Christopher Smith knows about progress. His debut feature, Creep, was a cute calling card but the follow-up, Severance, mixed some genius gags into the horror genre to really up the ante. Now with his third flick, Triangle, he's moved on yet again. Sure, it's another horror but this time it's all in the mood rather than the slashing.
Triangle tells the tale of Jess (Melissa George), a stressed single-mum who's off for a day out with her new boyfriend and his mates on his yacht. When they hit an electric storm, tidal waves get the better of them, but they soon jump on board a passing ocean liner in the hope of sailing back to civilisation.
Woops. That'll be a mistake then.
On board, things are eerily quiet apart from a shadowy figure. And Jess can't work out why she keeps getting a feeling of deja vu...
Imagine Donnie Darko meets The Shining meets...er...Titanic and you'll get the idea. Smith shoots the endless corridors of the giant boat with glaring bluntness rather than spooky shadows, frequently playing with mirrors to hint that all is not simple. But it's all refreshingly light on OTT atmos. The fact that this giant hunk of metal feels so normal - apart from its lack of crew - is what makes it so chilling when the refugees start going screwy.
Melissa George is also awesome, playing peril without too many histrionics and some considerable depth at the same time as looking hot in denim shorts. As she learns more about her fate on board the 'ghost ship' - and beyond - you see how the horror comes from within her, her emotions, rather than from a simple killer on the loose. What goes on in people's heads is far more scary than a bloke in a leather mask running around with a chainsaw.
Attempts to convince us that the actors really are in the middle of the sea are occasionally a little too green screen clumsy whilst I'm sure the time-loop scenario, like so many before it, will be successfully picked to pieces by some punter with too much time on their hands. I just prefer to let it joyfully play with my brain.
Ultimately, though, this is a strong thriller from an ever-maturing British writer/director. He knows his horror heritage yet infuses his work with emotional personality. It's a cool mix.
Out 16th October.