Chris Moore’s newest project, Triggered, is a riveting take on call-out culture and the slasher film
I must admit that within the first ten to fifteen minutes of Triggered, the latest film from writer-director-producer Chris Moore (Blessed Are The Children, The American Dream), I was, well, a little triggered.
The female, or, uh, femme-presenting lead, Callee Bishop (Meredith Mohler; Hello, The Farmer) is a pretty outlandish caricature of what some far-right Republicans like to call an “SJW (Social Justice Warrior)” or a “Snowflake”. If you asked any of the alt-right proud boys who cruise around on 4chan, they may tell you that I too could very easily be described as an SJW or a Snowflake. I don’t think it’s a bad thing, but I won’t extrapolate too much further on that at this time, because this isn’t Facebook or Twitter (which is the place to go to complain about politics, if you’ve been living under a rock for the past 10 years).
Amanda Wyss as Gloria Fielding in Triggered
I wasn’t sure what direction the film was taking with this fast and loose criticism of socially conscious teenagers, but then I realized that it’s all in good fun and more a lampooning of the stereotype than an actual takedown of liberal politics. There admittedly ARE people who go a little bit off the deep end with their activism to a point where it’s counter-productive and that’s exactly the place on the political spectrum where Callee lives.
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One day, during a (totally deserved) stay in detention, while Callee is doing her usual policing of her fellow students’ every move, Callee comes upon the richest most popular girl in school, Lisa (Caitlyn Driscoll; Murderous Affairs, Fire Summer). Lisa is wearing earrings she purchased at a Native American Reservation in New Mexico and Callee is yelling at her about cultural appropriation. Something terrible happens and Callee calls in her long-suffering gay best friend, Ian (Jesse Dalton in a very impressive debut performance) to help her clean up a big mess.
Meanwhile, there’s a killer on the loose right around the anniversary of a series of brutal murders which occurred at a school dance 30 years prior. People are dropping off like flies and Ian and Callee are almost amongst the victims. Little does Callee or Ian know that their victimhood would bring them a new-found popularity and a bullseye on their backs.
Callee’s mother, Beverly (Keni Bounds, previously in Blessed Are The Children) is no stranger to the spotlight, having been a B-Movie actress for years and also almost a victim of the original massacre. So was the principal of the high school, Gloria Fielding (Amanda Wyss; Fast Times At Ridgemont High, A Nightmare on Elm Street ). Gloria attempts to confide in Callee, but finds that despite her victimhood, the thing Callee cares about the most is attention. Ian, who is truly disturbed by all the chaos that’s happening around him, finds momentary solace in his relationship with Zac (Sam Furman; Bayou Ghost Story, Don’t Kill It), a semi-closeted football star.
In the end, everyone gets their just deserts in Triggered, which by the time you get there, you are extremely glad they do. Triggered is a low-budget Jawbreaker (set in Mississippi instead of Los Angeles) meets I Know What You Did Last Summer if it were directed by John Waters and Herschell Gordon Lewis. It calls back to a lot of the great micro-budget slasher films of the ’80s, with its over the top gore and zippy humor. There are also a lot of great shout-outs to the great horror masters, including calling the college Callee and Ian applied for Craven University and later showing a diploma from Cronenberg University in Principal Fielding’s house.
I hope you check out Triggered if you love a good horror-black-comedy like Scream, it’s a truly entertaining new entry in the slasher sub-genre of horror. This film is set to be released in 2019, but be on the look-out as it is sure to hit the festival circuit!
Love politically driven horror? Looking forward to Triggered? Let the other horror heads know what you think in the comment section below.