Triggered quickly establishes a premise that seems like it will be good twisted fun. Instead of playing up the possibilities of that premise, the picture opts to go down an unpleasantly gory road. That's a shame, because there's a cool idea for a B-movie in here. Taking the Saw approach and focusing on nastiness was not the best method of nurturing it. Despite a few witty lines of dialogue, the film's substance-free violence wore me down long before the plot resolved itself.

A bunch of high school friends stage a reunion in the middle of the woods. During the night, they're gassed by a disgruntled former teacher. The group awakens to find that each of them has a vest strapped to their chest with a countdown timer right in the center. It's part of a sick game the teacher forces them to play as an act of revenge. Everyone has a different amount of time on their clock. Once time runs out, they will explode. The brainy Rian (Reine Swart) deduces that they can “steal” another player's time by killing them.

Obviously, that concept is preposterous, but so what? Lots of fun B-movies are. For a few minutes, Triggered goes in the right direction, as the characters devise different strategies to either win or avoid having to murder their friends. Potential lies in seeing how various group members form alliances or, even better, work collaboratively to find a way for mass survival. A little bit of that occurs. Mostly, though, the movie has everyone generally accepting the need to slaughter, then running through the woods for over an hour brutally attacking each other with hatchets, knives, and other weapons.

Maybe that would have worked better had more time been spent developing the characters. They get suited up about fifteen minutes into the picture, meaning that we don't have an opportunity to digest the relationships between them. (A couple cast members are the same physical “type,” which makes it hard to tell them apart once the action starts.) Triggered attempts to rectify this by awkwardly forcing in expository dialogue to fill in the gaps, to no real effect. Knowing the heroes before their ordeal would have gone a long way toward helping us care about them during the ordeal.

Hearing the characters reference the Saw-like status of their predicament, or having one of them say he feels like John Wick after killing someone is clever. Such pop culture references provide Triggered with a slightly hip sense of humor. I wish there'd been more of that – plus more character development – and less of the incessant bloodletting. The balance is way off, which makes the film feel more nasty than thrilling.

out of four

Triggered is unrated, but contains bloody violence and strong language. The running time is 1 hour and 30 minutes.