A powerful and tough watch, Tara Westwood’s Triggered is a shattering look at loss and its painful consequences. A film that lingers with you long after the credits have rolled.
Director: Tara Westwood
Cast: Isiah Whitlock Jr., Caitlin Mehner, Robert John Burke, Tara Westwood
A US Senator faces her greatest challenge when a home invasion takes a shocking turn.
Triggered is a film that marks you; it goes to the darkest places it can with its story, but it needs to, not to get the audience to react, but to show how easy this could happen, which is utterly terrifying. Thought-provoking and vital, we have a film that takes the topic of gun violence and forces you to take even closer notice.
When our couple realise this is not just a robbery going wrong but something far, far worse, the film takes on a more ominous tone. The audience is left in the dark, like the couple, as to the true purpose of this break-in. Once their true intention is revealed, you never fully expect that the film would go there. Westwood takes a more sledgehammer approach to her film, never letting anyone breathe as the attack plays out in real-time. With each reveal, we are hit again and again. This is purposely done, she wants us to be broken for that end of film turn, and it works like a horrible charm here.
As Triggered unfolds and our captors release their pent-up agony at the Senator and her husband, you feel like them, numb. They have lost everything in a situation that doesn’t ever need to happen if the right laws were in place. We have seen it so many times and hope it doesn’t happen to the people we know or, even more unthinkable, to ourselves. But when it does, what do you do? How do you cope? Do you just blame the perpetrator, or do you go after the ones who keep allowing each travesty to continue?
There are no standouts between our four characters in Triggered; each brings something crucial to the film, be it Isiah Whitlock Jr’s devastated Ohio. Caitlin Mehners, Virginia, is just taken over with a vengeance. To Robert John Burke’s repentful David to not pushing his wife further and Tara Westwood’s conflicted Senator Heidi, a woman who played politics at a horrendous cost. We need all four characters to get as round a picture as possible, with each devastating you in their own way—incredible performances from all four here.
Some decisions are not made because the politician doesn’t believe in them, but sometimes excuses are all too easy to spew out as Heidi tries to hear. Writer Thomas Dunn has written one hell of a script, and for this to be Tara Westwood’s debut film as a filmmaker, then we can only assume she will have as blossoming a career behind the camera as she does in front of it.
A nightmare that somehow gets worse as the film goes on Triggered goes where some films are afraid to. You won’t long forget this film; most importantly, until effective change happens, you shouldn’t. Fewer films will be released this year that make their point as brutally and efficiently as Tara Westwood does with her short – essential viewing.
The annual Academy Awards® Qualifying HollyShorts Film Festival will celebrate its 18th year August 11-20, 2022. HollyShorts (HSFF) brings together top creators, industry leaders, and companies and has launched many filmmakers into the next stages of their careers. HollyShorts, a regular on the MovieMaker Magazine Top 50 Festivals Worth the Entry Fee list, also engages its community and spotlights short films year-round through monthly screenings, panels, and networking events.
The most recent edition of HollyShorts had six selections nominated for Academy Awards this year with two wins for Aneil Karia and Riz Ahmed’s The Long Goodbye and Ben Proudfoot’s Queen of Basketball.
HollyShorts Film Festival will take place in-person at the TCL Chinese Theaters in Hollywood, and stream via Bitpix TV, with the annual Awards Gala set to take place on August 20, 2022.
For tickets to the festival please click here.
For more of our reviews of the festival, please check out below:
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