Matthew and his family are living in a safe, suburban enviroment with their baby when the power goes out for days in the entire town. At first it's just a matter of waiting until it comes back on, but eventually people realize they have to do what they can to survive and anarchy breaks loose. Matthew, his family and his best friend decide to take to the road.
David Koepp is mostly known for writing a number of successful films, with titles such as "Jurassic Park", "Mission: Impossible", "Snake Eyes" and "Panic Room" (to name a few) under his belt. My personal favorite out of the films he has written/worked on is the Kevin Bacon film "Stir of Echoes" which I still today think is an exciting ghost story. Knowing what he has written helps you understand what kind of film his directorial debut feature "The Trigger Effect" is. Or does it? It's rather weird, actually!
"The Trigger Effects" takes a standard blackout and pushes it into a story of how far man is willing to go. At first it's hard to know where the film wants to go as we follow Matthew and his family just doing their business. When days go by and the blackout is still there, people start to steal and do whatever they can. Matthew and his family is joined by his friend, and one night their house is being robbed and it ends in a murder. This slowly starts chaos within their small suburban community and eventually they decide they have to get out of there.
What's weird about the film is the atmosphere rather than the plot. We always know it's a matter of a blackout, and the story moves in a pretty good pace, but still it feels odd when people start going crazy. What saves it from becoming a film of mindless idiots killing people is the fact that almost every character seems realistic and one you can relate to. Even the sleazy character played by Michael Rooker (seeing him here was a wonderful surprise) carries some human in him. It's a very modern film, without anything supernatural, yet it still feels like a post-apocalyptic virus flick. I think that's a fun touch to what essentially is just a thriller/drama.
It doesn't really manage to tie it all together, though, as I think the ending comes off as a last resort thing where they didn't know what to do. Or rather, maybe they hoped it would confuse people with an anti-climax. It might have in 1996, but it doesn't in 2012. There are also some very typical, dumb decisions made. But do you expect much else?
It's a mainstream movie from a very mainstream writer/director. It just happens to be entertaining enough to keep me hooked. And a few familiar faces doing pretty good roles definitely helped. "The Trigger Effect" is much more entertaining than I had expected it to be, but it's also a lot more down to earth than you'd be lead to believe. It all boils down to a theme we've seen plenty before - what is man capable of? It doesn't bother me very much that parts of it are dumb and that I've seen similar films before. As long as I'm entertained. And I was.