61 user 23 critic

The Trigger Effect (1996)

1:58 | Trailer

Watch Now

From $2.99 (SD) on Amazon Video

How tenuous is man's hold on civilization when survival becomes an issue? When the lights go out and stay out for several days, suburbanites Matthew and Annie learn the hard way that man is... See full summary »



(television series Connections),



Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Crime | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

A recovering gambling addict attempts to reconcile with his family and friends but finds trouble and temptation when caught between feelings for his ex-wife and her dangerous hoodlum boyfriend.

Director: Steven Soderbergh
Stars: Peter Gallagher, Elisabeth Shue, Alison Elliott
Palmetto (1998)
Crime | Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6/10 X  

A recently released ex-con gets involved in a fake kidnapping scheme that turns very real.

Director: Volker Schlöndorff
Stars: Woody Harrelson, Elisabeth Shue, Gina Gershon
Don McKay (2009)
Drama | Mystery | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  

Don McKay, a high school janitor who leaves his hometown after a tragedy, returns 25 years later to rekindle a romance with his old flame, who is dying, but this homecoming brings McKay more than he bargained for.

Director: Jake Goldberger
Stars: Thomas Haden Church, Elisabeth Shue, Melissa Leo
Redfern Now: Promise Me (TV Movie 2015)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

Two young women are raped on their way home. The story follows the lives of both women and the different ways they deal with the crime.

Director: Rachel Perkins
Stars: Deborah Mailman, Wayne Blair, Rarriwuy Hick
Fairlane Road (2016)
Drama | Mystery | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 4.4/10 X  

A troubled young man falls prey to sinister forces after he arrives in the desert to care for his dying uncle, while becoming ensnared in a decades old mystery.

Director: Gualtiero Negrini
Stars: Anthony Sherritt, Gualtiero Negrini, Lucy Kazarian
Drama | Mystery | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.6/10 X  

A psychiatrist (Sciorra) is helping a neurotic art gallery owner who has a submissive and very satisfying sexual relationship with her new lover, a domineering man with a violent streak. An... See full summary »

Director: Christopher Crowe
Stars: Annabella Sciorra, Jamey Sheridan, Alan Alda
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  

Martha Horgan, a naive woman with an intellectual impairment who lives with her aunt Frances in a small town, is known for always telling the truth. She works at a dry cleaner, where her ... See full summary »

Director: Stephen Gyllenhaal
Stars: Debra Winger, Barbara Hershey, Gabriel Byrne
Jennifer 8 (1992)
Crime | Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

A big-city cop from L.A. moves to a small-town police force and immediately finds himself investigating a murder. Using theories rejected by his colleagues, the cop, John Berlin, meets a ... See full summary »

Director: Bruce Robinson
Stars: Andy Garcia, Uma Thurman, Lance Henriksen
Thinner (1996)
Fantasy | Horror
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.7/10 X  

An obese lawyer is cursed by a gypsy to lose weight...and lose weight...and lose weight...

Director: Tom Holland
Stars: Joe Mantegna, Robert John Burke, Lucinda Jenney
Submerged (2016)
Action | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 4/10 X  

A young woman and her friends, who've been targeted by kidnappers, must do everything they can to survive after their limo is forced off the road and plunged into a canal.

Director: Steven C. Miller
Stars: Jonathan Bennett, Talulah Riley, Rosa Salazar
Ambushed (2013)
Action | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 3.9/10 X  

In the frenetic underbelly of Los Angeles, Agent Maxwell closes in on an international cocaine smuggling operation run by criminal mastermind Vincent Camastra. When Agent Beverly Royce goes... See full summary »

Director: Giorgio Serafini
Stars: Dolph Lundgren, Vinnie Jones, Randy Couture
All Falls Down (Video 2004)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 3.2/10 X  
Director: David Koepp
Stars: Carolyn Ratteray, Dequina Moore, Keisha Trim


Cast overview, first billed only:
Tori Kristiansen ...
Tyra Kristiansen ...
Edhem Barker ...
Trendy German Guy
Tripping Guy
Hand Holding Guy
Monica Torres ...
Hand Holding Girl
Double Date Guy
Kerri Vickers ...
Double Date Girl


How tenuous is man's hold on civilization when survival becomes an issue? When the lights go out and stay out for several days, suburbanites Matthew and Annie learn the hard way that man is "by nature" a predatory creature. Matthew's long-time friend, Joe, happens by on the second day and a rivalry between the two friends simmers as Annie cares for her sick baby. When rumors of looting spread through the neighborhood, the two men buy a shotgun for protection but Annie throws it in the pool. Later, that same night, Joe hears a prowler downstairs and awakens Matthew. They chase the stranger from the house and out into the street where a neighbor shoots him to death. No longer safe in their own home, they decide to drive to Annie's parents some 500 miles away. Before they reach their destination, more trouble comes their way when they stop to siphon gas from an abandoned car and discover the driver in the back seat... Is this what is meant by "man's inhumanity to man?" Written by Mark Fleetwood <mfleetwo@mail.coin.missouri.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


When Nothing Works, Anything Goes.


