The Ending Of Triangle Explained

Jess leaning against ship

In 2009 an underrated time travel movie married an original sci-fi premise to some classic horror movie vibes. Written and directed by Christopher Smith, "Triangle" hasn't quite earned cult classic status, but it's still one of the best sci-fi movies of the late 2000s. Anyone who loves a good mind-bending mystery — and isn't deathly afraid of drowning at sea — should definitely circle back to this semi-forgotten film.

The story follows Jess (Melissa George), a woman who's struggling to function as a single mother and who apparently decides to blow off some steam by taking a day trip on a friend's boat. What starts as a fun adventure quickly gets complicated by a massive storm. Things go from bad to worse when Jess and her friends find themselves saved from the elements by a cruise liner called the Aeolus that hides some dark secrets.

Like all good sci-fi movies, "Triangle" raises plenty of questions and mostly leaves them to plague the minds of viewers after the credits roll. There's plenty of time travel shenanigans and mythological references to dig into, but if you don't have the time to plot out the deeper meaning of "Triangle," we've got a full explanation of the story's ending ready to go.

What you need to remember about the plot of Triangle

"Triangle" begins with a brief, somewhat confusing look at Jess and her son at home and getting ready to head out for the day. The film then leaves them behind and catches up with Greg (Michael Dorman), who owns a small boat named Triangle that he runs with his friend Victor (Liam Hemsworth). Greg is taking a small group of friends, including Jess, out on the water for the day. When Jess shows up, her son isn't with her, and she seems a bit lost and confused. After a few minutes on the boat, Jess's brain fog lifts, and the Triangle takes off.

Not long after the ship departs, a massive storm rolls into the area. Everyone on board hears a distress call from another ship, but before they have time to even think about helping, the Triangle capsizes. Almost everyone manages to clamber onto the upside down ship, holding on for dear life until they see a large cruise ship named the Aeolus approaching.

Once Jess and the others jump from the Triangle to the Aeolus, things go from bad to worse. The ship is mostly deserted, but someone wearing a crude mask starts stalking the Triangle survivors. Eventually the masked stranger starts shooting and killing whoever they can, until Jess is the only one left alive. When she runs out onto the deck of the Aeolus, she sees herself and all the other survivors out on the capsized Triangle, approaching the cruise ship all over again.

What happened at the end of Triangle?

Jess figures out that she's stuck in a time loop, eventually learning that the masked murderer on the Aeolus is really a version of herself who's been through the loop multiple times. This future version of Jess keeps killing Greg and everyone else, with the loop resetting each time they all die. Future Jess even leaves notes for her past self, begging Jess to go along with all the killings.

At first Jess tries to stop her future self. She wants to save everyone, and desperately searches for a way to get them off the ship. After repeating the loop several times, she concludes that the only way to save everyone is to prevent them from boarding the Aeolus in the first place. The only way to do that is to reset the loop, so Jess puts on a mask and starts killing everyone.

While fighting with her past self, Jess gets knocked off the Aeolus and washes up on shore. She immediately heads back home to her son, but when she arrives, she sees herself already in the house. Having been transported back to the very beginning of the day, Jess kills her past self and tries to leave town with her son. The two of them get into a violent car wreck, and Jess's son dies. Overwhelmed with grief, Jess goes to the Triangle, where Greg is waiting to take her and his other friends out on the water. Maybe this time around, she'll be able to save her son.

How does the opening scene tie to the ending?

"Triangle" is a movie all about time loops, so naturally the story ends in the same place it began. The opening sequence introduces Jess and her son, and it also gives us the first glimpse into the movie's big mystery. Before she heads to the harbor to meet up with Greg, Jess hears someone ring her doorbell, but when she steps outside no one is there. The first time through, Jess's confusion is a total mystery. In retrospect, it's a dark foreshadowing of the moment near the end of the film when Jess kills her past self and takes her place.

That doesn't necessarily mean that the sequence at the beginning of "Triangle" is exactly the same as what we see near the end of the movie. There's a chance that Jess is trapped inside a time loop that never changes, but her time on the boat seems to imply that Jess has the power to make small changes to the events of each loop. Each time Jess repeats the loop, she has a chance to adjust how everything turns out. The Jess shown in the very first scene of the movie might have still been killed by her time-looping self, but the details probably play out a bit differently than they do when the movie loops back around by the end.

What does the title really mean?

At first glance, "Triangle" might seem like a strange title for the movie. In the context of boats and the open ocean, the word "triangle" conjures up images of the Bermuda Triangle, which would definitely be a good setting for a story about mysterious, borderline magical happenings at sea. We don't get confirmation of where the movie is actually set, so the only "triangle" we know is in the movie for sure is Greg's boat.

We don't know why Greg decided to name his little ship the Triangle, but whatever his reasons, he chose a thematically important name for the boat. In the movie, Jess is trapped in two different kinds of triangles. Her biggest time loop has three different points of reference: her home, Greg's boat, and the Aeolus. On the cruise ship, Jess is up against a whole other kind of triangle. There are three time-looping versions of herself causing chaos on the Aeolus.

As she makes her way through the time loop, Jess can't help but bounce from point to point. And on the cruise ship, the three versions of her can't help but collide into each other. It's funny, albeit in a dark way, that Jess keeps finding herself aboard the Triangle because she's stuck inside a triangle that she can't escape.

Who is Aeolus?

Greg's ship isn't the only one with a deeply thematic name. After the storm capsizes the Triangle, everyone who survives takes shelter on a cruise ship called the Aeolus. The name catches the attention of the characters, and Sally (Rachael Carpani) mentions that the name comes from Greek mythology. 

She explains that Aeolus was the god of the winds, but she leaves out some important parts of Aeolus's story that might help us better understand Jess's predicament and the cruise ship's role in her story. Aeolus had two important encounters in Greek mythology that might have something to do with "Triangle." In two different stories, Aeolus meets both the Argonauts and Odysseus when they accidentally land on his home island in the sea. Aeolus tries to help the travelers return home by giving them a bag of wind, but both times someone opens the bag early, sending their ship adrift.

In "Triangle," the Aeolus seems to be a horrifying place that traps Jess inside a time loop, eventually leading her to kill her friends. What if the Aeolus isn't actually a bad place at all? If the ship and its namesake really do share some common traits, it's possible that the Aeolus's time loop is actually an attempt to help Jess. After all, if she doesn't get to restart her day, she'll never have an opportunity to try and save her son. Maybe, like the Argonauts and Odysseus, Jess is just using Aeolus's gift in the wrong way.

Is there more than one time loop?

"Triangle" technically isn't a time travel movie , but it comes with all the confusion typical of that sci-fi subgenre. Trying to keep track of Jess's journey on the Aeolus can definitely leave you with a headache, or at least a need for a big sheet of graph paper. Jess's loop restarts every time her friends get killed, but since Jess is stuck moving through the loop, there are always multiple versions of her running around on the ship.

All the confusion on the Aeolus gets ramped up when Jess gets knocked off the ship. When she washes up on shore, Jess has somehow restarted her entire day, going all the way back to before she was ever on the Triangle. Jess has a chance to completely change the events of the day, but as is often the case in stories that play with time, she can't help but recreate everything that happened to her already.

You could imagine that there's two time loops happening in "Triangle." Jess's whole day is the "big" loop, while her experience on the Aeolus is her "small" loop. That might be the easiest way to understand the events of the movie, but it's also a slightly inaccurate way to imagine what's happening. There's really just the big loop, but on the Aeolus the loop curls in on itself, spiraling until it gets flung back out to the beginning of Jess's day all over again.

Is there more than one Jess?

Whenever a story introduces some kind of time travel, it needs to establish the rules. In "Back to the Future," characters who travel to the past can have a dramatic influence on the future. In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, traveling through time creates entirely different realities, meaning that no one can really alter their own timeline's future. In "Triangle," Jess is something of an unwilling time traveler, and she has to follow a set of rules that are wildly inconvenient and deeply distressing.

There are multiple versions of Jess on the Aeolus at any given time, but they aren't creating branch realities or changing the future. Instead, every version of Jess is really the same woman. The Jess that we follow throughout the movie has a linear experience, and even though it's difficult, it's entirely possible to piece together her story from beginning to end. She loops back through time, but she doesn't travel to the past and alter the future in any real way.

Jess's time travel rules are some of the darkest in the genre. There is never any way for Jess to avoid becoming the masked killer on the Aeolus. She's stuck in a time loop that seems to have completely predetermined outcomes. Of course, Jess thinks that she can change things, and she hopes that she'll be able to break the loop in a significant way, but there's no proof of that actually happening in the movie.

Can Jess ever close the loop?

If Jess is stuck looping back through the same events over and over again, is there any real hope for her? The plot of "Triangle" frames Jess's story as a mystery, which leaves us hoping that she'll find some solution to her problem. The end of the movie leaves us with our biggest question unanswered. Jess goes back to the Triangle to repeat her day, presumably hoping that this time around she'll be able to save her son, but we can't know if that's a real possibility.

What's even worse is that the movie hints that there is no hope for Jess. Remember that at the very beginning of the film, Jess is at home with her son when she hears someone ring her doorbell. We know that the person who rings the doorbell is actually Jess herself, sometime after she escapes the Aeolus. Doesn't that mean Jess has lived through her day multiple times? "Triangle" just shows us Jess moving through her day once, but it clearly isn't the first time that she's done it.

It's a strong possibility that Jess can't break the loop. Maybe she's stuck in time as some form of cosmic punishment for mistreating her son. Maybe she's going to be trapped until she figures out the right way to move through the loop on the Aeolus. Either way, it doesn't look like Jess is going to be free anytime soon.

What has Christopher Smith said about the movie?

It would be easy to classify "Triangle" as a sci-fi movie, but that would only give part of the picture. The movie borrows elements from thrillers and horror flicks to ramp up the tension and add emotional weight to the lofty sci-fi concepts. In fact, the writer-director who created the movie has said that his biggest inspiration wasn't a sci-fi story at all.

In an interview with The Fan Carpet , Christopher Smith opened up about how much his love of Stanley Kubrick's "The Shining" went into his conception and creation of "Triangle." Observant audience members will notice that "Triangle" borrows full shots from "The Shining," which Smith described as "very much [a conscious decision], shamelessly." From the bloody writing on the mirror in the Aeolus to the many intertwining hallways of the cruise ship, Smith tried to bring as much of the horror classic into his movie as possible.

Smith found a way to make his horror movie homages and original sci-fi premise bring out the best in each other. Jess is trapped inside her own horror movie, and as Smith tells it, her prospects by the end of the film might not be looking up. In that same interview, Smith said that he wanted the ending to be ambiguous. "She's either going in proactively and it'll all change or she's got no memory and it's all starting again," he explained. For Jess, the horror just keeps going.

Why hasn't there been a sequel?

"Triangle" came out all the way back in 2009, and despite garnering some very positive reviews, the film never managed to earn a sequel. The movie didn't exactly break any records at the box office, but its lackluster earnings also didn't put a damper on writer-director Christopher Smith's career. He's gone on to direct a plethora of movies and TV shows, and with titles like "The Banishing" and "Consecration" under his belt, it's clear that Smith has continued to be more interested than ever in making horror movies.

But the reason "Triangle" never got a sequel doesn't really have anything to do with the numbers. The truth is that even though the movie leaves us with a huge number of unanswered questions, all that mystery is there by design. "Triangle" isn't supposed to be an open-and-shut story. The ending is meant to keep viewers guessing and to cement the horror of Jess's situation into their minds. Why is she in the loop? Will she ever get out? In the end, the answers don't matter as much as the questions, so any sequel would just end up spoiling the fun.

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Triangle (2009) Movie Ending, Explained & Themes Analyzed: What could be the Cause of this Bizarre Time Loop?

Triangle (2009) Movie Ending, Explained & Themes Analyzed: Time loop movies can be fascinating as well as frustrating. It’s fascinating because you are taken on a rollercoaster journey, expecting a resolution to the maddeningly complex plot. And, of course, frustrating when there are no concrete answers but interpretations you prefer after re-watches and while sifting through message boards. Films like Twelve Monkeys (1995), Primer (2004), Timecrimes (2007), Source Code (2011), Looper (2012), Predestination (2014), and Edge of Tomorrow (2014) withholds some thoughtful sci-fi story as it meticulously constructs its time-bending maze. But then there are also films like Groundhog Day (1993) or The Final Girls (2015), which don’t emerge from sci-fi territory, and use the time loop narrative to satirize specific themes.

Christopher Smith’s Triangle is a distinct work among the time loop tales. It doesn’t offer even a flimsy scientific explanation for the protagonist’s cursed circular journey. Moreover, it doesn’t employ satire or humor like Groundhog Day or Palm Springs (2020). Triangle does share some visual similarities with the Spanish thriller, Timecrimes (Christopher Smith denies seeing the film and that he came up with the idea for the film before his 2004 feature film debut, Creep). But Smith’s Triangle is a somber psychological horror/thriller which utilizes the unrelenting time loops to comment on themes like identity, guilt, and parenthood. A bit of Greek mythology is also thrown into the mix to shape up the intriguing interpretations.

Now let’s get into the detailed explanation of the Triangle’s plot and themes.

Triangle (2009) Movie Plot Explained:

A single mother sets sail on a yacht.

Triangle opens with the image of a young mother comforting her frightened little son. She soothes him with tears in her eyes, saying, “You’re just having a bad dream. That’s all, baby.” The single mother, Jess ( Melissa George ), lives in the suburbs of Miami, Florida. On a bright Saturday morning, it looks like she is getting ready to go somewhere, urging her son Tommy (Joshua McIvor), a boy on the autistic spectrum, that it’s getting late. We see Tommy painting a picture and, subsequently, Jess, with an air of frustration, cleaning the spilled paint. The chore leaves a blot on her gown, adding to her exasperation. But she is distracted by someone ringing the bell.

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When Jess goes to the front door, there’s no one. She asks her old lawn-mowing neighbor whether he saw anyone in front of her house. He says no. Jess packs her bags, takes the house keys, and persuades her disturbed son to get into the car. Jess is driving toward Florida Harbor.

Greg (Michael Dorman) is seen preparing his yacht for the trip. He is soon joined by his friends and married couple, Sally (Rachael Carpani) and Downey (Henry Nixon). Sally has brought a friend of hers, Heather (Emma Lung), obviously to hook her up with the still-single Greg. Jess arrives at the dock, accompanied by Greg’s young, muscular deckhand, Victor (Liam Hemsworth). Jess looks depressed and is dressed in shorts and a white t-shirt. When Greg runs to greet her and ask if she is okay, Victor mumbles, “I don’t think so!”

Jess half hugs Greg before getting into the yacht, and Greg introduces her to his friends. They set sail into the ocean with the clear blue skies promising them an enjoyable trip.

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A freak storm claims a casualty.

The very tired Jess sleeps in the cabin. She wakes up from a dream where she is washed up on a shore. Heather offers her a glass of champagne. At the yacht deck, Greg asks Victor why he hinted that Jess doesn’t look good. Victor says that when he encountered her in the harbor, Jess looked disoriented and couldn’t immediately remember where her son, Tommy was. It was expected that Jess would bring Tommy with her. After a few seconds, she told Victor that she left him at school. Victor says it’s Saturday and a holiday. To which Greg replies that Tommy goes to special needs school, which might be open every day. Furthermore, Greg asks Victor to be nice to her.

Downey, through his comments directed at Greg’s friendship with Victor, hints that he is gay. Not that Greg being gay or bi-sexual contributes anything significant to the narrative. Nevertheless, Greg is concerned about Jess, who works as a waitress. It seems Greg struck up a friendship with Jess by frequenting the diner where she works. Sally disapproves of Greg’s closeness with Jess. There’s also something not right with Jess as she doesn’t remember Greg inviting her for the sailing trip the day before.

Jess then shares with Greg the difficulties of bringing up Tommy. She also confesses that she feels guilty every moment she is away from Tommy, which somehow explains Jess’ dispirited presence. Soon, Victor alerts everyone that the wind has completely died down. Downey sees an approaching storm, and dark, intimidating clouds instantaneously replace the clear blue skies. Greg connects with the coast guard on the radio and conveys their predicament.

The communication is cut short as Greg hears a distressed caller on the radio calling for help. The female voice says, “They’re dead. They’re all dead.” Greg asks for their coordinates, but the communication is completely cut off. The storm hits them fiercely. The large waves threaten to overturn the puny-looking yacht. Victor and Greg are on the deck, trying to avert the disaster, whereas the rest are wearing life jackets and pinned to the cabin. The yacht eventually overturns, and Heather tragically drowns in the disaster.

The freak storm passes quickly as rapidly as it hailed out of nowhere. The clear blue skies return once again, and the fatigued five sit upon the overturned boat.

Aeolus Comes to the Rescue

A large cruise ship named Aeolus floats into their view. The survivors quickly board the ship as they see someone looking at them from the deck. As the five moves through the desolate corridors to make their way to the captain’s cabin, it seems like there’s no one on the ship. Jess is increasingly hit with feelings of Deja Vu. “I feel like I know this place. I recognize this corridor,” she somberly states.

Downey diverts their attention to an old framed picture of the ship in the corridor. It says Aeolus was made in 1932 and explains that in Greek mythology, Aeolus is the father of Sisyphus, the man condemned by the Gods to push a rock up a mountain for eternity. Subsequently, they hear the sound of something falling on the ground. Victor and Greg investigate it. Victor comes back with a key. Jess recognizes it as hers, which has the locket picture of her son and matches the one Jess is wearing as a chain.

Jess swears that she had the keys when she boarded the yacht. Sally, who still hopes that Heather is alive, says it might be her friend who ended up with Jess’ keys and dropped them in the corridor. The implausibility of such a scenario is immediately doubted. Next, the five stumbles into a ballroom with a neatly arranged feast. Jess sees someone in the mirror reflection and alerts the others. Victor goes in search of this mysterious stranger. Greg and Jess leave to find the Captain, asking Sally and Downey to wait for Victor.

