from assuming an unborn baby's gender to using chopsticks as hair accessories. She's desperately trying to get everybody to side with what she sees as reasonable views of fair and appropriation, though it often (and unsurprisingly) leads to people just rolling their eyes out, or giving her dumbfounded looks. Callee, more or less, just wants some attention and the opportunity for one comes crashing in soon enough, in the worst way possible. 

After accidentally braining a girl dead in the school's bathroom during detention, Callee and her gay bestfriend Ian (Jesse Dalton) devise a plan to pin the manslaughter to the Jackson Ripper, a slasher currently hacking up babysitting teens around town. The two also pose as victims of the staged attack to cover their tracks, as well as milk out some of that sweet small town fame as survivors, which of course starts to get into Callee's already big head and transforming herself into a local celebrity. It isn't long before the Jackson Ripper got wind of this so-called attack, though, thus Callee's plan backfiring horribly as the slasher now sets their eyes on finishing them.

Not gonna lie, this one's a tough cookie to sit through. Not because it's thought-provokingly deep or ultra-violent, but rather it gets across its point of satirizing easily triggered snowflakes all too well, so much so that it's first half hour centering on Callee felt like an actual hour. Or three. Mohler really nailed her part as one of them irritating irritable creatures bound by hate and aggression for things like non-Asians eating sushi or public schools doing prayers because, God forbid, said prayers are gonna offend some people. I commend her for the effective acting, but the matter that she's the protagonist and we have to listen to her character's exaggerated self-righteous bullshit really tests one's patience and self-control to not press the remote's fast-forward button. Or just stop the movie all in all.

Through some higher power's good grace however, once Callee commits her act of accidental murder and ropes her only friend into it, Triggered becomes more tolerable of a watch and actually spins an interesting turn in direction. Apart from the usual breakdowns of internet fame and its downsides, the film also found a way to evolve the Ian character into the second main lead, focusing greatly on his attempts to swoon the closeted jock he's crushing on, all the while taking in the brunt of the guilt and anxiety from the crime they just committed. It's mostly teen drama, coming-of-age comedy and a small slice of thriller of the blackmail variety, with the slasher elements getting juggled in and out until the last act where it finally gets to be played straight. For a movie with a running time of almost two hours, this again may test a lot of viewers but I personally don't mind sitting through it as the slowly devolving friendship between Callee and Ian, and the latter's growing independence from his "friend" make for an intriguing watch.

This being said, the slasher bits are in par with your usual low-budget slashening affairs; the kills are bloody and fair in body count, though the effects are limited to splashy red make-up work and stylized editing. The killer's masked and cloaked get-up is heavily inspired by the same slasher wardrobe worn by the Red Queen killer from the 1972 giallo The Red Queen Kills Seven Times, only with a blonde wig. There is a decent reveal that ties most of the events nicely (read, most), forwarding to a conclusion that's altogether satisfying as it is insane with its abundance of unlocked door cliches, someone going Mama Voorhees and A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)‘s Amanda Wyss as one of the final girls.

Director Christopher Wesley Moore is no stranger to films with touchy subjects, with his previous 2016 slasher offering Blessed Are The Children tackling abortion and his other 2019 horror entry A Stranger Among The Living centering on the psychological and supernatural aftermath of a school shooting. It seems fitting on his end that Triggered (2019) satirically and comically covers the attention-seeking hypocritical madness of modern Social Justice and I'm glad I gave it a shot. Albeit partially unbearable and overly long, it still offers topical curiosities and a bloody good enough payoff for the trouble, poking fun at misguided people whose aggressive goals to better the world push the cause further back than forward whenever it's not playing around the classic slasher scenario. 

If you see yourself as a composed and stoical horror fan with enough time for plot and character driven stories, you may want to keep give this a look.

1 female seen with throat cut
1 female knifed to death
1 female brained against an edge
1 male knifed through the jaw
1 male hacked to death with an axe
1 female gets chopsticks stabbed into her ears
1 male bludgeoned to death with a frying pan
1 male hacked to death with a hatchet
1 female found dead with a throat cut
1 female brained to death with a hammer
1 female gutted with a knife, stabbed in the back
Total: 11

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