The Trigger Effect (1996)

R  |   |  Drama, Thriller  |  30 August 1996 (USA)
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Ratings: 5.6/10 from 4,704 users  
Reviews: 58 user | 23 critic

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 rifle 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 <>

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 »




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?


Another source of inspiration for this movie came from the first episode of the TV series, Connections (1978), hosted by a co-writer of this movie, James Burke. The episode is called Connections: The Trigger Effect (1978). See more »


As evidenced in the movie after the electrical system breakdown, all sources of power were shut down and unresponsive, including the radio vehicles yet one police radio can be heard with the command central dispatching orders from time to time. 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 The Twilight Zone (1959) 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 »

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User Reviews

A Great Start that Slowly Goes Nowhere
27 July 2004 | by (Boston, MA) – See all my reviews

The opening sequence of how other people effect the flow of our natural day opens up the idea to the audience that like the Trigger Effect, other people during the course of our "normal" days can end up making us go crazy and even doing some drastic stuff. The Trigger Effect opens up "Touch of Evil" style with a wonderful sequence of no name actors who end up playing a huge role on the story line of what the Trigger Effect is. Almost by mistake, we are brought into the lives of the main characters, and from there the story begins. The movie holds some amazing moments and some excellent scenes with the 3 leads. Still, the movie falls short with an ending, nobody wanted to see. A thriller that builds and builds and builds and goes nowhere. The struggle between the characters grow and then end up going off on a detour and nothing else. Sad, the movie could have been a timeless story how the slightest things in our day could end up killing ourselves if not killing others. The story was terrific and could have been an excellent movie. But overall, the movie is worth watching just for the moments it has.

18 of 27 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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