Jess once again emphasizes her feelings of deja vu. Their attention is drawn to a room in the corridor (room 237 – a reference to Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining). Inside the room’s bathroom mirror, they find a message written in blood, “Go to Theater.”

A Masked Figure’s Killing Spree

Victor is still searching for the ship’s inhabitant and has reached the upper deck. Meanwhile, Greg dismisses the blood message as some prank by the invisible ship’s crew, whereas Jess is thoroughly spooked. As a result, Greg and Jess have a mild altercation. She returns to the ballroom as Greg walks toward the theater. Downey and Sally are on their way to the theater. Now wait! Who told them about the message? Anyway, they find a trail of blood from the upper deck. Finally, the two reach the theater.

Jess is back at the ballroom and is surprised to find all the food moldy. She is also shocked to find a bloodied Victor trying to strangle her. She finds a nasty gash on the back of his head and kills him. Jess runs to the theater, only to find Greg with a large bullet wound. Sally and Downey are hysterical and accuse Jess of killing Greg. It was allegedly the last words of Greg. Downey questions Jess on why she asked them to come to the theater. Jess denies meeting them on her way to the ballroom after being with Greg.

Before finding an answer to this confusion, Sally is gunned down by some masked figure in the upper gallery of the theater. Both Sally and Downey perish due to the bullet wounds. The masked killer chases Jess, who is held at gunpoint on the upper deck. Jess surprisingly overpowers the murderer. Intimidated by the axe in Jess’ hands, the masked figure mutters, “It’s the only way to get home,” and repeats the phrase, “Kill them!” Before Jess takes a swing with her axe, the killer falls off the ship.

Jess doesn’t get much time to reflect on the traumatic incident. She hears voices and witnesses the same stranded five (including another version of her) waving from the overturned yacht. Now it becomes clear that the ‘someone’ the previous group of five saw at the upper deck is another lone survivor. Therefore, is Jess the masked killer? And is the present Jess destined to go on the killing spree like her past self – the one who just fell off the ship?

Who Is the Masked Murderer?

The new group of five board the cruise ship, and everything happens just as it is supposed to happen. The survivor Jess spies on the newly boarded Jess, who is hit with feelings of Deja Vu. The survivor Jess drops the keys and goes to the ballroom. The other Jess catches a glimpse of her in the mirror, and new Victor goes to find the mysterious stranger. She finds Victor and tries to explain to him that there is a copy of herself downstairs and that they’re all going to die. Naturally, Victor doesn’t trust the survivor Jess’ words, and soon she accidentally causes the gash in his head.

At the same time, the survivor Jess unearths more mysteries as she traverses through the seemingly abandoned ship. She goes to room 237 and finds ‘Go to Theater’ written in blood. Who wrote it? She finds the corpse of Downey floating in the ocean, feasted by the seagulls. Who disposed of Downey’s corpse from the theater? Finally, she finds a bunch of notes at the crew cabin, all saying, “If they board, kill them.” The survivor Jess also writes one, confirming that it’s her handwriting in all the crumpled notes.

She finds the crew uniform, which the masked killer was wearing. She also finds a bunch of heart-shaped pendant lockets containing pics of herself and her son. While looking down at the grate, her chain locket is pulled and rests with the pile. The survivor Jess then takes the shotgun (and ammunition) and first encounters Victor in the corridor on her way to the ballroom. She hides in the ballroom as the new Jess encounters the bloodied Victor.

What happens next didn’t happen in the previous loop. The survivor, Jess, encounters her other self, makes her run away in shock, and consequently stops her from accidentally killing Victor. Nevertheless, Victor seems to have lost too much blood. By the time the survivor Jess reaches the theater, the new Greg is already shot and dead. Before the masked killer from above kill new Sally and new Downey, the survivor Jess shoots at the killer, causing a flesh wound in the killer’s head.

The survivor Jess gives the gun to Downey and runs off to get Victor. But the blood trial indicates that he is dragged and thrown overboard. Meanwhile, Downey starts shooting at someone. The masked killer hiding from the couple takes off the mask, and obviously, it is another version of Jess. The blood on her head makes it clear that she was injured by the survivor Jess. Nevertheless, this mean unmasked version of Jess persuades the couple to follow her. She takes them to room 237, uses her knife to slash Downey’s throat, and stabs Sally in the stomach.

The injured Sally slips away, and while running from the murderous Jess, she comes across a radio and asks for help. This message goes straight to the Greg, whose yacht is yet to be overturned by the storm. Sally finally ends up on the uppermost deck, where many versions of Sally are lying lifeless, with seagulls pecking at the corpses. The survivor Jess consoles the dying Sally and witnesses the fight between the new Jess and the unmasked Jess. Contrary to what happened before, the unmasked Jess is bludgeoned to death this time. Then her corpse is thrown off the ship. A few moments later, the new Jess witnesses another group of five, and a new cycle starts.

Everything Is Predestined?

Now the survivor Jess, aka the original Jess, is destined to become the masked killer. It becomes clear that within a time loop, there are three versions of Jess: the one with feelings of deja vu; the survivor; and the killer. However, events in the two time loops we witnessed differed slightly though the outcome was more or less similar. We will come back to that later.

The original Jess is now a silent observer, following the movements of those bound to repeat the events. She goes into full-fledged action mode, completely detaching herself from others. The original Jess goes to room 237 to find the corpse of Downey. She disposes of it and writes with his blood, ‘Go to Theater’ in the bathroom mirror. She also takes away Greg’s corpse in the theater and visits the new set of Downey and Sally to tell them to go to the theater. Now she wears the uniform, a mask with two eye holes, and carries a shotgun.

First, she points her gun at the new Greg, who identifies her by looking at the slippers. Though it doesn’t make any sense to Greg, the original Jess promises to break the loop. Then she shoots him, Sally, and Downey. The new version of Jess escapes, just like what happened during the first time loop. The chaser is now the one who is chased. Before jumping off the liner, our original, masked Jess says to the other one, “It’s the only way to save our son. You have to kill them.”

Journey Back Home and the Harsh Truth

The original Jess is washed up on the shores. It looks like the dream had come true (the dream while napping in the yacht cabin). She finds her way home from the beach. Once again, it’s Saturday, and the original Jess finds the Jess who is yet to board the yacht. The Jess we find inside the home differs from the loving mother image we initially received. She yells at Tommy for leaving the toy yacht ship in the garden. The paint falls down the floor when Tommy looks at our original Jess outside his window and panics. The enraged other Jess beats the boy.

Upon witnessing all this, the original Jess instantly cooks up a plan. She rings the doorbell, and when the other Jess is distracted, she gets a hammer from the backyard, enters the home, and brutally kills the angry Jess. Tommy gets a glimpse of this, and it’s when she consoles her boy by telling him that it’s all a bad dream. Now we understand the fragmented or disjointed nature of the film’s opening scene. The original Jess packs the dress and the corpse in a large bag. She also takes the locket chain from the dead woman (the one that fell down the grate in the ship). She puts the bag in the trunk and gets into the car with Tommy.

The Broken Promises of Jess

While driving towards the harbor, she promises that she won’t hit Tommy hereafter. She assures him that she is a nice mommy. As she calms him, a seagull crashes into the car’s windshield. The original Jess stops the car, takes the dead bird, and goes to throw it on the beach. After throwing it, she sees a pile of seagulls thrown at the exact spot. It reminds us of the images of the pile of crumpled papers, locket chains, and dead Sallys. It becomes clear to Jess that everything is still predestined.

Triangle (2009) Explained

She starts driving, but Tommy screams at the blood on the windshield. While original Jess is momentarily distracted by Tommy’s screams, the car veers a little and gets thrown off after mildly crashing with a large truck.  Everyone rushes to the spot, and we see the dead Jess from the car trunk and Tommy, who is beyond saving. The original Jess looks at them. She doesn’t have a single scratch on her body. No one notices her, except for a man, who simply calls himself a ‘Driver.’ She asks him to take her to the harbor.

The driver asks, “You’ll come back, won’t you?” to which she replies, “Yes, I promise.” She reaches the dock and sees Victor, who asks her about Tommy. She goes to Greg, hugs him, and joins the others in the yacht to set sailing. The loop continues, and the screen cuts to black.

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Triangle (2009) movie ending, explained:, two sequences of events and two different outcomes.

The film’s title, Triangle, initially seems only to indicate the inexplicable mystery at its center, like the Bermuda Triangle. But it also represents the three Jess who is present throughout a single time loop. The past Jess never intercepts the original Jess or stops her from killing Victor. The original Jess doesn’t unmask the individual when she fights the masked killer. The original Jess also doesn’t kill the killer, but she only sees the person falling off the liner.

Going by this logic, when the original Jess boards the cruise ship, there are already two past versions of her on the ship. Hence, the original Jess – the Jess we follow – is the third Jess. This third Jess, aka the original Jess, forces the 1st Jess (the masked killer) to jump into the ocean. The third Jess also intercepts the fourth Jess (the newly boarded one) and stops her from killing the bloodied Victor, saves Sally and Downey at the theatre, takes a shot at the other masked killer, and causes a flesh wound to her. This injured one could be the second Jess, who unmasks herself and later kills Downey in room 237. Subsequently, the third Jess watches the fourth Jess killing the second Jess and throwing her corpse into the sea.

Once that’s done, the fifth Jess, with others stranded in the overturned yacht, boards the liner. The fifth Jess faces the set of events that the third Jess encountered. The third Jess, now the masked killer, kills Greg, Sally, and Downey without any interception, and she eventually jumps from the ship as the fifth Jess swings her axe. It’s still unclear what the exact sequence of events is for the even-numbered Jess. Nevertheless, at the end of the loop, two Jess fight each other. The even-numbered Jess kills the other even-numbered Jess, whereas the odd-numbered Jess washes up ashore.

The Ending is the Beginning

Once the third Jess, or original Jess, reaches home and finds that it’s again Saturday morning, we know it’s not good news. The fragmented nature of the beginning we witnessed was simply designed to hide the darker side of Jess’ burden of single parenthood. Now that the original Jess watches from the other side, she goes to extreme lengths to protect her boy. However, when she throws the dead seagull on the beach, it spells out that it’s too late to change things.

What can be the Reason for the Existence of this Weird Time Loop?

Triangle primarily unfolds in the ocean, and our attention is diverted to what unfolds in the yacht and the abandoned cruise ship. We obsess over the sequence of events, the odd and even Jess, and so on. But the time loop can simply be the bizarre afterlife of Jess, who, unable to accept her son’s death, still looks at ways to change the past. Of course, one can question then who are those five people on the yacht (including Heather) and whether they are just cursed to die again and again? I think, eventually, the individuals from the yacht don’t affect the events of the time loop in any significant manner, and Christopher Smith’s writing curses their characterizations.

Two things don’t make sense in Triangle if we don’t rely on the mythological or otherworldly explanations for Jess getting stuck in the time loop: Why did no one notice the original Jess (she survives the accident without a scratch) apart from the driver? How can the original Jess reach the dock at the final scene with no memory of what unfolded before? The rational explanation for the second question would be that she suffered a concussion from the accident and has forgotten the recent events. We could also conclude that her memory of the recent past is wiped clean when she is on the yacht and takes a nap. But the driver character and the promise she makes to him reminds us of Charon, the ferryman from Greek mythology. He rows the souls of the dead across the river Styx to the Greek underworld, Hades.

Maybe the driver is set to take Jess to her afterlife. His mode of transport is simply a taxi. Or he is the representation of death itself, like the stark black robe figure from Bergman’s The Seventh Seal (1957). Unfortunately, she breaks the promise made to him and gets stuck on a quest to save her boy. Earlier in the narrative, Christopher Smith throws references to Sisyphus – cursed to roll a boulder up a hill for eternity – and his father, Aeolus.

Whether we believe in the Greek mythology interpretation or not, it’s safe to assume that the Jess we follow on-screen is a manifestation of the dead, guilt-ridden single mother. There’s an overturned toy yacht in the kiddie pool in the garden. Her house number in the suburbs is 237. Triangle could simply be about Jess having a meltdown on this particular Saturday when she is supposed to go on a sailing trip with a man she likes. The anxiety over the impending trip and the minor setbacks in the morning aggravate her mood, and to take it upon vulnerable Tommy. The ensuing guilt only doubles up her anxiety and self-hatred. Then a little bit of distraction on the road causes the accident, and they are dead.

Triangle (2009)

Eventually, Triangle offers a thrilling movie experience. Finding a concrete answer to the reason for the time loop or the logic within the time loop can be beyond us, viewers. Perhaps, even Christopher Smith doesn’t have all the answers and is having a laugh as we go crazy to solve the puzzle he has created.

Triangle (2009) Themes & Visual Motifs Explained:

The stress of being a ‘good mother’ to her autistic son has deeply impacted Jess. We don’t know anything about her apart from the fact that she is a single mother, living in a more than decent suburban house, and works as a waitress. Hence the narrow identity of a mother with a special needs kid always makes her question whether she is fulfilling the duties of a mother. At the same time, there’s a frustrated and enraged side to Jess, like any other human being, which seeks a respite from the burden of identity and duties, even if it’s for a day. Such feelings of frustration make Jess abusive, damaging the child she very much wants to protect. Her anger, the self-hatred that comes out of it, and the thought of releasing herself from the responsibility of motherhood naturally evoke feelings of guilt.

During an earlier friendly conversation with Greg, Jess speaks about the guilt she feels whenever she’s not with Tommy. Later, when they both have a heated conversation in the corridors of the liner, Jess speaks about how Tommy is her whole world. That kind of emotional weight-lifting can break any individual.

Sin and Punishment

One interpretation of the maddening time loop is that it is a representation of hell. Jess is being punished for physically abusing her son, Tommy. She is eternally damned to repeat the horrific violence under the pretense of saving her son. In fact, the reference to Sisyphus makes it clear that Jess is doomed to repeat the cycle again and again.

The Seagull

One of the most recurring visual motifs in Triangle is the seagull. It serves as a captivating foreshadowing device. One of the prevalent sailor superstitions is that killing a seagull is a bad omen. In his interviews, writer/director Christopher Smith mentioned that seagulls in the narrative refer to Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s 1798 poem, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. The poem recounts a mariner’s experiences of a curse when he shoots an albatross with his crossbow.

From a visual standpoint, seagulls hint that Jess is still stuck within the time loop, even though she has made it to the land. Inside Jess’ house, there’s a picture of the seagull, and seagulls follow Jess everywhere. In hindsight, we can find dark humor when Greg says the seagull will go hungry by misjudging the yacht as a fishing boat. Little did he know that they are its food, as we later see the corpse of Downey and many lifeless Sallys getting pecked by seagulls.

Perhaps, apart from breaking the promise she made to Death, Jess is condemned to repeat her actions because she was cursed for killing seagulls. Anyway, poor seagulls; one of them, suffered a more grim fate in Robert Eggers’ The Lighthouse (2018).


Mirrors are another recurring visual motif in the narrative. On two occasions, Jess looks at her reflection in the broken mirror, representing her splintered sense of self. It’s as if Jess is fighting with her darkest impulses when she looks at herself in the mirror. Interestingly, the Jess we follow in the narrative lands the blows with a hammer on the abusive Jess’s skull just as she is sitting in front of the mirror.

Final Thoughts:

Triangle was the third feature-film of Christopher Smith, following creature feature horror Creep (2004) and slasher horror/comedy Severance (2006). The creative and captivating horror/thriller Triangle clearly proves to be his best work. Apart from Black Death (2010), there was a considerable dip in the quality of his films in the subsequent years. In Triangle, Christopher Smith is at the peak of his directorial and writing abilities. It’s true that neither the character interactions nor the characterization of the secondary characters is nowhere as fascinating as the central mystery. Almost all the characters in this limited cast are pushed to behave nonsensically.

Yet, with the suspension of disbelief, we can enjoy this exhilarating ride. Though Triangle doesn’t reveal any complex truths about the human condition, it’s a taut and intelligent horror.

Also, Read: 10 Best Time Travel Movies Ever Made

Watch triangle (2009) trailer:.

Triangle (2009) Movie Links: IMDb , Rotten Tomatoes , Letterboxd

Triangle (2009) movie cast: melissa george, michael dorman, rachael carpani, liam hemsworth, henry nixon, and joshua mcivor., trending right now.

15 Best Joaquin Phoenix Movie Performances

Arun Kumar is an ardent cinebuff, who likes to analyze movie to its minute detail. He believes in the transformative power and shared-dream experience of cinema.

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Triangle Ending Explained: The Definition Of Insanity

Melissa George, Triangle

2020 might have been the year of the time loop movie , but Christopher Smith's 2009 horror film, "Triangle," is one of the best to ever do it. The underseen film has seen a resurgence in popularity as the time loop film as a style of storytelling has expanded beyond classics like "Turn Back The Clock," "The Twilight Zone," and most famously, "Groundhog Day." In "Triangle," a young mother named Jess (Melissa George) is struggling to adjust to raising her autistic son, Tommy (Joshua McIver), on her own. She has a planned day trip on a friend's boat, but strange little coincidences occurring throughout the day start to feel like devastating inevitabilities. As time continues to loop and realities begin to fold in on each other, making sense of the film can feel overwhelming if you're not used to the timey-wimey weirdness of a film like "Triangle."

Considering the events take place at sea, many have speculated that "Triangle" is a movie about the phenomenon of the Bermuda Triangle, where superstitious people have theorized aircrafts and ships have disappeared under mysterious circumstances when passing through. There's also the fact the name of the ship featured in the film is the Aeolus, named for the figure in Greek mythology who was the keeper of the winds and king of the mythical, floating island of Aeolia. There's a lot of symbolism and double meanings hidden within "Triangle," but it's also a film with an ending that leaves no clean-cut answers for the viewer at home. Here's what happens at the end of "Triangle," and what it all possibly means for Jess.

