Film Scouts Reviews

"The Trigger Effect"

by Leslie Rigoulot

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I wondered if director/writer David Koepp had been watching the 'Twilight Zone' when he was inspired to do "Trigger Effect" and boy, was I right. "My uncle, Claude Akins, starred in a 'Twilight Zone' episode entitled 'The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street,'" recalls Koepp. "I always loved that episode which deals with the 'red scare' paranoia of the 1950s. It seemed to me that's a theme worth exploring again in the 1990s. The same kind of paranoia appears to exist today but, rather than being directed outward and overseas at some foreign enemy, it's being directed at our own neighbors and our own government." So the man who worked on the screenplays for "Jurassic Park" and "Mission: Impossible" wrote his own interpretation of what would happen if the lights went out in suburbia.

Opening with a four-minute-long steadicam shot of a typical night at the movies, we have a condensed version of the constant stream of petty annoyances that fill modern life. Kyle MacLachlan is our everyman, trying to deal with the changing definition of masculinity while keeping his marriage to Elisabeth Shue, our everywoman, intact. But when the lights go out she is the one to invite his best friend, construction worker Dermot Mulroney, to stay with them. The tensions among the three are amplified by the tensions in the neighborhood as everyone goes just a little crazy without CNN to keep them informed. "Trigger Effect" is never predictable and the performances of three strong leads gives it resonance. And if you think they over-react to the loss of electricity, you should have seen me the day America Online was down!

And now for a little gossip: Dermot Mulroney also stars in Robert Altman's "Kansas City" this summer and has been heating up the screen this year with "How To Make An American Quilt" and "Copycat". But did you know he has a band with his brother Kieran called "The Sweet and Low Orchestra"? He is the 'cello player! Look for their first album on Interscope Records.

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