Trigger Man
press | official site

"Ti West's smartly compact and radical survival thriller"
Robert Koehler - VARIETY

"packing a punch so hard I almost fell out of my seat"
Dick Hollywood - FILMJERK

"One of the best examples of five-dollars-and-a-dream genre filmmaking I've seen,
Trigger Man manages to keep the viewer on the edge of his seat with an intentional lack
of stylization, relying purely on timing and events to create mood."

Michael Lerman - INDIEWIRE

"...Old Joy reconceived as a horror movie is the simplest way to describe Trigger Man,
the stunning sophomore feature by 26-year-old writer-director Ti West...
an uncommonly naturalistic terror tale..."

Scott Foundas - LA WEEKLY

"Every aspect of this movie has been wonderfully choreographed to create
a film that goes well beyond mere entertainment,
simultaneously shocking and challenging the audience."


"an intense exercise in brutal survival horror
that will potentially keep you on the edge of your seat."

by FEARnet - FEARnet


VARIETY - Robert Koehler, June 30, 07

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. link



FILMJERK - Dick Hollywood 6/29/07

Ti West's sophomore effort "Trigger Man" packs a punch, and a bullet or two as well...

I just returned from a screening of Ti West’s (Director of the Roost and the upcoming Cabin Fever 2) latest psychological horror fright-fest, Trigger Man. An exercise in low budget filmmaking at its finest. With a gritty feel here and a grimy taste there, Ti West has concocted an ultra realistic mind f#*k that will bounce around in your brain during and after the film is over. Slow on the uptake but packing a punch so hard I almost fell out of my seat with the firing of each shot.

The plot is simple. Three friends from New York City go hunting for deer in some undisclosed forested area. One is experienced, the other two just want to drink beer and shoot something. If not a deer, then a squirrel or a tree stump or an empty bottle, or whatever, they just want to shoot something. The majority of the camera work is all hand held with long takes creating a slow eeriness with little action to be found for the first half of the film. Reminiscent of the films Open Water and Wolf Creek, capturing the mundane of real life, as these three friends wander around the forest only to realize that hunting is actually a quite boring and tedious leisure activity. When an unknown assailant shoots and kills one of the friends randomly, the two remaining must try to register what just happened, along with figuring out what the hell they’re going to do to get away and survive. This is where the film ramps up, turns a corner and puts the viewer on edge. Who’s next? What the hell is going on? What would I do in this situation and how are these guys going to get out of this FUBAR?

Though this type film is not for everyone, the slow build will turn off many viewers, but it should appeal to people who like their films with a dark sense of realism. A Cinema Verite/Dogma feel runs through its hand held HD Video veins, as Ti crafts a film filled with terror and suspense in which we are forced to take an active participation in and react to as well, due to the documentary feel the video images give us. I am looking forward to what Mr. West next has in store for us (Cabin Fever 2 as stated above), in which he is currently working on.

Keep up the good work Ti. Dick Hollywood has his eye on you! link



INDIEWIRE - Michael Lerman 6/26/07

Ti West's sophomore effort, a low-budget tension-fest entitled "Trigger Man" successfully flips genre on its head in the simplest way possible. West made a splash on the underground horror scene in 2005 with his first film, "The Roost," a throwback to '70s B-horror that satisfies on the visceral levels. Changing gears here, West creates something close to a mumblecore set-up and then, shockingly and without mercy, knocks it down with sudden bursts of violence. One insightful viewer described it to me as "[Kelly Reichardt's] 'Old Joy'...with guns." This description is not too far off from the truth. One of the best examples of five-dollars-and-a-dream genre filmmaking I've seen perhaps, ever, "Trigger Man" manages to keep the viewer on the edge of his seat with an intentional lack of stylization, relying purely on timing and events to create mood. It shows just how talented West's direction really is, and provides a great send-off to this chapter of his indie career as he heads into the final stages of editing the latest installment of the Lionsgate produced franchise "Cabin Fever," which he wrote himself. link



LA WEEKLY - Scott Foundas 6/21/07

...Old Joy reconceived as a horror movie is the simplest way to describe Trigger Man, the stunning sophomore feature by 26-year-old writer-director Ti West, whose Fessenden-produced vampire-bat epic The Roost earned a brief local release back in 2005. ... West fashions an uncommonly naturalistic terror tale in which the emphasis on landscape and the gradual passage of time have less to do with cut-and-run splatter-cinema hallmarks like Last House on the Left and I Spit on Your Grave than with the work of experimental filmmakers like Michael Snow and Chantal Akerman.... link



BLOODY-DISGUSTING - Johnny 99 4/24/07

Ti West’s second feature after the entertaining and dark natured “The Roost” is an unexpected curve. A curve that is both fresh and absorbing. The film is about movement that seems hopeless, fore long and increasingly urgent. It’s about loyalty and strength.