What you need to remember about the plot of Triangle

Like "Happy Death Day," "Palm Springs," and "Lucky," Christopher Smith's "Triangle" is a time loop movie , where Jess has seemingly been living out the same boat ride over and over again. However, the film focuses on a single run of the loop, rather than a series of days with differing outcomes. The loop starts with Jess yelling at her son Tommy before being distracted by the ringing of her doorbell. She goes to investigate, but no one is there. Jess later gets in a car and arrives to get on a boat, explaining to her friend Greg (Michael Dorman) that Tommy is now at a special school for children with autism and will not be attending the trip.

While aboard, a storm is approaching, and Greg picks up a distress signal from a woman claiming that someone is killing everyone on board, but they are unable to get her location. The storm eventually capsizes Greg's boat, forcing the survivors to board a seemingly deserted passing ocean liner called Aeolus. Jess feels an extreme sensation of déjà vu as they explore the ship, eventually spotting someone watching them, and Greg's friend Victor (Liam Hemsworth) chases them down.

Jess returns to the dining room and notices the food from earlier is now rotting. Victor, returns, covered in blood, and tries to kill Jess. Gunfire is heard and Jess finds Gred dead, with passengers Sally (Rachael Carpani) and Downey (Henry Nixon) claiming that Jess is the one who shot him. Suddenly a masked shooter appears and kills them, chasing down Jess. This is where the loop converges, as Jess realizes that she is the masked killer, and there are at least two other versions of herself on board, and several versions of everyone else as well. It seems as if the loop restarts once everyone on board is killed. At least, that's Jess' theory.

What happened at the end of Triangle?

At the end of "Triangle," Jess is now aware that she's trapped in a time loop and is determined to set everything right. After failing to convince a time loop copy of herself to kill everyone on board, she's knocked overboard. Jess then awakes on the shore, realizing that it's the same morning on repeat. She makes her way home and witnesses her original self losing her patience and screaming at Tommy about his autism. She is finally seeing how monstrous and harmful her actions are to her son. Desperate to change the course of events in the loop, she sneaks up on her counterpart and kills her, shoving the body in the trunk of the car.

She, pretending to be the Jess that was just screaming at Tommy, grabs him and takes him in the car. On the drive, a seagull hits the car windshield, and Jess disposes of the bird. Unfortunately, where she dumps the bird reveals a pile of dead seagulls, a sign that she's in the loop. In an attempt to flee the scene, Jess crashes into a truck, and Tommy is killed on impact. She leaves the accident site, which includes "her" dead body (the version of herself she killed), realizing that it looks as if mother and son were both killed in the crash.

An onlooker sees Tommy's body and Jess overhears the expression, "Nothing can bring him back." Suddenly, a taxi driver approaches the scene and Jess hops in and heads to the harbor. She once again joins the others on Greg's boat, hoping that if she does something different, she may be able to prevent the inevitable and save both her son and herself from tragedy.

What the ending of Triangle means

Unfortunately, if you're looking for a concrete "this is what the ending of 'Triangle' absolutely means with 100 percent certainty" answer, you're going to be disappointed. "Triangle" does not end with a crystallized interpretation, and viewers must use their own critical thinking skills to determine what the film is trying to say at the end. We see multiple versions of Jess throughout the film, but it's important to remember that these are all the same Jess, just at different points of a recurring time loop.

The film follows one loop of Jess, but there's no telling how many times she's repeated this loop, or how long she's been trapped inside of it. The movie posits that many of the events in the time loop are unavoidable, like how she'll become the masked killer on the ship due to the line, "You have to kill them; it's the only way to get home." Unfortunately, this also implies that Tommy will always be dead, after overhearing the words of a bystander saying, "Nothing can bring him back."

And yet, there's something almost optimistic about the ending of "Triangle" as Jess seemingly voluntarily returns to the ship to experience the loop once again, indicating that she's not willing to give up and will do anything it takes to try and bring Tommy back. She says toward the end of the film that she promises to do better by her son, and her choice to try the loop again is a testament to that dedication. Then again, Albert Einstein once said, "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results." However ... love makes you do crazy things.

Another possible explanation of the ending

As "Triangle" intentionally refuses to provide any definitive answers, there's also the possibility that Jess is trapped in a hopeless predicament. As the audience, we want her to escape the loop, save her son, and live happily ever after ... but the film seemingly has different ideas. Jess returns to the ship to again repeat the events of the day at the end of the film, and it's unclear if she realizes that her mission is futile, or if she's aware that chances are grim and has elected to try anyway. At the beginning of the film, someone rings the doorbell when Jess is at home with Tommy, and we later learn that the person ringing the doorbell is Jess herself after escaping the Aeolus. This implies that at some point, Jess will make it home, but does this mean that she's destined to repeat this process over and over and over again from now until forever?

There's a chance that Jess is incapable of breaking the loop, but the reason why she's there in the first place remains unknown. There are those who believe this eternal purgatory is penance for not being a better mother to her son, while others find this to be merely a tragic coincidence, the same way that those rumored to have disappeared in the Bermuda Triangle were just regular folks going about their business. Either way, this interpretation of the ending is one that feels far more bleak and cynical than the tenacity of motherhood, and a reminder that despite the sci-fi elements of time looping, "Triangle" is wholeheartedly a horror movie for more reasons than just Jess becoming a masked killer.

What has Christopher Smith said about the ending?

Sadly, many interviews from 2009 have been sucked into the void of the early internet age, but director Christopher Smith spoke with The Fan Carpet about how "Triangle" came to be. "I just had this idea, what if when they're arriving on the boat, they see someone and that's one of the people from the boat and that's the twist," he said. He shared that when he pitched the film to studios, an executive at a festival told him it sounded like a great ending, but Smith had to explain that this reveal would take place early on.

"So it was my ambition to make the twist come, so you think you're watching this movie about character and then you're on a boat and then you're like, whoa and suddenly it all changes and it's turned on its head." He also pointed out that the house featured in the film has the same design as the ship as well as the same numbering, so the film even hints at the possibility that she never even left the house and that all of the events were in her head. "But I don't want there to be a twist where at the end you go, 'Ugh,'" he explained. "I wanted it to be a riddle at the end so that if you spot that, great, but if you don't want to accept that and you want to think it's a Bermuda Triangle movie, that's fine."

Smith isn't about to give any definitive answers, because again, that sort of defeats the entire purpose of the movie. However, he did explain that the ending of the film is intentional. "She has to be a blank canvas, she has to have lost her memory and I like the idea of two-hander at the end," he said. "She's either going in proactively and it'll all change, or she's got no memory and it's all starting again."

Will there ever be a sequel to Triangle?

It's been almost a decade and a half since "Triangle" first debuted, so it's highly unlikely that we'll see a sequel to the film at this point. Granted, stranger things have happened, like how "Top Gun: Maverick" came 36 years after the original . However, "Triangle" wasn't a massive box-office success nor was it a film that completely changed the landscape of pop culture. This is the sort of film that is loved by horror fans "in the know," so it's not like there are legions of fans begging for a return. Additionally, despite its expansive, time-looping story, "Triangle" is a pretty contained story. There are questions left up to interpretation of the viewer because, at its core, it's a horror mystery.

That said, part of the film's appeal is not having a definitive answer as to what happened to Jess after the credits roll. If there were to be a sequel, the film would either need to focus on someone else entirely caught in a similar time loop or return to Jess' story. If she was still caught in the loop after all these years, Melissa George would need to be digitally de-aged to look as if she did in 2009. This would also mean that the film would need to answer what happened with Tommy, which would lessen the impact of the original film's ending.

"Triangle" is ultimately a tale about the exhaustive lengths a mother will endure to secure the safety of her child and part of the film's power is knowing that Jess is going to keep trying until she has absolutely nothing left. This film's ending is a perfect example of "show, but don't tell." We don't need to see Jess' reunion with Tommy to feel the weight of its importance.

Triangle Explained

Triangle Movie Explained: Full Guide To The Loops And Ending

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Triangle is one of those movies that went without notice. I don’t remember any noise about the film in 2009 when it released. It’s not rated very well on IMDB, not sure why. The film has well executed time-loops and solid reasoning behind the nature of the loops. A lady takes a boat trip with her friends, they get hit by a storm, and everything goes nuts from there. If you liked films like Source Code , ARQ , Edge Of Tomorrow , and also movies like Stay and The Endless , you’d love this one. Lots of people I talked with about the movie were lost and confused. Here’s the detailed plot analysis and ending of the 2009 movie Triangle explained, spoilers ahead.

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Oh, and if this article doesn’t answer all of your questions, drop me a comment or an FB chat message, and I’ll get you the answer .  You can find other film explanations using the search option on top of the site.

Here are links to the key aspects of the movie:

  • – Plot Explanation: The Time-Loops
  • – Numbering The Groups
  • – The Liner
  • – Death of Victor
  • – Everyone Dies But Jess, End Of Loop
  • – A New Loop
  • – How Victor Actually Gets His Wound
  • – The Mysterious Masked Shooter
  • – Jess Kills Everyone Again
  • – The Nature Of The Endless Loops
  • – Jess Falls Off The Liner
  • – Summary: Even and Odd Jess(s)
  • – Triangle Movie Beginning Explained
  • – Ending Explained: Reason Behind The Loops

Triangle Plot Explanation: The Time-Loops

The Triangle movie opens with Jess comforting her autistic son Tommy who’s suffering from a nightmare. She’s dressed up and prepping to go someplace. She cleans paint off the floor, messes her dress up. She hears a doorbell, and no one is there. She packs a bag, hops into her car, and drives out to the harbour.

Here’s what I’m going to do to help explain the Triangle movie’s convoluted plot:

Numbering The Groups

The group of people who go sailing is – Jess (main focus person), Victor (single chap), Downey and Sally (married couple), Greg (boat owner), Heather (she’s not essential to the plot). I’m going to separate them into groups to help understand what in the blazes is going on.

I will number them group-3. Jess-3, Victor-3, Downey-3, Sally-3, and Greg-3 … okay, sure, Heather-3. They go sailing and get hit by a storm. Greg-3 receives a distress signal from a woman in panic. He loses the signal, the boat upturns, and they are stranded. Heather-3 gets flushed into the ocean and leaves the plot after that (see I told you, she’s dead and gone and ain’t coming back poor thing). There is a reason why I’m starting with number 3, and we’ll get to that in some time.

Triangle Movie: The Liner

On the upturned boat, group-3 sits helplessly waiting for someone to come rescue them. And out comes a massive liner to their rescue. They see someone on the deck, and they board the ship. On the liner, there seems to be nobody, and the group starts searching for anyone on-board. Jess-3 feels like she is having a déjà vu and that she already been on this liner. Jess-3 finds her own keys lying around, but no one knows how it got there. They suspect Heather is already on the ship (nope, she’s still dead).

Death of Victor in Triangle

Unable to find anyone on-board, everyone meets in the dining area. Jess-3 sees someone running away and informs the group. Victor-3 runs after this unknown person. Greg-3 and Jess-3 go around further looking for someone from the ship. They ask Downey-3 and Sally-3 to wait in the dining area. Greg-3 and Jess-3 find a room with “ Go To Theatre ” written on a mirror in blood. Jess-3 freaks out about the blood and wants off the liner, but Greg-3 intends to head to the theatre, and they separate. Jess-3 goes to the dining area and no one is there, Victor-3 comes all bloodied. Victor-3 attacks Jess-3, but in the process, Jess-3 locates a wound to the back of Victor-3’s head and aggravates it, and kills him.

Everyone Dies But Jess, End Of Loop

Jess-3 hears a gunshot, she follows it to the theatre. Greg-3 is lying dead. Downey-3 and Sally-3 are blaming Jess-3 for this. Greg-3, before he dies, tells them that Jess-? shot him ( we’ll get to who this Jess is later on ). From above, a masked person shoots both Downey-3 and Sally-3 and kills them. Jess-3 escapes and is chased by the masked person. Jess-3 overpowers the masked person who mumbles something before falling off the liner. Jess-3 is the lone survivor. She then hears a group shouting from overboard. Jess-3 sees her entire group waving from an upturned boat, even herself. Jess-3 is the ‘someone’ group-4 now witnesses on the liner. Which also means group-3 saw Jess-2 as the ‘someone’ on the ship.

So the number 3 for the group that started off, is only to help count clearly. But there have been numerous such groups that have been on the ship and dying. We don’t know how many, but perhaps a couple of dozen.

Triangle: A New Loop

I will now refer to this as group-4 (Jess-4, Victor-4, Downey-4, Sally-4, and Greg-4). Jess-3 runs around in disbelief following group-4. In the process, Jess-3 drops her keys. Jess-4 picks up the keys saying it was hers (in the same way Jess-3 did). Jess-3 gets spotted by Jess-4 and makes a run for it. Now, Jess-4 informs group-4 about the ‘someone’ running away. Victor-4 runs after Jess-3.

How Victor Actually Gets His Wound In Triangle

Victor-4 catches up to Jess-3. Jess-3 tries to explain what has just happened. Obviously, Victor-4 doesn’t understand and thinks she is crazy. By mistake, Jess-3 pushes Victor-4 back on to a sharp protrusion impaling him on the head. Jess-3 freaks out and runs for it. She finds a room with shotguns and notes on the floor, saying, “kill everyone who boards”. The letters are all written by previous versions of Jess. Jess-3’s locket gets pulled off her neck only to fall onto a bunch of replicas, lockets that belonged to the earlier versions of Jess. She picks up a gun and heads to save the people from group-4. First, Jess-3 intercepts Jess-4 and Victor-4’s meeting. This helps stop Jess-4 from aggravating Victor-4’s wound and killing him. Jess-3 doesn’t kill Jess-4, Jess-4 runs away.

jess vs Jess

Jess Is Revealed To Be The Mysterious Masked Shooter

Jess-3 runs to the theatre and saves Downey-4 and Sally-4. Greg-4 is dead, however. The Jess-3 shoots the masked shooter on top and causes a flesh wound on the head. Downey-4, Sally-4, and Jess-3 make a run for it, but Jess-3 momentarily separates from the two of them.

At this time they reveal that the masked shooter with the flesh wound is Jess, this is Jess-2.   Who is Jess-1 then? Jess-1 is the masked attacker who guns down Downey-3 and Sally-3. Notice that Jess-1 does not have a flesh wound on her head and never takes the mask off. Jess-3 makes Jess-1 fall off the liner. So in this tale of loops, at any given time, there would three Jess(s).

Jess Kills Everyone Again

Jess-2 tricks Downey-4 and Sally-4 to follow her into the room with the bloody mirror. Jess-2 kills Downey-4 with a knife and fatally wounds Sally-4, and she makes a run for it. Jess-3 spots Sally-4 and runs behind her to help. Sally-4 finds a control room and tries to send out a distress signal. This signal is the same as what Greg-3 is shown to receive at the start of the Triangle movie. Sally-4’s signal is now being received by Greg-5, off-screen, who’s not yet hit the storm. Sally-4 runs to the upper levels to a location that has a whole bunch of dead Sally’s. Just like the many lockets and notes, many Sallys have already died. After this, Jess-3 sees Jess-2 being hacked to death by Jess-4. Recap – Jess-2 is the shooter with a flesh wound to the head, and Jess-4 is the one who Jess-3 spares while trying to save Victor-4. The fight between Jess-2 and Jess-4 (the even ones) is different from the fight between Jess-1 and Jess-3 (the odd ones). This is the nature of the loops. The even-Jess behaves in one way and odd-Jess in another.

dead Sally

Jess Understands The Nature Of The Endless Loops

Sally-4 dies from bleeding, Jess-3 and Jess-4 are alive, watching a new group of themselves come to the liner. This is group-5. Group-5 sees Jess-4 as the ‘someone’ on-board. Jess-3 realizes that this is going to keep happening until everyone – including herself is killed and no one enters the liner. She is desperate to go back to her son. Jess-3 now goes ahead and cleans up all the bodies. These are all the actions Jess-1 would have done. Jess-3 removes Downey-4’s body and writes “Go To Theatre” with his blood on the mirror. Jess-3 sees Jess-4 wounding Victor-5 to the head.  The conversation that Victor-5 and Jess-4 have is also very different from the conversation Victor-4 has with Jess-3. Again, the events of the even-Jess differ from the odd-Jess.

Jess Falls Off The Liner

Jess-3 goes to the dining hall and tells Downey-5 and Sally-5 to go to the theatre. Jess-3 gets a gun, puts on a mask, and follows Greg-5 into the theatre and shoots him. Greg-5 recognizes that the shooter is Jess. Down below, we can see Downey-5 and Sally-5 blaming Jess-5 for the death of Greg-5. Jess-3 shoots and kills Downey-5 and Sally-5 (precisely in the way Jess-1 kills Downey-3 and Sally-3). Jess-5 escapes, and Jess-3 (the masked person) chases. The same fight ensues between Jess-3 and Jess-5 (that we earlier see between Jess-1 and Jess-3). Jess-5 gets the upper hand, Jess-3 mumbles “kill everyone” and falls off the liner.

