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The Trigger Effect (1996)

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A blackout leaves those affected to consider what is necessary, what is legal, and what is questionable, in order to survive in a predatory environment.



(television series Connections),





Cast overview, first billed only:
... Matthew
... Annie Kay
... Joe
... Raymond
... Steph
... Gary
Tori Kristiansen ... Sarah
Tyra Kristiansen ... Sarah
... Johnny
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 USA:

$1,887,791, 1 September 1996

Gross USA:

$3,594,848, 29 September 1996
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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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, alluding to another classic The Twilight Zone (1959) episode, "A Stop At Willoughby". See more »


While walking up the driveway at the very end, the Steadicam operator and the boom operator are clearly visible in a reflection from the Volvo's trunk lid. See more »


Joe: The Martians have landed. They want our women.
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
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User Reviews

Reading about Manos reminded me of...
30 January 2001 | by See all my reviews

This morning, as I perused the IMDB bottom 100, I realized that my own personal worst movie ever wasn't there...The Trigger Effect. Now, in retrospect, this was a harsh assessment to make as a teenager, but I still haven't seen anything else -- and this is after YEARS of MST3K -- that has compared to this. A Rod Serling premise delivered with Ed Wood execution -- this was an absolutely pitiful waste of celluloid and a couple of generally decent actors. The Trigger Effect is boring and lame, feeble and implausible, derivative and lousy. It doesn't even qualify in the "so good, it's bad genre"... it's just bad, which is why I rank it below about a hundred other old sci-fi or spy films that at least aspired to a lower standard. The Trigger Effect aims to be a thought-provoking thriller and isn't anything close. Has anyone else noticed that David Koepp (who wrote and directed this, in addition to penning bad scripts for The Lost World and Snake Eyes, to name just two) is the worst well-paid screenwriter in Hollywood?

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