Triangle Movie Plot Explained: The True Meaning of the Film

By Russ Milheim Posted:
Melissa George, Triangle

For those who have watched the 2009 horror film Triangle, the story's events might still need some explaining.

The movie follows Melissa Gorge’s Jess as she gets caught in a nightmarish time loop after boarding an abandoned vessel at sea, with seemingly no way to escape or save the lives of her friends.

It would take a long time to break down the story completely—so let’s attempt to do it as concisely and simply as possible.

Jess is Stuck in the Afterlife

Melissa Gorge as Jess in Triangle

It’s probably best to start with the big swing: nearly all of the movie takes place in some sort of afterlife, or at least that’s the common interpretation of it all.

The only real scenes audiences witness are Jess’ abusive freakout moments with her son and the fatal car accident that kills them both. After that, she is sent to an afterlife for what seems to be punishment, perhaps for how she treated her son or for causing the accident in the first place.

There are a couple of key Easter eggs that point to this conclusion.

One is the painting found in the ship towards the beginning of the film depicting Sisyphus, a figure in Greek mythology who was tasked with rolling a boulder eternally uphill in the underworld. Its discovery is pointed and symbolic of the struggle Jess finds herself going through.

Then, there’s the time Jess finds the ship’s clocks frozen, which match her watch: 8:17 am. This could be her time of death, that fateful morning in the car.

It’s also worth noting that in the crash, the Jess who supposedly got her head bashed in and stuffed into a bag, is seen lying dead outside of the crashed car (notably not in a bag), and the other Jess seems untouched

Melissa Gorge as Jess in Triangle

Another big hint is the Taxi driver that Jess is met with a few yards away from the crash, who seems oddly chill for what just happened in front of him. This figure represents death, maybe even Charon (the ferryman from the River Styx in Greek myth’s version of hell) himself.

He calmly offers her a ride—one that might lead to whatever comes next. Instead, Jess wants to return to the harbor; she wrongly thinks she can fix everything.

As for why Sally still ends up trapped in the loop at the end of the film, with no memory, there are a couple of reasons. One is perhaps she’s just so caught up in her grief and denial that she doesn't remember what just happened to her, leaving her a victim of the vicious cycle.

Some fans have pointed out how they think the fateful moment occurs when she falls asleep on the boat, an action that causes her to forget everything she was hoping to use in order to break the loop.

But Why Does Any of It Even Matter?

Masked Shooter from Triangle

So, why is there a time loop in play?

It stems from the true meaning of the film, which lies in Jess’ inability to process the death of her son and her role in the tragic event. She’s now being forced to relive a nightmare as a form of punishment.

Her predicament becomes quite ironic, seeing as the one thing she claimed to want before her supposed death was a day off from her son. Next thing Jess knows, she’s trapped in a time loop, one she wants nothing but to escape from and see her son again.

As for Jess’ friends, some might be unable to track what’s happening with her and the group fully, but there are a couple of key points to keep in mind.

For one, these reoccurring loops are happening back-to-back and not erasing or resetting what just happened; they all continue to exist. This is why there are multiple Jess’ (like one who has seemingly never experienced a loop and another who has been through a few) active on the ship at once.

Many might be quick to point out how there are some hiccups in the logic behind the time loop.

For example, if Sally’s bodies were stacking up like that due to the repeating loops overlapping, why did no one else’s? Surely, that theater would have been overflowing with corpses at this point.

Most importantly, however, is that, in theory, none of it is real, so it doesn’t really matter what’s happening to all her friends.

The trick is, given the entire time loop is happening in an afterlife of sorts, the logic doesn't matter. It’s akin to a dream—everything just is.

What matters is that Jess is stuck in an eternal loop of what is basically damnation that she can't find her way out of due to her own inability to process what she’s done or what happened to her son because of it.

Or that’s at least one way to look at it.

- About The Author: Russ Milheim
Russ Milheim is the Industry Relations Coordinator at The Direct. On top of utilizing his expertise on the many corners of today’s entertainment to cover the latest news and theories, he establishes and maintains communication and relations between the outlet and the many studio and talent representatives.