Drama | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language and some violence | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

30 August 1996 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Der große Stromausfall - Eine Stadt im Ausnahmezustand  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$8,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$1,887,791 (USA) (30 August 1996)


$3,594,848 (USA) (27 September 1996)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The story is inspired by the classic The Twilight Zone (1959) episode "The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street," which depicts the denizens of the street slowly becoming crazy after a power failure. In fact, in the film's production notes, Matthew and Annie live on the corner of Maple and Willoughby (another classic TZ episode, "A Stop At Willoughby"), obvious allusions to "The Twilight Zone". See more »


When Matthew opens a cabinet in the kitchens (which is hung backwards - opening the wrong way for a corner cabinet), the top hinge breaks loose and the door almost comes completely off the cabinet. Later, Joe opens the same cabinet. The door does not fall loose from the top as it did for Matthew and he is seen tightening the lower hinge. See more »


[Her husband and Joe are arguing.]
Annie: Boys, if you can't play nice, we're not gonna have any more of these little sleepovers.
See more »


Features Night of the Living Dead (1968) See more »


Composed & Arranged by Greg De Belles (as Greg DeBelles)
Performed & Produced by Greg De Belles (as Greg DeBelles)
Courtesy of Klektik Music
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

Like Everyone Else Has Said
27 September 2005 | by (Isle Of Bute , Scotland) – See all my reviews

A power blackout sweeps across America leading to fear which slowly manifests itself into suspicion : Who will you be able to trust if the lights don't come back on ? That's the idea behind THE TRIGGER EFFECT , a film that on the surface resembles the plot of a novel by John Wyndham or John Christopher but as so very , very many people on this page have screamed from the roof tops this isn't a movie that makes the best of a great idea

The film starts with a sequence that can best be described as " Robert Altman directing the opening shot of SUPERMAN 3 " which is meant as a compliment to Robert Koepp . as the story continues we're quickly introduced to the characters of Matthew and Annie Kay who have a baby . They're visited by their friend Joe and then disaster strikes when the electricity runs out and shows no signs of returning . Get ready for danger

On second thoughts don't get ready for danger . There's something about this scenario that I can't quite pout my finger on . Maybe it's to do with the scenario which is credible but the actions of the characters aren't . Would a long lasting power cut lead to the collapse of civilization as we know it ? Possibly since everyone went on a looting rampage during the New York blackout of the late 1970s and let us not forget the mass panic caused by reports of rapes , murders and other assorted evil after Hurricane Katrina but even so I was not convinced that a power cut would lead to a post apocalypse scenario , it's not like the population has been rendered blind by a meteorite shower ( DAY OF THE TRIFFIDS ) or a worldwide famine is in progress ( THE DEATH OF GRASS ) or a nuclear war has happened ( Insert your most depressing Nuclear holocaust movie here ) . Perhaps I should point out that THE TRIGGER EFFECT probably isn't a post apocalypse type movie so if you're expecting 28 DAYS LATER you're in for a rude awakening , this is more of a slow burning drama where characters seem to be making mountains out of mole hills . By trying to be realistic it ends up being unrealistic . I'm sure most people would nonchantley sit on their behinds in this type of situation rather glad that their quarterly electricity bill would lower than usual . Hell the police are still driving around arresting people during a blackout , do you understand what I'm saying about a lack of credibility ?

I have criticised the characters but to be honest I think the problem lies with Koepp's casting more than his writing . I found Kyle Maclachlan rather wimpy as Matthew . I guess the point was that adversity can lead to wimps turning into violent anti-heroes but I was never convinced by his performance while the rest of the cast failed to make any type of impression on me at all

All in all this is a very disappointing contribution to speculative fiction . Let me just repeat that I doubt if it's intended to be an out and out grim depressing story of man fighting to survive , it's more of a drama about how reliant we are on both electricity and each other but the story never reaches its full potential which is a great shame

11 of 12 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Elisabeth Shue showing her nipple in the DVD version victorids
Did Matt find out Annie's infidelity? remadri2000
The opening sequence scumoftheearth
A very important movie, in light of Katrina... ashestwoashes2000
This films needs to be rediscovered remadri2000
cigarettes calamari-fritti
Discuss The Trigger Effect (1996) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: