Triangle is one of those movies that went without notice. I don’t remember any noise about the film in 2009 when it released. It’s not rated very well on IMDB, not sure why. The film has a well-executed time-loops and a solid reasoning behind the nature of the loops. This was another one of my catch up movies. I figured there was a lot going on in the film with the repeating time loops. Lots of people I talked with about the movie were lost and confused. This will help in understanding the film better.
Plot Explanation: The Time-Loops
The movie opens with Jess comforting her autistic son Tommy who’s suffering from a nightmare. She’s dressed up and prepping to go someplace. She cleans paint of the floor, messes her dress up. She hears a door bell and no one is there. She’s packs a bag, hops into her car and drives out to the harbour.
Here’s what I’m going to do to help understand the movie’s convoluted plot:
The group of people who go sailing are – Jess (main focus person), Victor (single chap), Downey and Sally (married couple), Greg (boat owner), Heather (extra, you can ignore her, the director does too). I’m going to separate them in to groups to help understand what the blazes is going on.
I will number them group-3. Jess-3, Victor-3, Downey-3, Sally-3 and Greg-3 … ok fine Heather-3. They go sailing and get hit by a storm. Greg-3 also receives a distress signal from a woman in panic. He loses the signal, the boat upturns and they are stranded. Heather-3 gets flushed into the ocean and gets out of the plot after that (see I told you, she’s dead, she ain’t coming back, let’s move along).
On the upturned boat, group-3 sits helplessly waiting for someone to come rescue them. And out comes a huge liner to their rescue. They see someone on the deck and they board the liner. On the liner, there seems to be nobody and the group starts searching. Jess-3 feels like she’s having a déjà vu and that she knows this liner. They continue further. Jess-3 finds her own keys lying around but no one knows how it got there, they suspect Heather is already on the liner (yeah sure).
They reach the dining area, still unable to find anyone on-board. Jess-3 sees someone running away and informs the group. Victor-3 runs after that someone. Greg-3 and Jess-3 go around further looking for someone from the ship. They ask Downey-3 and Sally-3 to wait in the dining area. Greg-3 and Jess-3 find a room with “Go To Theatre” written on a mirror in blood. Jess-3 freaks out about the blood and wants off the liner but Greg-3 wants to head to the theatre and they separate. Jess-3 goes to the dining area and no one is there, Victor-3 comes all bloodied. Victor-3 attacks Jess-3 but in the process Jess-3 locates a wound to the back of Victor-3’s head and aggravates it, killing him.
Jess-3 hears a gun shot, she follows it to the theatre. Greg-3 is lying dead. Downey-3 and Sally-3 are blaming Jess-3 for this. Greg-3, before he dies, tells them that Sally-? shot him. From above a masked person shoots both Downey-3 and Sally-3 and kills them. Jess-3 escapes and is chased by the masked person. Jess-3 over powers the masked person and masked person mumbles something before falling off the liner. Jess-3 is the lone survivor. She then hears a group shouting from over board. Jess-3 sees the entire group waving from an upturned boat, even herself (but no Heather, duh!). Jess-3 is the ‘someone’ group-4 now sees on the liner. Which also means group-3 saw Jess-2 as the ‘someone’ on the liner.
I will now refer to this as group-4 (Jess-4, Victor-4, Downey-4, Sally-4 and Greg-4). Jess-3 runs around in disbelief following group-4. In the process Jess-3 drops her keys, which Jess-4 picks up saying it was hers (in the same way Jess-3 does). Jess-3 gets spotted by Jess-4 and makes a run for it. Now Jess-4 informs group-4 about the ‘someone’ running away. Victor-4 runs after Jess-3.
Victor-4 catches up to Jess-3. Jess-3 tries to explain what has just happened. Obviously, Victor-4 doesn’t understand and thinks she is crazy. By mistake Jess-3 moves Victor-4 back on to a sharp protrusion impaling him on the head. Jess-3 freaks and runs for it. She finds a room with shotguns and notes on the floor saying “kill everyone who boards”, the notes are all written by previous versions of Jess. Jess-3’s locket gets pulled off her neck to only fall into a bunch of replicas; lockets that belonged to the previous versions of Jess. She picks up a gun and heads to save the people from group-4. First, Jess-3 intercepts Jess-4 and Victor-4’s meeting. This helps stop Jess-4 from aggravating Victor-4’s wound and killing him. Jess-3 doesn’t kill Jess-4, Jess-4 runs away.
Jess-3 runs to the theatre and saves Downey-4 and Sally-4. Greg-4 is dead however. The Jess-3 shoots the masked shooter on top and causes a flesh would on the head. Downey-4, Sally-4 and Jess-3 make a run for it. Jess-3 momentarily separates from the two of them.
At this time they reveal that the masked shooter with the flesh wound is Jess, I have identified her to be Jess-2. Who is Jess-1 then? Jess-1 is the masked attacker who guns down Downey-3 and Sally-3, Jess-1 doesn’t have a flesh wound on her head and never takes the mask off. Jess-3 makes Jess-1 fall off the liner. So at any given time, there would three Jess(s).
Jess-2 tricks Downey-4 and Sally-4 to follow her into the room with the bloody mirror. Jess-2 kills Downey-4 with a knife and fatally wounds Sally-4. Sally-4 makes a run for it. Jess-3 spots Sally-4 and runs behind her to help. Sally-4 finds a control room and tries to send out a distress signal. This signal is the same as what Greg-3 is shown receive in the start of the movie. Sally-4’s signal is now being received by Greg-5 who’s not yet hit the storm. Sally-4 run to the upper levels to a location which has a whole bunch of dead Sally’s. Just like the many lockets and notes, Sally has died over and over. Jess-3 sees Jess-2 being hacked to death by Jess-4. Jess-2 is the shooter with a flesh wound to the head and Jess-4 is the one who Jess-3 spares while trying to save Victor-4. The fight between Jess-2 and Jess-4 (the even ones) is different from the fight between Jess-1 and Jess-3 (the odd ones). This is because of the interference that Jess-3 introduced.
