Dani Lennon in 'The Shasta Triangle'

‘The Shasta Triangle’ Goes for a Phantasmagoric Walk in the Woods

[The Shasta Triangle] is filled with audacious, original ideas worth exploring and experiencing, even if they don’t always hit the mark like you’d hope

Out Tuesday, December 3, The Shasta Triangle is a daring low-budget horror flick that’s absolutely worth the time it takes to get to the bottom of the mystery.

Twenty-four years after his unexplained disappearance, Paula reluctantly chases her father’s ghost to Shasta, California. She’s been called in by her adopted big sister, Sam, now the local sheriff, to investigate a series of sound phenomena in the remote corner of California. Once on the scene, Paula and Sam are swiftly joined by two former friends and an enterprising fame-junkie hoping to exploit the cause of the disturbances. 

As the quintet ventures into the towering woods of Shasta, things quickly go awry, and the woods fill up with visions of … well, I don’t want to spoil that. Needless to say, the best part of The Shasta Triangle is its willingness to dive into the densest parts of American conspiracy theory with unbridled glee. Ley lines, ancient science, back-alley DARPA experiments. It’s all there.

Written and directed by Barry W. Levy (The 40,000), The Shasta Triangle plays out much like a Luc Besson film. That is, it’s filled with audacious, original ideas worth exploring and experiencing, even if they don’t always hit the mark like you’d hope.

The film’s script is focused mostly on exposition, switching back and forth between tales of the women’s childhood together and bald explanations of the “science” behind what’s happening around them. Things might get a little tedious if not for the film’s immersive cinematography and some worthwhile on-screen performances, chief among them Ayanna Berkshire’s local cop, Sam. 

Berkshire delivers a stirring but grounded performance that reinforces the terror growing around the cast. Her stoic, level-headed approach to the material plays wonderfully against the rest of the cast’s willingness to descend into panic. She capably delivers the script’s straightforward explanations with a conversational approach that makes the dialogue feel natural.

Director of photography Richard Galli makes the most of the forest environment, as well, transforming the woods surrounding the women into an alien landscape that lies somewhere between wonder and horror. Subtle camera movements and transition-heavy editing create a disorienting effect that underscores the dream-like elements of the film. As a result, The Shasta Triangle looks and feels like a movie with a much bigger budget.

Perhaps the only reason to hesitate recommending The Shasta Triangle is the film’s fleet-footed 74-minute runtime (that includes the credits). The brief length leaves viewers wondering what could have developed had the movie given itself just a little more time to breathe and develop its story. That, combined with the film’s ending (which you won’t see coming, and I won’t spoil), help The Shasta Triangle play out like the pilot episode of a TV series that I would definitely watch more of.

Hopefully, there’s a Netflix Syfy exec perusing this week’s new releases, because I could stand to see a bit more of the world Levy and his cast have built. Until then, however, The Shasta Triangle serves as an intriguing entry point into a brand of sci-fi too infrequently explored.