Summary: Even and Odd Jess(s)

This marks the end of the liner episode. What I would like to point out here is that there are two loops of events:

  • ODDs: Where Jess never sees the face of a past Jess .  Odd-Jess always ends up seeing a future Jess’ face. The past Jess she meets and fights has a mask on. Odd-Jess never gets to see the past Jess’ face. Also, odd-Jess never gets intercepted by a past Jess and hence ends up fighting a Victor in the dining area, and kills him. Finally, odd-Jess never gets hacked to death; she simply falls off the liner.
  • EVENs: Where Jess sees the face of a past Jess.  Even-Jess always gets intercepted by her past self in the dining area. Even-Jess sees the past Jess’ face. However, even-Jess goes on to get a flesh wound to her head when she’s trying to shoot. Finally, Even-Jess always gets hacked to death and thrown overboard.

dead bird

After The Liner: Triangle Movie Beginning Explained

The story continues following Jess-3, who falls off the liner alive. She gets washed on to the shore and heads back home. From outside, she sees the events of the morning in her house. This means that she has returned at an earlier point in time. Jess-3 sees her morning-self shout and abuse her son. Tommy sees Jess-3 outside the window and causes the paint to spill. The morning-Jess yells at Tommy and starts cleaning up the colour and soils her dress (exactly like in the first scene). Jess-3 rings the doorbell and hides. Morning-Jess hears the doorbell, but no one is there (now you know who ran that bell). Jess-3 sneaks up behind morning-Jess and bludgeons her with a hammer.

Tommy sees this. Jess-3 holds Tommy and tells him that he just had a nightmare (so that’s the nightmare in the first scene). She puts the dead Jess into a bag and packs it with other clothes (so there was a dead body in the bag in the first scene). She loads the car and drives off. On the way, she hits a seagull. She stops to dispose of the dead seagull and notices a whole bunch of dead seagulls. This only means that other Jess(s) (the odd ones who survive on the liner) have been around doing the same actions. The nightmare loop is still progressing. The seagulls are shown to somehow be connected to the liner. Hence, like everything on the ship, they keep accumulating (e.g., multiple lockets, multiple notes, multiple dead Sallys).

Jess-3 gets back in the car and starts driving. Distracted by Tommy, she hits a truck, and the car tumbles. This kills Tommy. The body of the dead morning-Jess is lying out. However, Jess-3 is uninjured and standing around watching the accident. A taxi guy offers a ride, and she heads to the harbour. When she enters the harbour, she meets a Victor, a Greg, a Downey, a Sally, and a Heather. They are just preparing for the sail. The loop has started all over, and they head out.

This explains why Jess-3 has a déjà vu in the liner. The shock of her son dying makes her imagine that her son is in school, and she’s come for a sailing trip without him. Her guilt is not that she’s left him in school but that she resulted in his death.

Triangle Movie Ending Explained: Reason Behind The Loops

What is going on in the movie triangle.

Try and recollect the conversation about Aeolus, the name of the liner. Sisyphus, the son of Aeolus, breaks a promise he makes to death. As a result, he is punished by being compelled to roll an immense boulder up a hill, only to watch it roll back down, and to repeat this action forever. Ring a bell?

The analogy to this is Jess making a promise to the cab driver that she would return. She says, “I promise”. Like Aeolus, Jess breaks her promise too. She goes to the harbour but decides to go on the sailing trip. This analogy also means that Jess is dead, and her soul is refusing to cross over in the ferry (taxi). 

When in the movie does she really die then? My theory is that the original version of the accident is never shown in the movie Triangle. Jess, as a character, is shown to be annoyed and irritated with her autistic son. She perhaps drove her car rashly and, in her distraction, crashed the car. The accident scene shows a dead Jess and a dead Tommy. This is something that possibly happened. Jess wearing shorts, stands by and watches the accident, is actually dead, and is taken away by the Taxi driver who is calm and composed even after seeing the accident and the two Jess(s). No one else notices two Jess’. Additionally, the time on her watch matches the clock on the ship, perhaps it’s the time of her death, 8:17AM.

The events of the loop are all analogous to the act of “ rolling an immense boulder up a hill “. So, we can safely assume that events of the loop are all post-death. What we need to locate is the start point of the loop. The harbour seems the logical point where the loop starts as that is right after her breaking her promise to the taxi man (death). Each time she breaks her promise, a new loop of punishment begins. This will only end if Jess accepts her death and that her son was killed because of her annoyance.

Did you like the movie Triangle and its ending? Find out where it ranks in this giant list of time travel movies:

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10 TV Shows With Time Travel That Actually Makes Sense

10 movies like the girl who leapt through time you have to see, 8 time travel movies that actually make sense.

  • Time loop movies add new dimension to genre beyond time travel, with various genres exploring the concept in unique ways.
  • Some films, like "The Map Of Tiny Perfect Things," showcase time loops used for personal development and reflection.
  • Time loop movies range from horror to sci-fi, demonstrating versatility of the concept in creating captivating narratives.

Time travel movies are always interesting, but the truly best time loop movies add an extra special aspect to the genre — and do it with style. Time loop movies are defined as when a character, for one reason or another, relives a day or experience over and over again and must figure out what they need to do to escape it. Hollywood has used this concept numerous times for different genres with varying success. So many notable movies have employed a time loop premise and its influence in sci-fi movies shows no signs of fading away anytime soon.

There are many examples of time travel on the big screen , but cool time loop movies come with their own spin. Time loop plots have been shown to work in just about anything from family comedies to experimental science-fiction, so there's no shortage of great time loop films to recommend to fans of any genre. The best time loop movies show just how versatile the idea is, featuring a lot of action and horror as well as theoretical science and metaphorical drama . The best movies featuring the time loop idea are beloved classics and cult hits the world over.

Time travel is a fun element of sci-fi, but it needs to be done right. These series utilize time travel in a way that makes sense and abides by rules.

Released In 1990

12:01pm (1990).

A unique addition to the long list of time loop movies that exist, 12:01pm doesn’t take place over the course of a day or a week. Instead, this short film takes place over the course of a single lunch hour , or more accurately, over 59 minutes. Starring That 70s Show’s Kurtwood Smith as Myron Castleman, the movie sees his character start off his time loop by standing in the middle of the road when he’s started his lunch break from work.

He spends his next time loop chapter trying to find the scientist who predicted the time bounce.

Myron, fortunately, spends one of the hours of his time loop seeing a news broadcast that details a report of “time bounces,” which is exactly what he finds happening to him, as he’s bounced back to the start of the 59 minutes as soon as it ends. He spends his next time loop chapter trying to find the scientist who predicted the time bounce. It’s an incredibly unique take on a time loop movie that manages not to get too repetitive despite the shorter time frame.

19 The Map Of Tiny Perfect Things

Released in 2021, the map of tiny perfect things.

The Map Of Tiny Perfect Things turns the idea of the time loop on its head because it begs the question: why would you want to escape a time loop where you know how everything plays out? That’s the question for Mark (Kyle Allen), a teenager who uses the time loop to slightly change his decisions every day and make himself into a seemingly effortlessly cool individual.

When he meets Margaret (Kathryn Newton), however, his perspective on the time loop changes just a little bit. Instead of making herself cooler to other people, Margaret likes to create “tiny perfect things” within the time loop, moments of everyday beauty that can be missed when people are too busy moving on to the next thing . She finds them or creates them and returns to them again and again. It’s a great and unusual take on a time loop movie.

18 The Incredible Shrinking Wknd

Released in 2019, the incredible shrinking wknd (2019).

The Incredible Shrinking Wknd is not the typical time-loop movie. Instead of repeating the same set time over and over, this time loop lessens by an hour every time it repeats. That puts a ticking clock on this time loop , creating tension that makes the audience and the main character wonder just what will happen when the time loop finally ends.

That main character is Alba (Iria del Rio), who is someone quite literally stuck in a rut in her life when the time loop occurs. She finds herself unsure of where she wants her life to take her as she’s unemployed, living with her father, and heads out with friends to celebrate her 30th birthday. Alba has to find an opportunity to grow even as her chance seems to get shorter and shorter.

17 The Girl Who Leapt Through Time

Released in 2006, the girl who leapt through time (2006).

This beloved anime isn’t strictly a time loop movie, but it does have a major time loop element in it. The movie is more about time travel as a whole when the main character Makoto Konno (voiced by Riisa Naka) discovers she has the ability to time travel. She uses that ability without thinking about the consequences until she settles on her school days.

The Girl Who Leapt Through Time sees the main character relive her school days over and over again, trying to fix her past mistakes. She chooses to loop time and go back and change things instead of necessarily getting stuck in a loop as most other fictional characters do . The narrative here, however, explores the unintended consequences of her changes. The movie highlights how small decisions can have a big impact.

For fans of the sci-fi anime The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, they should check out these 10 movies.

16 Two Distant Strangers

Released in 2020, two distant strangers (2020).

Two Distant Strangers is an unusual addition to the time loop selection because it is not a feature-length movie, but a short film directed by Travon Free and Martin Desmond Roe. The duo team up to provide a half-hour movie depicting police brutality and the Black American community .

Joey Bada$$ has an encounter with a police officer that becomes the focal point of a time loop.

Joey Bada$$ stars as Carter, a man who has a one-night stand and just wants to get home to his dog the next day. He has an encounter with a police officer that becomes the focal point of a time loop. The thought-provoking short film earned a 2021 Academy Award for Best Live-Action Short Film and is a great way to use the time loop trope in a modern context. It opens up conversations about racism, abuse of power, and police brutality, all with a very small window of time to tell a story.

15 Christmas Every Day

Released in 1996, christmas every day (1996).

Originally based on an 1892 short story about a girl who wishes to have Christmas every day, the story was adapted to match the then-recent hit Groundhog Day when this movie released in 1996. Christmas Every Day revolves around Billy, a selfish teenager who's forced to relive Christmas every day until he understands its true meaning .

This slightly non-traditional Christmas movie premiered on The Family Channel and has since become a perennial favorite, replaying every Christmas on each iteration of The Family Channel: Fox Family, then ABC Family, and then Freeform. It offers the morality tale of something like A Christmas Carol , but it does so with a slightly different story featuring a '90s family . The movie actually got a remake in 2006 as then ABC Family created Christmas Do-Over with an adult protagonist instead.

14 Timecrimes

Released in 2007, timecrimes (2007).

In Timecrimes , a man is attacked by a mysterious masked assailant in the woods, leading him to take refuge in a secluded scientific research facility and the realization that he is already caught in the fateful web of an ongoing time loop, where his actions are already predetermined, but he is yet to discover exactly what they will be and why.

Timecrimes is a fascinatingly fun take on both sci-fi and horror concepts that may seem overused but are given a new lease on life here thanks to the time loop movie's smart plotting and down-to-earth style . It's unusual to see a time loop concept employed in horror, but there are a handful of horror movies that make the idea their own. While Timecrimes isn't as well known as some of the others, it's worth a watch.

13 The Final Girls

Released in 2015, the final girls.

Three years after the death of her actress sister, Amanda, Max Cartwright  and her friends find themselves trapped in a bizarre time loop after attending a screening of Amanda's cult classic film. Transported into the movie world, they must navigate the slasher flick's deadly tropes to survive and find a way back home.

The Final Girls takes a unique twist on the time loop genre while also being a satire of the slasher genre. The movie transports a group of high school students into a 1980s slasher movie where they experience the movie's 92-minute running time over and over, and have to relive its horrors and murders each time. The Final Girls premiered at the South By Southwest Film Festival and critics praised it for its unique take on the slasher genre and its various tropes , as well as making clever use of the time loop concept.

Instead of strictly being a morality tale, The Final Girls is focused on the stages of grief . As the group of teens relive the slasher movie over and over, one of them has a particular connection to it: her mother was one of the stars and has since died. It's an interesting way to approach closure.

12 Before I Fall

Released in 2017, before i fall (2017).

Based on the Young Adult book of the same name, Before I Fall stars Zoey Deutch as a popular teenager who starts reliving the same day over and over again following a car crash . Stuck in a time loop, she tries to change her ways and make a difference in the life of a girl she had bullied in the past. Like many time loop movies, the story plays with the idea of how small decisions can make big differences, but it also posits that some things are going to happen no matter what.

The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and was later released to theaters to mixed reviews, with much criticism directed toward its ending, but Zoey Deutch's performance received high praise. The movie was also nominated for several Teen Choice Awards, winning one.

11 The Endless

The endless.

The Endless expands on time loop ideas featured in the 2012 movie, Resolution , from directors, producers, and lead actors Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead. Both of the movies feature some of the same characters, but it's not necessary to see one to understand the other. The story features a signature blend of sci-fi horror and indie dramedy and the hand-crafted quality to it (Benson also served as the film's writer while Moorhead also served as its cinematographer) give it a real personality .

The time loop movie is still engagingly surprising and original throughout.

The plot revolves around two brothers who return to an isolated–but largely non-threatening–cult commune that they once belonged to when they were young, and while the setup for all the dark revelations that the two discover is fairly clear-cut, the time loop movie is still engagingly surprising and original throughout.

10 Triangle

Released in 2009.

This psychological thriller follows a group of friends stranded on a yacht in the Bermuda Triangle, where they board a passing ship only to experience terrifying temporal distortions and duplications of themselves.

A fun time loop movie that is also a variation on both the ghost ship story and slasher movies, Triangle sees a group of shipwrecked friends take refuge on a creepy old derelict cruise ship with a masked killer on board . Writer and director Christopher Smith was inspired by the Greek myth of Sisyphus, who was cursed to repeatedly move a boulder up a mountain, but could never reach the top. The same idea is used in time loop movies that gradually get closer to their conclusion before the loop begins again.

The time loop angle comes into play throughout the movie as characters begin to notice events playing out again, with the identity and motivation of the killer evolving as the story goes along. Fans of twists in horror movies are sure to have a fun time with this amazing cerebral thriller as Triangle 's time loop plot leads to a twist ending that is clever and unexpected.

Released In 2004

Primer (2004).

A micro-budgeted masterpiece, Shane Carruth's debut movie Primer is one of the few science-fiction movies that focuses just as much on science as it does on fiction and one of an even smaller number that does it well. The plot follows two aspiring inventors who accidentally discover time travel and, as much as that sounds like a setup for comedic hijinks, the realistic nature of the theoretical science employed leads to some very real problems for the two .

It's a fascinating watch for genre fans and provides perhaps the most hypothetically accurate time loop movie ever made. Much of that is likely due to Carruth having so much creative control over the movie. Carruth isn't just the writer and director, but also producer, editor, and even the one who wrote the movie's musical score.

8 Boss Level

As the title suggests, Boss Level is inspired by the gleeful destruction of video games, particularly retro shoot 'em-ups . The movie almost didn't get made. Originally developed in 2012 for 20th Century Fox, it didn't move forward with the studio. It took until 2017 for a creative team to get the movie back on track to film in 2018.

The plot follows Frank Grillo's gruff and down-on-his-luck hero as they fight through an endless repeat of a day filled with nothing but well-trained and well-armed assassins trying to kill him, and it exploits almost every opportunity for an action scene. It's not all car chases and explosions, however. The movie sticks close to the core credo of self-betterment through repetition , with Grillo's lousy husband/absent father taking the opportunity to reflect on his life in all the carnage of the time loop movie.

Time travel is a common theme in the sci-fi genre, and with every artist making their own time travel rules, not all movies make sense.

7 Predestination

Released in 2014, predestination (2014).

This relatively small-scale Australian sci-fi movie was adapted from Robert Heinlein's complex short story "–All You Zombies–" and wasn't a big box office draw on release. Nevertheless, it quickly developed a loving fanbase that has rated it among the best time loop movies ever. Featuring a time-traveling agent that is trapped in a paradoxical game of cat and mouse with a bomber, Predestination is really a much more philosophical sci-fi movie than most and explores the theoretical concepts at the heart of the time loop idea to their fullest extent.

Much more than a morality play, Predestination examines the idea of using time travel to prevent bad acts and how that may or may not work. It also examines issues surrounding identity - whether it is crafted or predetermined, making for one of the most fascinating time loop movies .

6 Source Code

Released in 2011, source code.

Source Code is a sci-fi thriller that stars Jake Gyllenhaal as an Army Captain named Colter Stevens who finds himself stuck in an eight-minute simulated time loop where a train explodes at the end of the timer. Disoriented and waking up in a capsule every time the simulation resets, Colter learns that the explosion was real. He is sent into the scenario repeatedly to discover the truth behind the bombing - but the truth behind the experiment may be even darker than he was prepared for.

Source Code tells the story of an army pilot (Jake Gyllenhaal) who is sent into the body of a deceased train passenger through whom he must relive the eight minutes leading up to the detonation of a bomb that destroys the train. Beyond the time loop angle, the movie also broaches the subject of alternate timelines created by the loops, something not often considered in the subgenre .

The movie is a taut thriller that's full of twists and turns as it relies on the protagonist not fully understanding how he was dropped into his predicament in the first place . It is another solid addition to Jake Gyllenhaal's filmography and he gives an excellent performance. It's a grippingly stylish take on the time loop movie idea, with the 8-minute window keeping the story moving along–quite fittingly–like a locomotive.

5 Happy Death Day

Happy death day.

Happy Death Day is a horror comedy where college student Theresa "Tree" Gelbman (Jessica Rothe) is trapped in a time loop on the day of her murder, like a gorier version of Groundhog Day. Like Bill Murray's Phil Connors, Theresa begins to change and grow as a person after countless deaths.

Blumhouse's hit Happy Death Day revolves around a college student who keeps reliving the day a serial killer murdered her . It just so happened that the same day she was murdered was her birthday. Trapped in a time loop, she must try to figure out who the person is who is killing her.

The movie was a huge box office hit, grossing $125 million worldwide off a $4.8 million budget. Happy Death Day received mostly positive reviews for its time loop spin on the slasher genre and spawned a sequel, Happy Death Day 2U , in 2019. The stories of both movies were also combined into a novelization for fans who wanted to get into the main character's mind just a bit more. There are currently no plans for a third installment in the potential franchise.

4 Palm Springs

Palm springs.

Palm Springs is a sci-fi comedy film that sees two strangers, Nyles and Sarah, who meet at a wedding reception and, after heading off for a night of debauchery, are tossed into a strange vortex that keeps them date locked in November 9th with no perceivable way out. Nyles and Sarah bond while trying to find an escape from the odd time loop as the truth behind the vortex slowly unravels.

