×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Trigger Man

Hunters become the hunted in Ti West's smartly compact and radical survival thriller, "Trigger Man." West's pic grafts anti-narrative cinema conventions -- sustained real-time shooting and disdain for overt plot -- onto an action-adventure template.

With:
With: Reggie Cunningham, Ray Sullivan, Sean Reid, Larry Fessenden, Heather Robb, James Felix McKenney.

Hunters become the hunted in Ti West’s smartly compact and radical survival thriller, “Trigger Man.” As distinct from his smart horror debut, “The Roost,” as it surely is from his in-the-works studio debut, “Cabin Fever 2,” West’s pic grafts anti-narrative cinema conventions — sustained real-time shooting and disdain for overt plot — onto an action-adventure template. Results are so pared to the bone that the swift ending comes as a shock, and then, in retrospect, as just the right exit. Fine fest tour should broaden to non-U.S. shores, while crafty distribs could find B.O. targets in specialized hunts and focused vid volleys.

After a portentous opening shot of the New York skyline, Gotham buddies Reggie (Reggie Cunningham), Ray (Ray Sullivan) and Sean (Sean Reid) pile into an SUV for a hunting trip. Right off the bat, the film is invested less in Reggie’s apparent problems with a needy (off-screen) g.f. than the sheer ecstasy of leaving the city behind for the sun-dappled splendors and vast silences of the forest.

West pointedly observes that the guys aren’t exactly Thoreaus when it comes to venturing into nature; when they’re not teasing Reggie about being “pussy-whipped,” they’re itching to break out the brews. Sean has organized the day, and firmly instructs them on the proper use of their bolt-action rifles, complete with scopes. This alone conveys the queasy sense that Reggie and Ray are going out in the woods with no real idea what they’re doing.

Trigger Man” risks everything in the first 30 minutes — including losing impatient auds altogether — by rightly insisting on plunging the viewer into the experience of hunting, which is 99% walking and waiting and keeping absolutely silent, and perhaps 1% action. Idle minds may conclude they’re watching some “Blair Witch”-y redo or a “Dudes Do Deliverance” revision, but that would miss the pic’s marvelous sense of time and space, seemingly empty of purpose yet steadily building tension.

Reggie gets some newbie luck by eyeing a deer, but becomes distracted, and the rest of the day (marked by time markings in a variation on the device in “The Shining”) appears to be an elaborate excuse for drinking. Out of nowhere, as Sean is preparing to urinate at the edge of a cliff, he’s killed by a bullet. Reggie and Ray dash away, but soon, at a creek bed, Ray is gunned down by a single head shot.

Reggie realizes he’s being targeted by a sharpshooter, likely stationed at a nearby abandoned factory. Though his decision to investigate further may seem like a death wish, it also feels like the act of a city guy desperate to avenge his friends’ murders.

After a remarkable sequence involving a lone female jogger, Reggie stalks the cavernous factory site, suggesting that “Trigger Man” could easily spin off a vidgame. Contrast between the spooky industrial setting and the sylvan woods surrounding it is stunning, though not as stunning as the ending, which comes upon Reggie and auds with the rude closure life sometimes provides.

Nonpro thesps work naturally in front of West’s camera, with none of them straining for theatrics. In what’s starting to become a ghoulish inside joke for West’s films, his mentor and key backer — American indie horror specialist Larry Fessenden — is killed off, just as he was in a bit part in “The Roost.”

West, operating with a tiny crew, covers Gotham, the woods and the factory with a sometimes insanely frenetic camera that goes overboard on herky-jerky moves and stuttering zooms. Pic doesn’t need such touches, but the long patches of silence tend to balance it out. Composer Jeff Grace comes up with one of the eeriest scores in recent genre pics.

Trigger Man

Production: A Glass Eye Pix presentation in association with ECR Productions. (International sales: RingTheJing Entertainment, New York.) Produced by Peter Phok. Executive producer, Larry Fessenden. Directed, written, edited by Ti West.

Crew: Camera (color, DV), West; music, Jeff Grace; sound (stereo), Peter Phok; sound designer, Graham Reznick; re-recording mixer, Bruce Buchanan; visual effects supervisor, Glenn McQuaid; makeup effects, Daniel J. Mazikowski; associate producers, T.J. Healy II, Chris Tigani. Reviewed at Los Angeles Film Festival (Dark Wave), June 27, 2007. (Also in SXSW, Philadelphia film festivals.) Running time: 80 MIN.

With: With: Reggie Cunningham, Ray Sullivan, Sean Reid, Larry Fessenden, Heather Robb, James Felix McKenney.

More Film

  • American Made

    'American Made' Plane Crash Lawsuits End in Settlement

    The producers of the Tom Cruise film “American Made” have settled all litigation surrounding a 2015 plane crash in Colombia that killed two pilots. The settlement resolves pending suits in both California and Georgia. A notice of settlement was filed in Santa Monica Superior Court on Monday. Terms of the settlement were not disclosed. The [...]

  • Avengers: Endgame

    Film Review: 'Avengers: Endgame'

    SPOILER ALERT: The following review contains mild spoilers for “Avengers: Endgame.” The culmination of 10 years and more than twice as many movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, “Avengers: Endgame” promises closure where its predecessor, “Avengers: Infinity War,” sowed chaos. That film — which revealed that the cookie-cutter uniformity of all those MCU movies had [...]

  • Avengers: Endgame

    'Avengers: Endgame': Why a $300 Million Opening Could Be Impossible

    “Avengers: Endgame” is preparing for a staggering debut between $250 million and $268 million in North America alone. Unprecedented anticipation surrounding the Marvel juggernaut has some particularly optimistic box office watchers tossing around even higher numbers, estimating the superhero tentpole could clear nearly $300 million in ticket sales in its first three days. If any film [...]

  • Leonardo Dicaprio Nightmare Alley

    Leonardo DiCaprio in Talks to Star in Guillermo del Toro's 'Nightmare Alley' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Leonardo DiCaprio is in negotiations to star in Fox Searchlight’s “Nightmare Alley,” Guillermo del Toro’s follow-up to his Oscar-winning film “The Shape of Water.” Del Toro will direct the pic and co-wrote the script with Kim Morgan. “Nightmare Alley” is being produced and financed by del Toro and J. Miles Dale with TSG Entertainment, with [...]

  • Ben Affleck

    Ben Affleck to Star in and Direct World War II Caper 'Ghost Army'

    Ben Affleck will star in and direct the Universal Pictures caper “Ghost Army,” based on the book “The Ghost Army of World War II,” written by Rick Beyer and Elizabeth Sayles, as well as the documentary “Ghost Army.” It’s unclear when the movie will go into production as it’s still in development and Affleck is [...]

  • Britney Spears Musical

    Britney Spears Musical 'Once Upon a One More Time's' Film Rights Land at Sony

    Sony Pictures has won screen rights to the Broadway-bound “Once Upon a One More Time,” a fairy tale featuring classic songs from Britney Spears, sources have confirmed to Variety. John Davis’ Davis Entertainment will produce the film along with Spears and her manager, Larry Rudolph. Neither a writer nor a director has yet been attached. [...]

  • ‘Girl on the Train’ India Remake

    ‘Girl on the Train’ Indian Remake Set at Reliance Entertainment (EXCLUSIVE)

    India’s Reliance Entertainment will produce the official Indian remake of Tate Taylor’s 2016 film “The Girl on the Train.” Ribhu Dasgupta, who is currently completing Netflix series “Bard Of Blood,” being produced by Shah Rukh Khan’s Red Chillies Entertainment, will direct. Parineeti Chopra (“Kesari”) will star. Production will commence at U.K. locations from mid-July. Based [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content