The plot concerns three friends who go hunting for the weekend before one gets married. They drink beer, shoot at trees and stroll endlessly through dense wooded forest till they come to a cliff that overlooks an abandoned industrial site.That’s when things turn bad. They find themselves on the other side of the gun and must fend for their lives. There is a breathtaking scene involving a jogger and the massive looming factory in the background that will have you on the edge of your seat.

Everything that occurs in this movie serves a purpose; Ti West focuses on quality rather than quantity. The plot, which seems simple enough, gradually takes on an eerily disturbing nature. The dialogue is sparse, but West uses it as strength, allowing events and cinematography to speak volumes about the characters. The violence, though disturbing, also acts as an integral piece of the film. The scenery is spectacular and Trigger Man makes some of the best use of foreshadowing and sound design I've seen.

Many will compare this to Gus Van Sants Trilogy: Gerry, Elephant and Last Days. It seems that the finer subtleties of filmmaking presented in Trigger Man are lost on today's generation of moviegoers whose cinematic palates have been cloyed with multi-million-dollar special effects, unimaginative dialogue, mindless violence and saccharine plots. Every aspect of this movie has been wonderfully choreographed to create a film that goes well beyond mere entertainment, simultaneously shocking and challenging the audience.

I would love to see what he could do with a bigger budget. I feel that Ti West is here to stay. link



FEARnet by FEARnet 4/15/07

It seems as though horror fans have given up on monsters. Whether it’s due to the fact that they’ve been disappointed time and again by poorly crafted CGI creature effects, no longer finding them convincing enough to be frightening, or because they’ve simply grown tired of suspending their disbelief. Having taken a chance on one too many far fetched plots, people are turning more and more to the gritty, realistic side of horror for their scares. Maybe it’s just a sign of the times, the current collective subconscious deciding that human beings themselves are the monsters, far more terrifying than any fictional beast created in a Hollywood studio.

Whatever the reason, films with more believable, down to earth, people-are-evil plotlines like Hostel or The Devil’s Rejects have become genre favorites while even the most finely crafted monster movies, like The Descent for example, disappear from theaters barely a week after opening. The fans have spoken, and what they’ve demanded is for horror films to once again come infused with some degree of real life terror. Well, those searching for yet another dose of that scary-because-it-could-really-happen (or in this case, did happen) brand of chills should look no further than Trigger Man, the newest offering from genre director Ti West.

When three young New Yorkers gear up and head out of the city on all day hunting trip, they’re expecting little more than an opportunity to spend some time with old friends and have a little fun. What they get instead is an absolute nightmare, when one by one they begin to get picked off by a seemingly invisible sniper, hidden so well they have no idea where the shots are coming from. Soon, only one is left standing, and despite the shock of the situation and his inexperience with a weapon, he must attempt to keep his cool and make his way out of the park in order to survive.
Bearing a classic “inspired by true events” tagline, you can’t get much more realistic than Trigger Man. All of the actors put in very convincing performances, delivering totally plausible dialogue and coming off as characters which definitely feel like real people as opposed to brainless stereotypical horror victims. The shaky, handheld camera work lends a fair amount of realism, making it feel as if you’re right there in the woods with them, but it does get a little excessive at times, especially all the back and forth zooming.

Stylistically, the film is similar in some ways to director West’s earlier feature The Roost, but whereas that was an updating of a classic late night spook show, Trigger Man is more along the lines of a modern day Deliverance. Both films feature slow, drawn out sequences with little or no dialogue, and while some might find them overly long or boring, West effectively uses them to control the pace and lull the viewer into a false sense of calm.

This works particularly well in Trigger Man, where the moments of quiet are ripped apart by the sound of the killer’s rifle, creating a heightened level of suspense and making the unexpected attacks all the more startling. Some of the more hardcore fans might find it a little light on the gore and bloodshed in comparison with several of the other grisly trap-them-and-kill-them style films of the day, but it does have it’s gruesome moments, and even if they are fewer in number than those in Trigger Man’s genre brethren, that doesn’t keep the film from playing out as an intense exercise in brutal survival horror that will potentially keep you on the edge of your seat.

Trigger Man is playing as part of the '07 Philadelphia Film Festival. link



official site