Palm Springs takes the time loop concept into the romantic-comedy category when a bridesmaid, Sarah (Cristin Milioti), finds herself stuck in a time loop on the day of her sister's wedding, where another guest, Nyles (Andy Samberg) has already been reliving the day for a very long time. While stuck in the loop, they fall in love. However, while Sarah wants to find a way out of the loop, Nyles wants to stay.

One of the most interesting aspects of the movie is that there isn't just one person living in this time loop. In fact, there aren't just two as another person outside of the central couple also finds themselves trapped. Critics praised the film for its performances and for using the time loop movie concept as a metaphor for relationships and marriage.

Released In 2012

In the sci-fi action thriller Looper, time travel is possible, but illegal and only available on the black market. When the mob wants to get rid of someone, they will send their target 30 years into the past, where a "looper," a hired gun, is waiting to mop up. Joe is getting rich as a Looper and life is good... until the day the mob decides to "close the loop," sending back Joe's future self for assassination.

In a dystopian future, victims are sent back through time from an even worse future to be disposed of in their past. At the heart of this elaborate system of mob execution lies the titular "Loopers", hitmen who are bound to their fate by the knowledge that they too will one day be sent back in time to be killed and forgotten forever .

Writer and director Rian Johnson wove an excitingly original sci-fi story with this thriller about a Looper who loses his older self in the past and must track them down. It's a movie that clearly cares more about the emotional impact of the story than it does scientific accuracy, even on a theoretical level. But that's never something that holds it back and sci-fi and time loop movie fans instantly took to it.

2 Edge Of Tomorrow

Edge of tomorrow.

Based on Hiroshi Sakurazaka's novel All You Need is Kill, Edge of Tomorrow follows Major William Cage (Tom Cruise), who finds himself drafted into humanity's ongoing war against a seemingly unstoppable race of hostile aliens called Mimics. Cage is killed in combat, but wakes in a time loop, reliving the same battle day after day. Gradually, he realizes that if he teams up with the decorated war hero Sergeant Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt), he can exploit the time loop to defeat the Mimic army and save the human race. 

Based on the Japanese light novel All You Need Is Kill , Edge of Tomorrow revolves around an alien invasion wherein a cowardly public relations officer (Tom Cruise) is killed in battle, only to relive the same day and battle repeatedly. Emily Blunt plays the officer who helps him during the loop, training him repeatedly because she once experienced a time loop of her own. The movie really leans into the science fiction elements of the time loop by making it a side effect of exposure to alien blood .

The movie received positive reviews from critics, but the box office was considered lukewarm. When released on home media, the movie's tagline "Live. Die. Repeat." was rebranded as the movie's title, leading to some confusion. However, the title in the movie itself remains the same. Despite its mediocre box office, home media sales were very good and talk of an Edge of Tomorrow sequel has persisted for years.

1 Groundhog Day

Released in 1993, groundhog day.

In Groundhog Day, the arrogant weatherman Phil Connors (Bill Murray) finds himself living the exact same day over and over for what feels like an eternity. To cope with his curse, he learns a variety of skills in the town of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, and tries to earn the heart of his colleague Rita Hanson (Andie MacDowell) while he adapts to the time loop.

The benchmark by which all time-loop movies are judged, Groundhog Day stars Bill Murray as Phil Connors, a weather forecaster who finds himself reliving Groundhog Day again and again . Over time, audiences have found many philosophical and spiritual aspects of Phil's journey. There have been numerous interpretations as to what Phil's time loop is really supposed to mean, though it does provide the morality play that has become standard in time loop stories.

Notably, the movie has been noted as the time loop being an exploration of the five stages of grief, Buddhist teachings, and many Catholics view Phil's time loop as purgatory and that he can only be freed by embracing selflessness, and it's this depth that makes it the best time loop movie . Whatever the intention, audiences will be viewing Groundhog Day over and over again for years to come.

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Film / Triangle

Edit locked.

Triangle is a 2009 British-Australian psychological thriller film directed by Christopher Smith (who also directed Creep (2004) and Severance (2006) ).

The story revolves around Jess ( Melissa George ), one of the passengers of a yachting trip in the Atlantic Ocean who, when struck by mysterious weather conditions, jump to a deserted cruise ship only to get stuck in either a "Groundhog Day" Loop , Stable Time Loop , Alternate Timeline , Bad Future or Close-Enough Timeline .

Yeah... It's pretty confusing ...Naturally, Everyone Is Jesus in Purgatory occurs.

Not to be confused with the 2007 Hong Kong film or the 1981 British soap opera of the same title .

Triangle provides examples of:

  • Abusive Parents : Jess, as it turns out (both physically and verbally). She really does love Tommy, but his disability takes her to her limits and beyond.
  • Action Mom : Toyed with. Maternal figure Jess reveals her decent combat skills while on board.
  • Alpha Bitch : Sally, to an extent.
  • Alternate Timeline : The first time the first Jess meets the second Jess ignoring the Killer Jess before a new timeline has been created where the other passengers died differently. Subverted in that the two timelines play off at the same time and each influence each other. For example the new timeline eventually causes the second Jess to have her own story, which we don't see, where she eventually killed some of the passengers as the second masked killer which eventually made the first Jess turn into the first masked killer. Also, in the end it turns out that the only timeline that really matters is one that is overarching to both of these.
  • Ambiguously Gay : Greg seems to be viewed this way by Downey: "You are living on a boat with an 18-year-old boy and you are asking me not to bring girls". He later also inquires if Greg and Victor sunbathe together. He seems to be implying that the two are involved.
  • Amicable Exes : Greg and Sally used to date in high school, and still refer to each other as their "ex". They remain best friends to their late 20s when they die .
  • Amnesia Loop : Both versions of Jess who turn up at the harbor have undergone traumatic experiences and it is evident in their behavior. Later in the timeline of the first of them, she falls asleep for a couple of hours. When she wakes up, one of the first thing she mentions is "I don't remember". During the loop she seems to re-learn things that she had forgotten about. One interpretation is that the loop gives her temporary amnesia and she keeps attempting to recover her memories. When she succeeds, its time for the cycle to re-start.
  • Anti-Hero : In the end you realize that, basically, everything bad that happens to Jess and people around her throughout the film is her own doing.
  • Anti-Villain : Jess kills all her friends, but she did it in order to stop the time loop from happening.
  • Apologetic Attacker : "Mean Jess" from the second loop, after she's finished repeatedly stabbing Downey. "I'm sorry, but I love my son".
  • Arc Number : Several scenes occur in either the residence of Jess or a cabin of the Aeolus. Both are numbered "237" as a reference to The Shining .
  • Arc Words : Jess says "I didn't do this" whenever something her alternate versions do, going hand-in-hand with Poor Communication Kills . Given the lesson of the movie, it's probably to show that she refuses to accept responsibility/the fact that she killed her son and it can't be undone.
  • Arguably Sally, due to her bitchy and disdainful attitude towards Jess (even going so far as to snottily refer to Jess's son as a "retard").
  • Jess herself. At least, the original Jess, who was physically and verbally abusive towards her autistic son, and was killed by the 'Time Loop Jess' whom we follow through the movie .
  • 'Mean Jess', who brutally stabbed Downey and Sally, ends up getting beaten to death by yet another Jess (presumably an earlier iteration of herself) .
  • Atop a Mountain of Corpses : Sally atop Sallys.
  • Bludgeoned to Death : Jess smashing the original Jess' head in with a hammer.
  • Break the Cutie : Jess. She went through so much trauma due to the looping time and weird things happening around her - not to mention eventually learning that she already tried to change events in previous loops , she's Madden Into Misanthropy .
  • Break the Haughty : Sally. She is hardly a sympathetic character, and constantly acts as if sitting on the high horse, but then she's chased like a wild animal by a masked killer, only to run into a pile of dozens of her own bodies in different stages of decomposition while already badly wounded .

movie cruise ship time loop

  • Camera Abuse : When the record player plays the broken record, we see a couple of freeze frames in sync with the jumping of the needle.
  • Greg doesn't believe Jess when she claims that she's sure she's been on the boat before, trying to tell her that it's all in her head. Unless the entire movie takes place in Jess' head, of course.
  • Victor figures early on that something is off with Jess, because she had trouble answering where her son was and then claimed he was at school. On a Saturday. He warns Greg, who ignores the warning and theorizes that special needs schools are open at weekends. Jess is lying and her son is dead by this point .
  • The cab driver warns Jess that there is no point in trying to save the boy (her son). Yet she voluntarily re-enters the loop in an effort to do just that, despite the mounting (literally, in the form of mounting bodies of Sallys and seagulls) evidence that it is futile. One view of the events of the film is that the only way to actually end the loop is for Jess to finally quit trying.
  • Classical Mythology : The plot lays out a personal hell for Jess with obvious references to the story of Sisyphus. According to the myth, Zeus enchanted the rock so it would roll down before reaching the top of the hill. Jess's intent to save her son represents that enchanted rock which crushes her every time she rolls it up. That's why she always ends up dead no matter how the loop turns, either in the accident or killed by herself on the ship.
  • Come with Me If You Want to Live : Mean Jess asks this of Sally and Downey. They pay with their lives for trusting her. Though what exactly "life" and death" mean on that ship and in the film in general, and how permanent "death" is - that's anyone's guess.
  • Couldn't Find a Pen : Downey starts to write his killer's name on the mirror using his own blood, but dies partway through.
  • Cynicism Catalyst : The car crash that kills Jess' son marks her Start of Darkness .
  • Dark and Troubled Past : Victor. Per the backstory, he got in trouble at home (wherever that is), ran away, and spent time as a vagrant. Greg found him sleeping at the harbor and took him in.
  • Death of the Hypotenuse : Averted. Heather looks like the designated character to complicate the Greg-Jess relationship. However, she exits the stage before a serious Love Triangle can unfold.
  • Designated Girl Fight : Killer Jess vs Jess, when we watch things from Jess' perspective. Later, when Jess is right next to dying Sally, she watches as another Jess murders Mean Jess with an axe .
  • Deus Ax Machina : When being chased by the Sackhead Slasher , Jess grabs a fire axe off the bulkhead of the ocean liner and uses it to defend herself.
  • Despair Event Horizon : Jess reaches this point twice. First on the ship when she realizes that she can't set things right and subsequently turns into a Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds . The second time this happens after the car crash that kills her son .
  • Disappeared Dad : Jess raises her son Tommy as a single mother. No indication what happened to the father, though she casually mentions that he was an asshole.
  • Discovering Your Own Dead Body : It's almost impossible to imagine what poor Sally must have thought on stumbling upon THAT pile... Alleviated a bit by the fact that she's arguably an Asshole Victim .
  • Disproportionate Retribution : When asked why Sisyphus was doomed to push the rock up the hill, Sally answers that he made a promise to death that he didn't keep. In the end Jess promises to return to the black-clad cabbie driver, but does not and begins the causal loop again .
  • Distress Call : The Triangle gets one from the Ghost Ship . It amounts to nothing. As it turns out, a future Sally sent it.
  • Disturbed Doves : A flock of disturbed seagulls take flight when Jess bursts out on to the top deck and finds a wounded Sally crawling away through piles of dead copies of herself .
  • Downer Ending : The loop will repeat itself again and again. Though there's arguably a small bit of "Ray of Hope" Ending as well since we learn that Jess might be able to escape the loop if she's finally ready to accept the death of her son and move on.
  • Dramatic Unmask : When the Sackhead Slasher 's identity is revealed. It's another incarnation of Jess.
  • Dreaming of Things to Come : While on board Greg's yacht, Jess dreams of her body washing up ashore on a beach. This happens much later on the film. Due to the nature of the time loop, this scene may instead be a fading memory of a previous cycle of the loop .
  • Driver Faces Passenger : Late in the movie, Jess is distracted by her son in the backseat, so she turns around for several seconds without looking ahead and crashes into an oncoming truck .
  • Drowning Pit : The interior of the sailing boat becomes a Death Trap when water floods in during the storm.
  • Downey , with his last breath, manages to write " Jes " on the mirror using his blood . Too bad, the killer sees it first and subverts this trope by changing the message to " Go To The Theater " .
  • Also Greg , before he dies, lets Sally and Downey know who killed him.
  • Dying Moment of Awesome : After being portrayed as a useless slacker and ending up basically butchered by Mean Jess, Downey still musters enough strength to haul himself to the bathroom, open a water tap (so it makes sound even after he will be long dead) and writes his killer's name on the mirror .
  • Ear Worm : "Anchors Aweigh" (especially in Glenn Miller's rendition) must be this for Jess.
  • Easy Amnesia : Jess goes into an Amnesia Loop by taking a nap in the cab and later on the yacht. She forgets everything that is going to happen. However, some vestigial memories remain which lead to her having deja vu moments upon entering the ship.
  • Enclosed Space : The crew being trapped on a Ghost Ship with a mysterious killer.
  • Endless Corridor : The ship features a couple.
  • "Everybody Dies" Ending : Mean Jess asks this of Jess and eventually this becomes true for every character but the cab driver .
  • Evil Costume Switch : Once Jess decides to start killing the passengers, they change from their casual clothes into a mechanic's jumpsuit and hide their face behind a sack mask.
  • Extremely Short Timespan : The story plays out within one day. Or so it seems; the exact nature of time loop is unclear.
  • Fate Worse than Death : Jess is stuck in a time loop (or purgatory, depending on your interpretation) in which she murders her friends and accidentally kills her son over and over again. Probably even worse is the fact that in the end she actually opts for it herself , to some degree at least.
  • Final Girl : Jess... sort of.
  • Greg is a longtime friend of Downey and Sally, and the current employer of Victor. Jess seems to be a recent acquaintance, and he has never met Heather before.
  • Victor was an 18-year-old vagrant who Greg took in as an employee and roommate. There is no real indication that he is particularly familiar with the rest of the crew.
  • Downey and Sally are friends with Greg and Heather. They don't know or care much for either Jess or Victor.
  • Heather is a friend of Sally, and an acquaintance to Downey. She doesn't know any of the others.
  • Jess became acquainted with Greg at her workplace, but this seems to be the first time they spend any time together. She has no known previous interaction with Victor, and does not actually know any of the others.
  • Fish-Eye Lens : Used for some of Jess's Sanity Slippage scenes.
  • Tommy's capsized toy boat in the pool.
  • Jess dreaming of herself stranded at the beach .
  • Greg points out to Jess: "But you can't be everywhere all of the times". For most of the film, there are five versions of Jess roaming around the Aeolus.
  • The mirror shot showing three reflections of Jess at once.
  • Yet another one from Greg: "What is it? Is it Tommy? You feel guilty?"
  • The record player on the ship, playing the broken record, mirroring a timeloop. Moreover, Jess moves the needle backward on the record rather than forward, perpetuating the loop instead of moving beyond it.
  • The painting of seagulls in Jess's kitchen. Also the seagulls that constantly follow the ship and Jess. Jess accidentally kills a seagull just before the car accident that takes her son's life. Also, according to legend, killing a seagull or albatross is considered to be bad luck.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus : If you pause the film during the first fight between Jess and the killer, you can see the killer wears Jess' distinctive sandals .
  • Future Me Scares Me : Jess throws the masked killer overboard which she later finds out is herself. The second time it happens the killer has even been unmasked, but the new Jess tries to kill her anyways.
  • Future Self Reveal : Jess and her friends end up on an passenger ship and all but Jess are killed by a masked stranger. Jess gets caught in a time loop and eventually becomes the masked stranger when she realizes the only way she can get off the boat and back to her son is if she kills everyone on board and resets the loop.
  • Somebody ringing the door bell at Jess', which later turns out to be her future self .
  • Pretty much everywhere on the ship, on account of the loop.
  • Ghost Ship : The Aeolus is deserted, its crew and passengers apparently long gone. The ship actually dates to The '30s and there is a photo of it dating to 1932. An interesting spin on the trope is that there seems to be no evil presence - or any presence at all, for that matter - on the ship apart from the characters we're already following (these might appear in unexpected different versions though). The ship itself is subtly implied to be sentient but its role in the events is basically limited to providing a fitting background for the plot to unfold - a symbolic one, too.
  • Gold Digger : Sally expresses the belief that Jess is after Greg's money, and that her sob stories about an autistic son are part of an extortion plan.
  • The Grim Reaper : The black-clad taxi driver who ferries Jess back to the Triangle is implied to be a stand-in, especially considering how Jess's broken promise to pay him mirrors Sisyphus's broken promise to death.
  • "Groundhog Day" Loop : Jess witnesses the death of her co-passengers from different views because apparently the whole situation starts all over again when they die. Different from the typical loop in that the sequence of events restarts, but the physical evidence of the previous iterations of the loop remain.
  • Hero of Another Story : Mean Jess. She's part of the Stable Time Loop and eventually is murdered with an axe by unknown version of Jess note  (most likely the one that runs away from Shotgun Jess in the restaurant) , but we never learn from where exactly she comes from and what is her backstory. It's only implied she's a version of Jess that lived through the "big" loop (boarding the yacht in the harbor) a few times too many (possibly, to really rub it in, without amnesia) and got really desperate, but that's all .
  • Heroic BSoD : Jess has one in the ship's machine room, after her desperate attempt to stop the ship's movement by demolishing the wheels and cogs.
  • Hollywood Autism : Tommy, son of Jess, is a mild example. He is a male child who is unable to live what most people would call a normal life. Otherwise his behavior is not that abnormal for a child, including an interest in painting, a tendency to leave his toys everywhere in the house, and leaving the occasional accidental mess when handling liquids.
  • Hooks and Crooks : The Sackhead Slasher on the ocean liner attacks Jess with a boot hook.
  • Hostile Weather : The sailing trip goes well until the weather becomes odd. The ship goes from a speed of 7 knots (8.055 miles /12.96 kilometers per hour) to 0 in mere seconds - a change which Greg, the only experienced sailor among them, quickly marks as strangely abrupt. Then some kind of strange electrical storm turns up on the horizon, heading their way. A quick communication with the coast guard establishes that there is no other report of any strange weather in the area.
  • I Cannot Self-Terminate : Jess can't bring herself to shoot any version of herself until reaching the stage of being Killer Jess. What's more, the first thing she does when she gets a hold of a shotgun for the first time is openly contemplating suicide... which she of course doesn't go through with .
  • I Hate Past Me : Future Killer Jess, having gotten tossed off the boat, finds herself at the beginning of the day and sees herself physically abusing and yelling at her kid. Hating what she used to be, and having long since had her share of Jumping Off the Slippery Slope , she smashes her past self's head in and tries to take her place. Somehow this does not result in erasing herself from time, but sets up an infinite loop .
  • I Have a Family : First thing that comes to Jess's mind when the masked killer is about to shoot her is saying "I have a son". Which is the very reason why Killer Jess wants to kill Scared Jess and just go back home or at least allow one of the iterations of Jess to never end up trapped on the ship . And of course let's not forget Tommy is dead at this point of the story anyway, making it all a (probably accidental) lie on part of amnesiac Original Jess and wishful thinking at best or outright insanity on part of Mean Jess . It Makes Sense in Context .
  • Idiot Ball : Jess during her Killer Jess phase. She quickly understands that she's in a time loop and tries to break it and after several failures, she comes up with a plan to stand on the boarding platform and stop the group from entering. It could very well work if she didn't purposefully run into the fight she had with herself in the first part of the movie even though she knows she will get thrown from the ship and obviously won't be able to break the loop. She could have let her past self run around and go to the platform or at least not do the same things she saw doing herself the first time. The only reason she does this seems to be to get her character back to the city and advance the plot. Though to be fair, in the end it's not clear if even the Golden Ending of the ship loop would really be a game-changer, as the triggers of the big overall loop seem to lie elsewhere and Jess would probably eventually lose the memory of that solution anyway.
  • Impending Doom P.O.V. : Some shots on board the Aeolus are done this way, presenting the POV of Jess secretly observing the other passengers.
  • Inexplicable Cornered Escape : Happens when Sally is chased by "Mean" Jess across the Ghost Ship . At one point the camera is focused on Sally leaning against a wall, panting. Then the camera pans around to show Jess arriving at the same location a few seconds later. The camera pans back to where Sally was standing seconds ago... but she's gone.
  • In Medias Res : It quickly becomes clear that the cast arrived in the middle of the loops on the ship. But not until the ending do we realize that the entire movie from even before the ship scenes is actually this.
  • Ironic Hell : Everything Mean Jess has tried to do to get back to her son (killing her friends being one of them) has led to her being directly responsible for his death, starting the sequence all over again.
  • It Was Here, I Swear! : When Jess wants to prove her point and show Victor the body of Downey floating in the water, it is gone.
  • Jumping Off the Slippery Slope : Jess becomes progressively violent as she becomes more and more desperate to end the loop. It's implied that Mean Jess is just a more extreme case of the same condition.
  • Kill and Replace : After escaping the time loop, Mean Jess does this to herself, with the intention of being a better mother to her son, and (presumably) avoid the events leading up to the time loop. Unfortunately, the time loop still repeats with a dose of amnesia after her actions get her son killed.
  • The Killer in Me : Remarkable how the film blends together Amnesiac and Secretive varieties of this trope. When Jess boards the Triangle, she knows she is gonna kill the other crew members at some point and actually intends to do it . Soon after, however, she suffers from Laser-Guided Amnesia and forgets all about her intentions - only to gradually come again to the conclusion that she will need to kill them, all while her other version (which may or may not have gone through an Amnesia Loop of her own) is already doing just that. Upon killing everybody and then going through some other things, she eventually boards the Triangle again , again intending to kill the crew - only to then again forget all about it, etc., etc. Yes, it's that confusing.
  • Lost in Transmission : Sally 's Distress Call received by Greg on the Triangle cuts off before any vital information can be exchanged.
  • Made of Plasticine : In the midst of trying to convince Victor that they keep dying and coming back to start everything all over again, Jess accidentally mortally wounds him by pushing him into one of the pointed hangers attached to the wall, which appears to puncture his skull to the point that brains fall out of the hole .
  • Make It Look Like an Accident : Happens unintentionally. By virtue of the car crash, the corpse in the trunk turns from murder victim into casualty. An equally plausible reading is that Jess actually died in that car crash, and the "surviving Jess" is really her disembodied soul in the hell/purgatory where the entire movie takes place.
  • Malevolent Masked Man : The passengers are attacked by a murderous psychopath hiding their face and identity behind a burlap sack mask. It's a future iteration of Jess.
  • Mama Bear : To save her son Jess is willing to kill her best friend and everyone else on the yacht. And when she comes across a third Jess mistreating him she murders her . However, it's left very ambiguous by the revelation that Jess had actually abused her son already, suggesting that she hates herself for it but can't stop.
  • The Matchmaker : Sally is not too subtly trying to be this for her single friends Greg and Heather. Greg is rather frustrated with the idea, and points out later that Sally keeps trying to bring him an eligible girl "every year". This subplot is dropped very quickly though, for the obvious reason that the supposed match literally disappears early on .
  • Meaningful Echo : Towards the end, once Jess exits the car, she suddenly hears that the marching band is playing "Anchors Aweigh" - same track as the one played on "Aeolus"... The Wham Shot comes right after.
  • Meaningful Name : The name of the ship, Aeolus, refers to a mythological Greek figure whose son, Sisyphus, was doomed by the gods to roll a boulder uphill for all eternity, where each time he reaches the summit the rock rolls over him and then back down again.
  • Mind Screw : You're gonna need multiple viewings to actually get everything, and even then you'll either be confused, thinking there's gonna be a sequel or that a sequel is impossible.
  • Minimalist Cast : The bulk of the story is told using five characters.
  • Missed Him by That Much : Jess and later Sally successfully hide from Mean Jess behind one of the many corners on the ship's maze of corridors .
  • Narnia Time : Subverted. Jess ends up back home where her son is still painting, but she's actually still stuck in the time loop.
  • No OSHA Compliance : The sharp hook for rescue rings installed at head level. This ends up being Victor's undoing.
  • Nothing Is Scarier : Whatever happened to the original crew and passengers of the Aeolus is never explained. For all intents and purposes, a fully stocked but deserted cruise ship appears out of nowhere, and traps the protagonist in a "Groundhog Day" Loop .
  • Ominous Visual Glitch : In the scene where Jess listens to the broken record on the ship, the screen jitters in sync with the record needle jumping back and forth.
  • One-Woman Wail : During the dramatic confrontation at the ballroom between rifle-armed Jess 2 and at her gunpoint Jess 1 .
  • One-Word Title : As the yacht is named "Triangle".
  • Once More, with Clarity : The opening scene shows several brief snippets of Jess's morning. We see this scene again toward the end of the film, and it becomes clear that the parts that were skipped over were Jess verbally and physically abusing her son - as well as that the snippets actually refer to two different versions of Jess and not to one and the same one throughout.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping : The movie features an entirely Australian and New Zealander cast trying their damnedest to sound like Americans. During the calmer scenes it almost works, but it becomes completely obvious the second a character feels the slightest pangs of emotion.
  • Our Slashers Are Different : Sure, there's a Sackhead Slasher killing people off in a Closed Circle . But it's actually Jess herself, who is trying to return to her son and/or punish herself for abusing and ultimately killing her son, depending on your perspective.
  • Perpetual Frowner : Jess. She very, very rarely smiles, and when she does, it seems to be forced rather than a genuine smile.
  • Poor Communication Kills : Part of it is due to the perfectly understandable case of Cassandra Truth , but still Jess never tries to fully explain or even demonstrate to her friends that there's a "Groundhog Day" Loop and that's why there's multiple Jess' running around. As a result, they're not sure if she's trying to help them or save them a couple of times and they think she's got some sort of split personality or is at the very least, crazy (which may be true, but for different reasons) and thus refuse to listen to her when she's trying to help them. Her plans as to her friends undergo a radical change after a couple of loops though .
  • Precision F-Strike : Jess employs the F word several times during her The Reason You Suck speech directed to her son Tommy after he spills the paint.
  • Protagonist Journey to Villain : Jess' journey from Damsel in Distress to Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds . Only the journey seems to have actually first happened a good many loops before the beginning of the movie...
  • Punk in the Trunk : Original Jess's corpse in the trunk of the car, which soon after becomes an accidental crash victim.
  • Reset Button : Killing the other passengers is a sort of this. Probably.
  • Rewatch Bonus : Jess's strange behaviour in the beginning of the movie - especially her apologizing to Greg - makes much more sense in hindsight.
  • Riddle for the Ages : The second Jess got a totally different story which may or may not have influenced the first Jess to become the masked killer of her own story which can either be a Plot Hole for the sake of the story or Riddle for the Ages for a sequel.
  • Sackhead Slasher : Jess and her friends are stalked and murdered by a mysterious person wearing a burlap sack mask. The killer is an iteration of Jess at a different point in the loop concealing her identity from herself and friends.
  • Safe Behind the Corner : On the boat, Jess is looking for Sally who hides behind a corner, but Jess stops in her tracks and turns around before reaching said corner.
  • Samus Is a Girl : The masked slasher is actually Jess, a woman.
  • Sanity Slippage : Jess experiences this over the course of events on the Ghost Ship . One might be hard-pressed to determine whether and when she ever was "sane" to begin with though...
  • Set Right What Once Went Wrong : This is what Jess tries to do, but she only creates another timeline which we don't see completely in the movie. More generally, in the end it turns out that this is what kept, keeps and will keep the plot as a whole in motion to begin with.
  • According to the commentary, the killer wearing a sack as a mask is a Shout-Out to Friday the 13th Part 2 , in which Jason Voorhees wears a pillow case over his head prior to the iconic hockey mask.
  • The film makes many oblique references to The Shining . As seen several times through the film, there is a message written in blood on the mirror of room 237. The Aeolus is deserted as was the hotel. We see a ballroom and an ax at work.
  • There is a seagull which constantly follows Jess around, and which she is revealed to have killed in a traffic accident prior to the sailing trip . Per the director, this is an allusion to The Rime of the Ancient Mariner . The seagull is a stand-in for the albatross which the mariner killed, the event which set off his curse.
  • Another allusion to the tale of Ancient Mariner is the weather pattern of the sailing trip of the Triangle . Following the death of the albatross, the fair breeze blows and all seems right. Until they realize that the breeze led them to uncharted waters, and then that breeze fades to dead calm, trapping the ship of the Mariner.
  • The Mariner and his companions also met a ghost ship in the poem. A ship with only a deathly-pale woman and Death as its only passengers. Notice how pale Jess looks for much of the film. As for the description of the woman in the poem: " And is that Woman all her [ghost ship's] crew?/Is that a DEATH? and are there two?/Is DEATH that woman's mate?/Her lips were red, her looks were free,/Her locks were yellow as gold:/Her skin was as white as leprosy,/The Night-Mare LIFE-IN-DEATH was she,/Who thicks man's blood with cold. "
  • The music in the record that Jess listens to is a rendition of Anchors Aweigh by Glenn Miller and his band. Miller famously disappeared while flying over the English Channel in 1944, and the music is probably an allusion to the fact that Jess and her companions are not about to return.
  • The original Sisyphus , who Jess seems to imitate, is said in the film to have cheated death, though the characters fail to remember how. While there are several versions of his myth, there is one where he broke a promise to the death gods. His family failed to offer him proper funeral rights, and he convinced the death gods to offer him a second lease at life in order to prepare his own funeral. He promised to voluntarily return to the Underworld and then failed to do so. In Triangle, there is a sign which says Goodbye, Please Return and Jess later promises the cab driver (a ferryman like Charon?) that she will come back to him and pay for her ride. Which she doesn't actually intend to do.
  • Slashed Throat : Downey, in the second time loop. This doesn't kill him straight away, and he ends up being stabbed repeatedly by Jess. He lives long enough to attempt to scrawl the name of his killer in his own blood , but dies partway through.
  • Soft Glass : Played absolutely straight, even if there is just no way for Vic to break through the plexiglass with nothing more than the weight of his body - he would sooner get few bruises and bounce off than smash it. It's used on sailboats precisely due to the durability against blunt impact and general resistance. It exists solely to fill the yacht with water.
  • Spoiler Cover : One of the most widespread posters subtly hints Jess is the masked killer by simply putting a mirror image in a poodle of blood. By itself it affects nothing, but quickly turns into a massive suggestion during the movie . But absolutely nothing beats one of the posters used on leaflets that consists of exhausted and bloodied Sally sitting right next to entire pile of mutilated Sallies, some of them already decomposing, with word "Triangle" written at the bottom .
  • Stable Time Loop : Jess comes to the harbor looking dazed and eventually ends up being on the mysterious ship and throws a masked killer overboard. She realizes the "Groundhog Day" Loop of the events on the ship and tries to break the chain by killing herself becoming the masked killer and getting thrown overboard. She drifts back to the shore where she is able to hitchhike back home seeing herself with her son. She kills her other self and wants to dispose of the body which results in a car accident killing her son. She gets on a taxi to go to the harbor. She comes to the harbor looking dazed and eventually ends up being on the mysterious boat, etc. etc. etc. Note that the time loops on the ship are not always stable, but in the end that matters little because the main, overarching loop is .
  • Stopped Clock : The clocks on board the ship are stuck at 8:17 a.m. signifying the time of the car accident. Same goes for Jess's wrist watch.
  • Temporal Suicide : The movie involves various versions of Jess killing the other versions .
  • Throwing Your Gun at the Enemy : Mean Jess throws her shotgun at Jess when she runs out of ammunition.
  • Took a Level in Badass : Mean Jess , having gone through an Heroic BSoD and subsequent Face–Heel Turn , becoming a Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds .
  • Trunk Shot : Shot on Jess's face from within the trunk of her car where she loads the corpse .
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension : Jess and Greg, though exactly how sexual it is could be up to debate.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom : At one point Greg mentions that he decided to invite Jess to the sailing trip on an impulse. The previously smiling Jess stares at him and then adopts a sullen expression. One view of this scene is that she just realized that Greg and his impulse unwittingly set off the events leading to the time loop and all the carnage involved - though she should have already lost those memories by that time.
  • Vehicle Title : Triangle is the name of Greg's yacht. It's also a not-so-subtle allusion to this place .
  • Villain Protagonist : From one point of view, anyway.
  • We Hardly Knew Ye : Due to the time loop, viewers meet several versions of each main character except Heather, who is lost at sea before the main events begin. She is only there for the introductory scenes.
  • Wham Shot : It seems like Jess finally broke the loop and is driving away with her son. Then, suddenly, a seagull flies into the windscreen, dying instantly. A shaken Jess leaves the car and goes to dispose of the body on the beach... Then Jess sees the pile of seagull corpses, and realizes this isn't the first time she's done this . The movie rushes to its Downer Ending right after.
  • White Shirt of Death : Both Greg and Downey sport white shirts which later get drenched in blood.
  • What Happened to the Mouse? ; What happened to Heather after their ship capsized? Other than the surviving suspecting she survived, got on the cruise, and dropped her keys (which was done by Jess by the way), we never know whether she survived, died, or became part of the time anomaly.
  • Why Don't You Just Shoot Him? : Justified. Mean Jess hesitates to pull the trigger on her other self on the deck. Naturally, this leads to the other Jess escaping the assault.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain : On a rewatch we suddenly realize that the entire movie up to the Wham Shot is this.

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Sally chased by "mean" jess.

At one point during the chase scene on the Ghost Boat, the camera is focused on Sally leaning against a wall, panting. Then the camera pans around to show Jess arriving at the same location a few seconds later. The camera pans back to where Sally was standing a second ago... but she's gone.

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11,241--> Report

movie cruise ship time loop

The Cinemaholic

15 Best Time Loop Movies of All Time

 of 15 Best Time Loop Movies of All Time

Time loop movies are extremely interesting. They pose a very curious scenarios that often lead to confusing situations. As an audience, you enjoy that chaos and complexity when characters are caught in the middle of a never ending time loop where the day just keeps repeating itself. You end up wondering: What would you do if you got stuck in a loop, and starting to live the same day over an over again? Surely, it will one hell of a ride. Here is a list of top time loop movies ever. You can watch some of these best time loop movies on Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime.

15. Before I Fall (2017)

movie cruise ship time loop

A teenage girl, Samantha Kingston (Zoey Deutch) is involved in a fatal car crash, along with her friends on Cupid’s Day (February 12). But a day later she realizes that she is stuck in a time loop, reliving the day of her death again and again. Before I Fall is a well-acted adaptation of Lauren Oliver’s novel, exploring the sci-fi/time-loop genre with a fresh and distinctive perspective. It inspires how can one make their second chances count, and the story-telling is backed by a strong performance from emerging star, Zoey Deutch. This coming-of-age drama though gets derivative sometimes but is quite effective as well and thus it’s worth a watch.

Read More:  Best PG-13 Movies of All Time

14. Blood Punch (2013)

movie cruise ship time loop

Milton (Milo Cawthorne) runs from a rehab center with Skyler (Olivia Tennet) for a money making drug score. But when he is lured into an isolated cabin along with her psychotic boyfriend, he finds out that the trio is reliving the same day independently. Now, it seems like a love triangle gone badly, stories like you have watched a hundred times, but it isn’t.  Filled with exuberant twist and surprises, Blood Punch is an incredibly smart piece of cinematic art, unraveling the story in a conventional but exciting manner trapping the audience with the characters. Unexpectedly, this debut feature of director Madellaine Paxson come along out of nowhere to a successful mixture of mystery and horror blended with the concept of time-loop.

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13. ARQ (2016)

movie cruise ship time loop

In a post-apocalyptic future, an engineer, Renton (Robbie Amell), faces a home invasion by three masked intruders. When he accidentally breaks his neck while escaping, he wakes up again, eventually finding out, that his invention has caused the time to loop, and the day is repeating itself. He must protect his invention, ARQ, that could deliver unlimited energy and time and could end the wars that have consumed the world.

‘ARQ’ is a low-budget venture of director Tony Elliott (who directed episodes of ‘Orphan Black’) which, makes an impressive use of its limited resources. Backed by Amell’s fairly-acted performance, this tricky sci-fi thriller does a great job in adding many folds and twists in the story-line and then enclosing all of them at the climax. The movie, despite the low budget, remains captivating throughout and does not distract at all. An enjoyable viewing, ‘ARQ’ is recommended on all accounts.

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12. Happy Death Day (2017)

movie cruise ship time loop

While going to a party on her birthday, Tree (Jessica Rothe), a spoiled brat, is lured into a tunnel and murdered by a mysterious masked man. Upon her death, she wakes up in a classmate, Carter’s (Israel Broussard) room. When she has killed again the next day, she realizes she is reliving her “death day” again and again and sets out to find the killer.

A slasher/horror film, ‘Happy Death Day’, to be honest, is not a serious, horrifying and violent movie, which is the best thing about it. It’s rather more of a fun experience which I would definitely vouch for. No, out of the world entity or gruesome murders, still, “Happy Death Day is an interesting story, that connects all its sub-plots in a way, I’d describe as a  really interesting and enjoyable watch. With a slight romantic touch, the movie is a must-watch entertainer, who critics called ” a modern-day mixture of ‘Groundhog Day’ and ‘Scream’.”

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11. 12:01 (1993)

movie cruise ship time loop

A jaded employee, when involved in an electric shock accident, is surprisingly stuck in a time loop, that forces him to relive his worst day over and over. Released in the same year as ‘Groundhog Day’ (which I’ll later come to), ’12:01′ was highly overshadowed despite having an exciting storyline. A sci-fi romantic drama, ’12:01′ is worth remembering, whenever the sub-genre of time-loop is in the discussion. A well-written screenplay brought to life by a worthy performance by Jonathan Silverman, ’12:01′ is something you will be willing to watch again sometime after you’ve watched it once.

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10. Haunter (2013)

movie cruise ship time loop

A teenage girl (Abigail Breslin), is stuck in a time loop with her family since the day they all were murdered in 1985, the fact that only she realizes. But, when connected to another girl living in present times, she seeks her help to find the murderer and end the loop once and for all

The concept of time-loop, adjunct with a supernatural horror thriller movie, is what makes ‘Haunter’ unique in its own way. Though it has an interesting plot, the movie, however, fails to scare or keep the interest up until the end. But, at last, despite”not so good” acting and direction, it’s a worth watch as it gets you scratching and crackling your heads to figure out what’s going on. My advice- you won’t be disappointed.

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9. Repeaters (2010)

movie cruise ship time loop

A trio trying to get rid of their addiction at a rehab center is stuck in a time-loop after a storm hits them in the middle of the night. As the day repeats itself, they try to make amends in their life, but soon everything starts going sideways. Although a critical failure, ‘Repeaters’, despite not having a star cast, doesn’t fail to create a buzz in your head with its gritty, mind-bending plot. A story of the redemption of three youths, ‘Repeaters’, I’d say is good enough to get the job done.

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8. Mine Games (2012)

movie cruise ship time loop

Seven friends, staying at a remote cabin, discover an abandoned mine nearby and decides to explore it. The tide turns against them when they find something really strange and incomprehensible is haunting them down there, “Themselves”. For the year 2012, another cabin in a woods movie along with a bunch of young holidaymakers stuck in some horrific abandoned facility was not at all unique or new. So, here we throw originality out the window; thus, the film bombed on a critical measure, big time. The plot details are kind of inspired by various movies of this genre (a few are on the list), so it becomes predictable after a point.

But, despite a very low production budget, ‘Mine Games’ succeed in creating a sense of panic and build up the mystery for most of its running time. My suggestion, give it a try before any of the movies on the list, you might as well enjoy it.

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7. Primer (2004)

movie cruise ship time loop

A story of two friends, who accidentally invent the machine that enables them to time travel, ‘Primer’, is the most mind-fucked movie ever made. Primer isn’t a traditional movie experience, but something that you might not have ever seen before. A completely confusing storyline, which when finally unfolds by the end, you are left more confused than when you started. Written, Directed and Produced by Shane Carruth, ‘Primer’ is little gem of a movie.  You might have to watch it more than twice to get full grasp of what is actually going on. As Esquire magazine quotes, “anybody who claims he fully understands what’s going on in Primer after seeing it just once is either a savant or a liar.”

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6. Triangle (2009)

movie cruise ship time loop

Jess (Melissa George), a single mother, goes on a boating trip with some friends. When they are forced to abandon their boat due to a storm, they board a derelict ocean liner in order to get to safety. And…..(Plot details of this one has to be kept a secret)

The psychological-horror feature is a “repeatedly” twisting and terrifying story that is very engaging in somewhat a thrilling sort of way. This is a must-watch for any movie-buff, not only because of its amazing story-line and the way it unfolds; but also for the fearless and incredible performance by Melissa George. It’s very confusing and puzzling, whether how one should talk about the movie without giving away anything, but certainly, this is worth a huge applaud.

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5. Source Code (2011)

movie cruise ship time loop

U.S. Army Captain Colter Stevens (Jake Gyllenhaal  is sent into past within a computed reality again and again in order to stop a bomber who seeks to kill hundreds. Marketed action thriller, ‘Source Code’ is actually an exciting and impressive cinematic work in the science-fiction genre, which unfolds in a fairly intellectual way; all thanks to director Duncan Jones, who previously directed ‘Moon’ (2009). Co-starring Michelle Monaghan, ‘Source Code’ is an enthralling mind game, which will give you no room to blink.

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4. Timecrimes (2007)

movie cruise ship time loop

Many would argue why “Timecrimes’ is No. 4 on the list, while ‘Triangle’ and ‘Source Code’ lies behind this. For ones who haven’t watched this film, I suggest, you drop any season or movie you’re watching and give this a try. A Spanish-language sci-fi thriller from director Nacho Vigalondo (who later directed ‘Colossal’ in 2016),  ‘ Los Cronocrímenes’ is the story of Hector, a man trying to evade a killer by traveling back in time. ‘Timecrimes’ is one of the “not made in Hollywood” movies that proves there’s no need for a star cast to get the job done. A strong competitor to Shane Carruth’s ‘Primer’, this Spanish thriller is full of paradoxes and mysteries that you’d never be able to predict where the story will go, right up until the end.

With an 88% rating at review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, ‘Timecrimes’ is highly recommended, and it will surely leave you amazed, despite the low budget on special effects and overall production. You’d want to download subtitles for watching this though…

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3. Edge of Tomorrow (2014)

movie cruise ship time loop

Firstly, it’s a Tom Cruise movie, and then it stars him doing what he does best; action and kill. Set in future, where Earth faces an alien invasion, Major William Cage (Cruise), a PR Officer with no combat experience, is forced to battle in a landing operation against the enemy. However, when Cage dies on the battlefield, he is sent back in time to the day preceding the battle, trapping him into a time loop. He then teams up with S.F. Officer Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt) and learns combat skills while finding a way to stop the extra-terrestrial threat.

What this movie specifically proves is that Cruise has still got it in him. The film’s time reset concept is unique and different from other movies of this genre. It is an enticing thriller, featuring a really well-executed direction by Doug Liman and cleverly crafted screenplay along with power-packed performances by lead actors Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt as well as Bill Paxton and Brendon Gleeson. Watch Cruise dying again and again and again and pull off the script, thus saving the day.

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2. Predestination (2014)

movie cruise ship time loop

In a world where a bureau uses time travel to stop crime, a cop tries to catch (and kill) a notorious terrorist who goes by the name “fizzle bomber”. There aren’t enough words, reviews, and opinions that can describe the greatness of ‘Predestination’. There are instances where great movies aren’t given the deserving recognition and ‘Predestination’ is one of them. The movie takes the turns in the most unexpected ways and that too till the very last scene. Starring Ethan Hawke in his one of the finest performances, the more admirable role was of Sarah Snook, who steals the show in many of the major sequences.

A classic sci-fi, backed by a creative directorial work and a wonderfully written screenplay. Without going into plot details, I strongly recommend watching this amazing feature ASAP if you haven’t. And if you already have, you know it’s a worth watch again.

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1. Groundhog Day (1993)

movie cruise ship time loop

It’s an arguable question that, why ‘Groundhog Day’ lies at the No. 1 spot on this list? One of the very first movies based on this concept, ‘Groundhog Day’ revolves around Phil Conners (Bill Murray), an arrogant weather reporter, who is forced to relive the same day over an over, trapping him in a place he hates for the entirety.

‘Groundhog Day’ is an inspirational tale of a man, caught in a time loop, trying to re-examine his life and changing himself into a better being. Bill Murray delivers a fine performance as the protagonist and turns Phil Conners into a role model for any viewer. What makes this film unique is it’s smooth and light story-telling. There are no action sequences, thrill, and mystery, but only a man who lives the same day over and over, trying to make amends daily as he has all the time in the world. ‘Groundhog Day’, throughout the years, has become a basis of comparison for all time-loop movies, which are praised to relive the concept which this film established years ago. For anyone who is willing to try a simple and sober movie and get excited at the same time, this is the film for them.

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The 50+ Best Time Loop Movies

The 50+ Best Time Loop Movies

Ranker Film

Welcome to our expertly curated list of the most fascinating time loop movies that have captivated audiences and critics alike. These films represent a unique genre that serves as a playground for daring and imaginative storytelling. From mind-bending thrillers to thought-provoking drama, and even heartwarming comedies, these cinematic treasures about time loops provide a relatable sense of déjà vu, often leaving us pondering over the eternal human dilemma: If given a chance, what would we change in our past?

The beauty of time loop movies lies in their versatile narrative. They allow us to explore the mystery of time and fate through the characters' repeated experiences. These films invite us into a labyrinth of recurring events, where protagonists learn, adapt, and attempt to alter the outcome, providing a fascinating viewing experience.

Our list features a wide range of classics and what are set to become new classics. From movies like the critically acclaimed Edge Of Tomorrow , the hilarious Palm Springs , to enduring classics like Groundhog Day , these films each tell compelling stories that provoke thought and emotion in their exploration of the time loop phenomenon. And to sweeten the deal, we've packed the list with a host of time loop films that you can find on streaming platforms, allowing you to dive in instantly.

With each film on the list, we provide relevant details about the cast, plot, and how popular it is in the form of votes. Furthermore, we offer direct links for you to watch these amazing movies about time loops on an assortment of streaming platforms. Netflix, Disney+, HBO Max, Amazon Prime, Hulu, and Paramount+ are all included so that you can start streaming these time loop tales right away and just in the order you prefer.

We invite you to explore this list, indulge in these thought-provoking films, and immerse yourself in the diverse world of time loop storytelling. Remember to vote up your favorite films, sharing your love for these intriguing tales with the community. These unforgettable narratives await your discovery, so grab that popcorn and prepare for a wondrous journey through time.

Groundhog Day

Groundhog Day

This iconic comedy stars Bill Murray as a cynical weatherman who inexplicably becomes trapped in an endless cycle of reliving the same day over and over again. Throughout the film, audiences watch as the protagonist confronts the monotony and frustration of his endless existence, eventually learning valuable lessons about life, love, and self-improvement. The film expertly weaves humor with existential musings, leaving viewers contemplating the significance of one's actions and personal growth.

  • # 71 of 769 on The Most Rewatchable Movies
  • # 34 of 703 on The All-Time Greatest Comedy Films
  • # 18 of 379 on The Best Movies Of The 1990s

Edge Of Tomorrow

Edge Of Tomorrow

In this thrilling sci-fi adaptation of the Japanese novel All You Need Is Kill , an inexperienced public affairs officer finds himself caught in a cycle of dying and resurrecting while combating alien invaders. With the help of a seasoned war hero, they attempt to unravel the mystery behind his newfound ability and determine how to use it to their advantage. As they grow closer in their efforts, the characters grapple with the implications of this phenomenon and whether it may hold the key to humanity's salvation.

  • # 136 of 264 on The 200+ Best War Movies Of All Time
  • # 8 of 178 on The 150+ Best Movies With Aliens
  • # 24 of 166 on The 150+ Best Futuristic Dystopian Movies

Palm Springs

Palm Springs

This fresh and inventive romantic comedy follows two strangers who meet at a wedding and become involuntarily entwined within a mysterious and seemingly infinite time loop. As the protagonists come to terms with their shared predicament, they develop a strong bond and navigate the challenges of an existence without consequences. The film provides a unique exploration of human relationships and the importance of finding meaning in one's life, regardless of the circumstances.

  • Dig Deeper... 20 Reactions To 'Palm Springs' That Threw Us Through A Loop
  • # 512 of 703 on The All-Time Greatest Comedy Films
  • # 10 of 46 on 50+ Quirky Romance Movies With Unique Love Stories

12 Monkeys

This dystopian sci-fi masterpiece tells the story of a convict sent back in time to gather information about an apocalyptic virus, which leads him to cross paths with various eccentric characters in his quest for the truth. The film's intricate narrative and complex character relationships delve deep into themes of fate, causality, and identity. Its powerhouse performances and haunting imagery captivate audiences while they're left pondering the consequences of the protagonist's actions on both past and future events.

  • Dig Deeper... Behind-The-Scenes Stories From '12 Monkeys'
  • # 26 of 252 on The 200+ Best Psychological Thrillers Of All Time
  • # 12 of 166 on The 150+ Best Futuristic Dystopian Movies

Source Code

Source Code

In this gripping sci-fi thriller, a soldier participates in an experimental program using his consciousness, which is repeatedly sent back in time for eight minutes to discover the perpetrator of a deadly train attack. Each iteration of his journey reveals new clues, but also further complicates the truth of his mission and identity. The film's tense pacing and clever twist-filled narrative keep viewers on the edge of their seats while pondering the nature of reality and the morality of sacrificing one life to save many others.

  • # 134 of 252 on The 200+ Best Psychological Thrillers Of All Time
  • # 112 of 176 on The Best Science Fiction Action Movies
  • # 23 of 48 on The Best Train Movies


Set in a futuristic world where time travel is possible but illegal, this action-packed thriller introduces hitmen called "loopers," who eliminate targets sent back in time by organized crime syndicates. When the protagonist is ordered to kill his older self, a harrowing game of cat-and-mouse ensues, leading to shocking revelations about fate and the power of choice. The film's innovative premise, compelling performances, and visceral action sequences make it an unforgettable addition to the genre.

  • # 53 of 166 on The 150+ Best Futuristic Dystopian Movies
  • # 348 of 769 on The Most Rewatchable Movies
  • # 87 of 176 on The Best Science Fiction Action Movies

About Time

Blending romance and fantasy, this charming British film centers around a young man who discovers he possesses the ability to travel back in time and alter events, a gift he initially uses to improve his love life. However, as he manipulates his experiences, he begins to understand the butterfly effect and the importance of accepting life's imperfections. The film's tender narrative and emotional depth offer a touching exploration of love, loss, and personal growth within a fantastical framework.

  • # 54 of 136 on The 100+ Best Movies For Date Night
  • # 42 of 46 on 50+ Quirky Romance Movies With Unique Love Stories
  • # 107 of 472 on The 400+ Best Chick Flicks Ever

Happy Death Day

Happy Death Day

Injecting new life into the horror genre, this film follows a self-absorbed college student who becomes trapped in an unyielding cycle of reliving her murder until she can identify and stop her killer. As the protagonist endures each gruesome demise, she learns valuable lessons about herself and those around her. The film expertly balances moments of genuine terror with dark humor, resulting in a uniquely gripping and thought-provoking experience.

  • # 12 of 80 on The Best Teen Horror Movies Of All Time
  • # 10 of 20 on Horror Movies That Originally Had Much Darker Endings
  • # 45 of 71 on The 70 Best College Movies



This thought-provoking sci-fi drama follows a time-traveling agent tasked with stopping a terrorist known as the "Fizzle Bomber," and the shocking revelations that unfold throughout his mission. The film deftly weaves a complex narrative, exploring themes of fate, identity, and the consequences of our choices. Its intricate storyline and superb performances make it a standout within the genre.

  • # 176 of 252 on The 200+ Best Psychological Thrillers Of All Time
  • # 104 of 166 on The 150+ Best Futuristic Dystopian Movies
  • # 11 of 69 on The Most Confusing Movies Ever Made


This psychological horror film follows a group of friends who become stranded on an abandoned ship, where they are pursued by a masked figure and confronted with a chilling temporal anomaly. As the protagonist tries to escape the nightmare, she begins to uncover the disturbing truth behind their situation. The film's eerie atmosphere, tense pacing, and mind-bending twists keep viewers enthralled from start to finish.

  • # 5 of 26 on The Best Horror Movies About Time Travel
  • # 23 of 56 on The Best Vacation Horror Movies, Ranked By Fans
  • # 3 of 15 on Horror Movie Endings People Only Pretend To Understand


This action-packed sci-fi film stars Jean-Claude Van Damme as a law enforcement officer responsible for policing time-travelers, who must stop a corrupt politician from altering history for personal gain. Amidst the thrilling action sequences and special effects, the film explores themes of morality, power, and the consequences of tampering with time, offering a high-stakes adventure that keeps audiences engaged throughout.

  • # 332 of 379 on The Best Movies Of The 1990s
  • # 46 of 85 on The Best Movies Of 1994
  • # 59 of 99 on The Best 1990s Action Movies

Déjà Vu

In this heart-pounding thriller, an ATF agent uses revolutionary technology to travel back in time in order to prevent a devastating terrorist attack and save the woman he loves. The film's innovative premise and skillful blend of action, romance, and sci-fi elements create a captivating experience for viewers, who are left to ponder the intricate connections between past, present, and future.

