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The Trigger Effect (1996)

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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 »



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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 »


References Clockers (1995) See more »


Blood, Guts & Firetrucks
Written by Wesley Willis, Dave Nooks, Pat Barnard, Brandon Murphy (as Brendan Murphy) & Dale Meiners
Performed by The Wesley Willis Fiasco (as Wesley Willis Fiasco)
Courtesy of Urban Legends Records
See more »

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User Reviews

Stop ruining good ideas!!
10 September 1999 | by (Cork, Ireland) – See all my reviews

Our society is so dependent on electricity so that when there is a blackout we despair. We find it hard to understand how people survived without the light switch, the TV, the refrigerator. The Trigger Effect is about such an occurence, but whereas our electricity usually comes back in a matter of hours, this movie's characters have to survive in the black for days. It is an interesting premise but it's horribly handled.

The characters we are shown are boring and two dimensional. An uneventful love triangle begins between the three leads which leads to nowhere. There are some interesting parts to the movie but it's let down by it's small budget. This movie demanded some cutting edge movie making, it fails to deliver. This could and should have been a much more (dare I say) violent picture. It's theme was that of man's devolution back into nature after it loses its use of technology. So we expect some nasty events to occur. It never happens.

A movie like this should have left the moviegoer with questions. How would you react in such a situation? Instead it only leaves us with a gaping mouth and a statement to the filmmakers. Stop ruining good ideas!!

36 of 44 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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