Trigger Man (2007) - Ti West

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Three friends go off on a hunting weekend (One of them knows what he's doing, the other two are just there to drink beer and shoot some animals with their rifles). Of course they soon find out they're not alone in the woods and find themselves being hunted....

The above description is pretty much the entirety of the plot. This is a film that eschews narrative, dialogue, characterisation to a patience-trying end. Ti West has pared down the film to the bare minimum here. It's barely worth talking about the plot - and for those familiar with West's work his style of languid pacing and his 70s/80s exploitation influence is evident in this, his third film. Minimalistly shot on handheld cameras we follow these three characters who apart from a few exchanges barely talk to one another as they traipse around in the woods; at first in expectancy and then in gradually increasing boredom as nothing happens. Mirroring the audience experience we like the trio are subjected to large parts of nothing happening; they resort to shooting at tin cans to relieve their boredom, we have no such luxury. We know barely more about these characters at the end of the film as we do in the beginning. There is no back-story to any of them; the scant one that is provided is so obscure and captured from overheard conversations as to leave it up to us to invent one. But it's clear West isn't really interested in them as people.

When the film does eventually spring into action, there is no real rhymn or reason to the action. West is simply showing the fact that the strong hunt the weak, and as the weak the motivations of the strong remain a mystery to those hunted, the protagonists and by extension us the viewer. It does have some scenes that do linger though, the scene with the female runner is quite artfully done but much a real hunt they're pretty elusive and it's a question whether it was worth watching the rest for these few moments.

This is obviously the work of someone still honing their craft and trying something different, however lacking the polish and cohesiveness of his later films like House of the Devil or The Innkeepers. For me it was an interesting experiment as to how far you can trim something down but as a film it was lacking. It's turns out those elements of characterisation and plot are pretty important after all.

4/10