Sall-4 dies of bleeding, Jess-3 and Jess-4 are alive, watching a new group of themselves come to the liner. This is group-5. Group-5 sees Jess-4 as the ‘someone’ on-board. Jess-3 realizes that this is going to keep happening until everyone – including herself is killed and no one enters the liner. She is desperate to go back to her son. Jess-3 now goes ahead and cleans up all the bodies and starts doing all the actions Jess-1 did. She removes Downey-4’s body and writes “Go To Theatre” with his blood on the mirror. Jess-3 sees Jess-4 wounding Victor-5 to the head. The conversation that Victor-5 and Jess-4 have is also very different from the conversation Victor-4 has with Jess-3. Again, this is because of the interference Jess-3 has done.
Jess-3 goes to the dining hall and tells Downey-5 and Sally-5 to go to the theatre. Jess-3 gets a gun, puts on a mask and follows Greg-5 into the theatre and shoots him. Greg-5 recognizes that the shooter is Jess. Down below, we can see Downey-5 and Sally-5 blaming Jess-5 for the death of Greg-5. Jess-3 shoots and kills Downey-5 and Sally-5 (exactly in the way Jess-1 kills Downey-3 and Sally-3). Jess-5 escapes and Jess-3 (the masked person) chases. The same fight ensues between Jess-3 and Jess-5 (that we earlier see between Jess-1 and Jess-3). Jess-5 gets the upper hand, Jess-3 mumbles to kill everyone and falls off the liner.
This marks the end of the liner episode. What I would like to point out here is that there are two loops of events:
1) Where Jess never sees the face of a past Jess. In this example, the odd Jess. While the odd Jess sees a future Jess, the past Jess she meets and fights has a mask on and never gets to see the past Jess’ face. The odd Jess also doesn’t get hacked to death; she simply falls off the liner. The odd Jess also never gets intercepted by a past Jeff and ends up fighting a Victor in the dining area, killing him.
2) Where Jess meets a past Jess. In this example the even Jess. The even Jess gets intercepted by her past self at the dining area and is spared. This Jess however goes on to get a flesh wound to her head when she’s shooting. The even Jess also gets hacked to death and thrown overboard.
After The Liner
The story continues following Jess-3 who falls off the liner alive. She gets washed on to shore. She heads back home. From outside she sees the events of the morning in her house. This means that she has returned at an earlier point in time. Jess-3 sees her morning self shout and abuse her son. Tommy sees Jess-3 outside the window and causes the paint to spill. The Jess inside the home further shouts at Tommy and starts cleaning up and messes her dress up (exactly like in the first scene). Jess-3 from outside rings the bell and hides. Jess from inside hears the door bell, but no one is there. Jess-3 sneaks up behind Jess in the house and bludgeons her with a hammer.
Tommy sees this. Jess-3 holds Tommy and tells him that he just had a nightmare (so that’s the nightmare in the first scene). She puts the dead Jess into a bag and packs it with other clothes (so there was a dead body in the bag in the first scene). Loads the car and drives off. On the way she hits a seagull. She stops to dispose of the dead seagull and notices a whole bunch of dead seagulls. This only means that other Jess’ (the odd ones who survive on the liner) have been around doing the same actions. The seagulls are shown to be somehow connected to the time vortex on the liner and hence like everything on the liner, their versions from other timelines keeps accumulating (eg: multiple lockets, multiple notes, multiple dead Sally, etc).
Jess-3 gets back in the car and starts driving. Distracted by Tommy, she hits a truck and the car tumbles. This kills Tommy and the body of dead Jess is lying out. Jess-3 is however not killed and is standing watching this. A taxi guy offers a ride and she heads to the harbour. When she enters the harbour she meets a Victor, a Greg, a Downey, a Sally and Heather. They are just preparing for the sail. The loop has started all over and they head out. This explains why Jess-3 is having a déjà vu in the liner, the shock of her son dying makes her thing that her son is in school and she’s come for a sailing trip without him. Her guilt is not that she’s left him in school, but that she resulted in his death.
Ending Explained: Reason Behind The Loops
Try and recollect the conversation about Aeolus, the name of the liner. Sisyphus, the son of Aeolus breaks a promise he makes to death. As a result he is punished by being compelled to roll an immense boulder up a hill, only to watch it roll back down, and to repeat this action forever. Ring a bell?
The analogy to this is Jess making a promise to the cab driver that she would return. She says “I promise”. Jess breaks her promise too. She goes to the harbour but decides to go on the sail trip. This analogy also means that Jess is dead and her soul is refusing to cross over in the ferry (taxi). When in the movie does she really die then?
My theory is that the real version of the accident is never shown in the movie. Jess, as a character, is shown to be annoyed and irritated with her autistic son. She perhaps drove her car rashly and in her distraction, crashed the car. The accident scene shows a dead Jess and a dead Tommy. This is something that possibly happened. The Jess in the shorts standing by and seeing this, is dead and is taken away by the Taxi driver who is calm and composed even after seeing the accident and the two Jess(s). No one else is seeing the two of them, they are not part of the living. The time on her watch matches the clock on the ship, perhaps it’s the time she died. 8:17AM.
The events of the loop are all analogous to the act of “rolling an immense boulder up a hill“. So, we can safely assume that events of the loop are all post death. What we need to locate is the start point of the loop. The harbour seems the logical point where the loop starts as that is right after her breaking her promise to the taxi man (death).