  • # 14 of 49 on The 45+ Very Best Movies About Hackers
  • # 51 of 69 on The Most Confusing Movies Ever Made
  • # 16 of 101 on The Best Movies Of 2006

Doctor Strange

Doctor Strange

Marvel's foray into the world of mystic arts and cosmic forces introduces audiences to renowned neurosurgeon Stephen Strange, who embarks on a journey to master his newfound powers after a devastating accident. The film delves into the manipulation of time and space, showcasing visually stunning sequences and thought-provoking concepts about the nature of reality. It expertly balances special effects with emotional stakes, providing a fresh take on the superhero genre.

  • # 184 of 769 on The Most Rewatchable Movies
  • # 11 of 33 on The Best Movies In The Marvel Cinematic Universe, Ranked
  • # 18 of 185 on The Greatest Comic Book Movies Of All Time

Boss Level

This action-packed thrill ride follows a retired special forces operative who finds himself trapped in an infinite cycle of death and rebirth, hunted by an array of deadly assassins. As he fights for survival and seeks answers to his predicament, the protagonist uncovers a vast conspiracy with far-reaching implications. The film's breakneck pacing, intense action sequences, and dark humor make for a wild and entertaining experience that keeps viewers engaged from start to finish.


This Spanish thriller follows a man who accidentally travels back in time and inadvertently sets off a series of events with dangerous consequences. The film's expertly crafted narrative features mysterious figures, confounding twists, and a chilling exploration of the power of manipulation. Its simplistic style and minimalist approach make it an effective and engrossing entry in the genre.

  • # 8 of 26 on The Best Horror Movies About Time Travel
  • # 14 of 16 on The Most Underrated Sci-Fi Horror Movies Of The 2000s
  • # 6 of 17 on 17 Underrated Sci-Fi Movies About Time Travel

Run Lola Run

Run Lola Run

This German experimental thriller follows a young woman who is given 20 minutes to come up with a large sum of money to save her boyfriend's life, with the narrative cycling through multiple iterations of her attempt. Each version plays out differently depending on Lola's interactions with various characters, offering a fascinating exploration of fate, choice, and the butterfly effect. With its innovative structure and pulsating energy, the film is a groundbreaking and exhilarating take on the genre.

  • # 235 of 379 on The Best Movies Of The 1990s
  • # 40 of 98 on The Best Movies Of 1998, Ranked
  • # 99 of 425 on The Greatest Movies in World Cinema History

Happy Death Day 2U

Happy Death Day 2U

This inventive sequel picks up where the original left off, with the protagonist once again trapped in a repeating cycle of death but now forced to confront new challenges and even higher stakes. The film successfully expands upon the mythology established in the first installment, while maintaining its signature blend of horror, humor, and emotional depth. It offers a satisfying continuation of the story that will leave audiences questioning fate, identity, and the nature of second chances.

  • # 44 of 80 on The Best Teen Horror Movies Of All Time
  • # 46 of 117 on The Best Horror Movie Sequels
  • # 57 of 74 on Movies With The Most Hardcore Women

The Map of Tiny Perfect Things

The Map of Tiny Perfect Things

This charming coming-of-age film centers around two teenagers who find themselves stuck in an endless time loop, and together they embark on a quest to find all the perfect moments hidden within their repetitive day. As they grow closer and learn about each other's lives and regrets, the protagonists grapple with the meaning of happiness and how to embrace life's imperfections. The film's heartfelt storytelling and relatable characters offer a touching exploration of the human experience and the impact of shared memories.


In this mind-bending independent film, two engineers accidentally invent a device that allows limited time travel, and they quickly become obsessed with exploring its capabilities and consequences. The film's incredibly complex narrative is matched by its intelligent dialogue and challenging themes, providing an experience that continually rewards attentive viewers. It's a daring and thought-provoking take on the implications of tampering with time.

  • # 234 of 252 on The 200+ Best Psychological Thrillers Of All Time
  • # 4 of 69 on The Most Confusing Movies Ever Made
  • # 84 of 99 on The Best Movies Of 2004, Ranked

Before I Fall

Before I Fall

Based on the popular young adult novel, this emotional drama follows a high school student who becomes trapped in a repeating cycle of the last day of her life, forcing her to reconsider her choices and relationships. As she navigates through her seemingly endless existence, the protagonist learns valuable lessons about friendship, love, and the impact of her actions on those around her. The film presents a poignant exploration of the consequences of one's choices and the importance of personal growth.

  • # 8 of 15 on The Most Underrated Teen Movies Of The Decade
  • # 3 of 15 on The Best PG-13 Movies That Should Be R
  • # 6 of 50 on What to Watch If You Love 13 Reasons Why

Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban

Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban

In the third installment of the beloved fantasy series, young wizard Harry Potter discovers the Time-Turner, a magical device that can transport its user back in time to change past events. The film expertly utilizes this fantastical element to weave a thrilling tale of mystery, danger, and unexpected consequences, while exploring themes of loyalty, friendship, and the power of choice. It stands out for its engaging portrayal of time manipulation and the emotional stakes that come with it.

  • Dig Deeper... Things You Didn't Know About 'The Prisoner Of Azkaban' If You've Only Seen The Movie
  • And Deeper... Surprising Behind-The-Scenes Facts About ‘Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban’
  • # 17 of 21 on Muggles Are Sharing Unpopular 'Harry Potter' Opinions That Are Scandalous Enough For The Quibbler

The Endless

The Endless

In this ambitious sci-fi horror film, two brothers return to the cult they escaped from as children, only to become ensnared in a terrifying temporal anomaly. The film's eerie atmosphere, engrossing mystery, and challenging themes about the nature of free will and the power of belief make it a standout addition to the genre. Additionally, the film's connections to previous works by the filmmakers provide a rewarding experience for discerning viewers.

  • # 5 of 23 on The Best Cosmic Horror Movies That Will Warp Your Mind
  • # 9 of 10 on Fantastically Bizarre Horror Films Now Streaming On Netflix
  • # 8 of 12 on Underrated Quiet Horror Movies From 2000-Present That Trade In Thrills For Chills

Project Almanac

Project Almanac

In this found-footage sci-fi film, a group of high school friends discovers the blueprints for a time machine and decides to build it, only to discover the dire consequences of meddling with the past. Their repeated attempts to "fix" the timeline result in increasingly complex and devastating outcomes, offering an engaging examination of the butterfly effect and the moral implications of altering history. The film's unique format and believable performances make it a standout entry in the genre.

  • # 56 of 73 on The 65+ Best Found Footage Movies
  • # 20 of 21 on The Best Movies About Changing The Past
  • # 16 of 20 on The Best Movies About Seeing The Future

The Final Girls

The Final Girls

This innovative horror comedy centers around a group of friends who are accidentally transported into a classic slasher film and must survive its deadly villain by embracing the tropes and cliches of the genre. The film cleverly satirizes familiar horror conventions while offering its own unique twists and turns, providing a perfect blend of humor, scares, and heart. The end result is a delightful love letter to horror films that highlights the power of friendship and self-discovery.

  • # 43 of 80 on The Best Teen Horror Movies Of All Time
  • # 3 of 26 on The Best Horror Movies About Time Travel
  • # 14 of 15 on Feel-Good Horror Movies To Watch During Difficult Times

Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children

Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children

Based on the best-selling novel, this fantastical adventure follows a young boy who discovers a hidden world of children with extraordinary abilities, protected by a time loop that keeps them safe from the dangers of the outside world. As the protagonist learns about his own unique power and the value of found family, the film delves into themes of belonging, sacrifice, and embracing one's differences. Its captivating visuals and imaginative story make it a standout entry in the genre.

  • # 23 of 87 on The Best Film Adaptations Of Young Adult Novels
  • # 36 of 61 on The Best Coming of Age Movies About Boys
  • # 160 of 188 on The 180+ Top Kids Movies


This tense sci-fi thriller centers around an engineer and his partner, who are unexpectedly caught in a repeating time loop as they attempt to protect a groundbreaking energy device from a group of masked intruders. With each iteration, the protagonist uncovers new information that helps him refine his strategy for survival, while also revealing shocking truths about the world outside their isolated home. The film's claustrophobic setting and high-stakes action make for an intense and gripping viewing experience.

  • # 48 of 334 on The Best Netflix Original Movies Ever
  • # 41 of 64 on The Best Netflix Original Action Movies
  • # 5 of 37 on The 30+ Best Netflix Sci-Fi Movies

Mickey's Once Upon a Christmas

Mickey's Once Upon a Christmas

This delightful animated film weaves three classic holiday tales, one of which centers around Mickey Mouse and friends reliving an eventful Christmas day over and over again. As they experience the joys and challenges of their repeating festivities, the characters learn valuable lessons about gratitude, friendship, and the true meaning of the holiday season. This charming installment within the Disney canon offers a heartwarming and enjoyable viewing experience for audiences of all ages.

  • # 147 of 448 on The 400+ Best Animated Kids Movies
  • # 27 of 126 on The Best Christmas Movies Of All Time
  • # 71 of 478 on 475+ Movies And Shows With Christmas In The Title

The Girl Who Leapt Through Time

The Girl Who Leapt Through Time

In this acclaimed animated film, a high school girl gains the ability to time-travel and initially uses her newfound power for personal gain, only to discover the unintended consequences of her actions. As she attempts to rectify her mistakes, the protagonist learns about friendship, love, and the importance of living in the present moment. The film's thoughtful narrative and stunning visuals make it an unforgettable entry within the genre.

  • # 297 of 448 on The 400+ Best Animated Kids Movies
  • # 95 of 101 on The Best Movies Of 2006
  • # 27 of 66 on The Greatest Animated Sci Fi Movies

Futurama: Bender's Big Score

Futurama: Bender's Big Score

In this feature-length installment of the popular animated series , the Planet Express crew becomes entangled in a time-traveling adventure involving alien scammers, parallel timelines, and the sinister motives of everyone's favorite bending robot. As the tangled narrative unfolds, the film expertly blends humor, action, and emotion while exploring themes of loyalty, friendship, and the impact of our choices on the future. It's a worthy addition to the franchise that offers both familiarity and whimsical innovation.

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

Based on the popular video game series, this action-packed adventure film follows a resourceful prince who acquires a mystical dagger that grants him the power to manipulate time. As he battles enemies and uncovers hidden conspiracies, the protagonist must navigate the perils of altering the past while discovering the true value of loyalty, love, and heroism. The film's swashbuckling action, exotic locales, and compelling character dynamics make it an enjoyable romp that both fans and newcomers can appreciate.

  • # 63 of 82 on The 75+ Best Fairytale Movies
  • # 5 of 19 on Fans Are Sharing Their Favorite Movies That Were Panned By Critics
  • # 39 of 47 on The 45+ Best Swords and Sandals Movies
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Cinematic voyages: 20 unforgettable cruise ship movies.

Are you looking for inspiration to plan your first cruise ? Take a cinematic voyage with my pick of movies set on a cruise ship.

Not all of these cruise ship movies are masterpieces (although some are). A few are utter stinkers. However, each of them showcases aspects of life on the high seas.

Although I have indicated the availability of these films on Netflix and Amazon Prime there may be regional variations. Information here relates to the UK market in March 2024.

hull of norwegian epic cruise ship berthed in port

Some articles on this website contain affiliate links. This means that I may earn a small commission if you make a purchase through these links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases . Read the full disclosure here .


Classic Movies About Cruise Ships

Let’s start with the best movies about cruise ships, from films from Hollywood’s Golden Age to a science fiction classic.

Now, Voyager (1942)

Now, Voyager is not only one of the best movies set on a cruise ship but it is also one of my favourite films of all time. I blub like a baby each time I watch it.

Cowed by her domineering mother, middle-aged neurotic Boston heiress Charlotte Vale (a stupendous Bette Davis) takes a cruise after a restorative stay in a sanatorium. Whilst on board, she falls in love with the married Jerry (Paul Henreid).

The movie is famous for an iconic scene where Paul Henreid’s character lights two cigarettes and gives one to Bette Davis. 

A masterpiece of a movie.

  • Running time: 1 hour 57 minutes
  • Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 91%
  • Rotten Tomatoes audience score : 90%
  • Available for streaming on Amazon Prime here .

An Affair to Remember (1957)

This melodrama directed by Leo McCarey and starring Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr is considered to be one of the most romantic films of all time.

Playboy Nickie (Grant) and Terry (Kerr) fall in love on a transatlantic cruise to New York. Despite being engaged to other people, they agree to meet in six months at the top of the Empire State Building. But will all go to plan?

An Affair to Remember was introduced to a new generation of cinema-goers when it was featured in the 1993 movie Sleepless in Seattle .

  • Running time: 1 hour 55 minutes
  • Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 65%
  • Rotten Tomatoes audience score : 87%
  • Available for streaming on Amazon Prime here

Death on the Nile (1978)

Agatha Christie’s 1937 murder mystery has been adapted for the silver screen three times but the original film version is the best of the bunch (don’t go near Kenneth Branagh’s woeful 2022 remake).

Directed by John Guillermin, Death on the Nile was Peter Ustinov’s first appearance as Hercule Poirot and perhaps his best. Soon after Poirot boards a ship for a luxurious cruise down the Nile, a newlywed heiress is discovered murdered on board. Who is her murderer?

  • Running time: 2 hours 20 minutes
  • Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score : 78%
  • Rotten Tomatoes audience score : 79%

The Fifth Element (1997)

Welcome to a cruise ship of the future.

For my money, Luc Besson’s The Fifth Element is up there with the best science fiction movies of all time. Korben Dallas (Bruce Willis giving one of his finest performances) is a 23rd-century cab driver who is unwittingly pulled into a search for a mysterious fifth element that will prevent an apocalyptic event.

Much of the action in the final third of the movie takes place on Fhloston Paradise, a space cruise ship patronised by the rich and powerful. This superliner features twelve swimming pools with two VIP pools, dozens of high-end restaurants and a concert hall.

A glimpse of the future of cruising? Minus the giant fireball of course.

costume of large alien lifeform from the movie the fifth element

  • Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score : 91%
  • Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 90%

Disaster Movies Set on a Cruise Ship

The poseidon adventure (1972).

The 1970s was the decade for disaster movies featuring all-star ensemble casts and The Poseidon Adventure gets my vote as the best disaster film set on a cruise ship.

This multi-nominated movie – it went on to win two Oscars – centres on the ageing SS Poseidon on her final voyage from New York to Athens. After it is upended by a tsunami on New Year’s Day, it’s a race against time to bring the survivors to safety.

Spoiler alert; not many passengers make it.

  • Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 81%
  • Rotten Tomatoes audience score : 76%

Titanic (1997)

The Oscar-winning, multi-nominated Titanic is one of the highest-grossing films of all time. Directed by James Cameron and starring Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio, this epic movie about one of the most famous cruise ships in history is also one of the most expensive movies ever made.

The sinking of the Titanic is viewed through the lens of a fictional relationship across the social divide between Rose (Winslet), and Jack (DiCaprio).

  • Running time: 3 hours 15 minutes
  • Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 87%
  • Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 69%

A Night to Remember (1958)

Despite Titanic ’s many gongs, I far prefer this treatment of the sinking of the ill-fated cruise ship.

Filmed in a semi-documentary style, A Night to Remember sticks closely to the facts of the ship’s sinking, unimpeded by fictional sub-plots. This riveting film portrays the events of the fateful night of 15 th April 1912 from the perspective of the luxury liner’s second officer, Charles Lightoller (Kenneth More). 

  • Running time : 2 hours 3 minutes
  • Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 100%

Cruise Ship Movies to Make You Laugh

Monkey business (1931).

lobby card of monkey business one of the best cruise ship movies showing 3 of the marx brotheres

Monkey Business was the Marx Brothers’ third feature comedy and takes place on a cruise ship crossing the Atlantic to the USA.

Groucho, Harpo, Chico and Zeppo play four stowaways who are forced to work for a pair of feuding gangsters to evade capture by the ship’s crew. After the ship docks, the zany quartet become unlikely heroes when one of the gangsters kidnaps the other’s daughter.

  • Running time: 1 hour 18 minutes
  • Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 89%
  • Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 84%
  • Available for on DVD from Amazon Prime here

Out to Se a (1997)

Out to Sea is not Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon’s finest cinematic outing by any stretch of the imagination but it is a harmless bit of escapist fun.

Hunting for lonely women with hefty bank balances, Charlie (Matthau) coaxes his widower brother-in-law Herb (Lemmon) into working with him as a dance host on an all-expenses-paid luxury cruise. Under the watchful eye of the cruise director (played by Brent Spiner from Star Trek ), Charlie pursues wealthy socialite Liz (Dyan Cannon) and Herb unexpectedly falls for Vivian (Gloria DeHaven).

  • Running time: 1 hour 49 minutes
  • Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score : 36%
  • Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 52%

The Parent Trap (1998)

This romantic comedy directed and co-written by Nancy Meyers stars Lindsay Lohan playing the role of identical twins who discover their relationship when they are sent to the same summer camp. The twins then set to work trying to reunite their parents.

While much of The Parent Trap takes place on land, there are some scenes set aboard Cunard’s now-retired Queen Elizabeth 2 (they were actually filmed on  Queen Mary , which is docked in Long Beach, California).

  • Running time : 2 hours 7 minutes
  • Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 86%
  • Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 70%

Like Father (2018)

In this predictable rom-com, jilted bride Rachel (Kristen Bell) ends up on her honeymoon Caribbean cruise with her estranged father Harry (Kelsey Grammer).

Like Father is set aboard Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas , so lovingly filmed that it feels like an infomercial at times.

  • Running time: 1 hour 43 minutes
  • Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 46%
  • Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 47%
  • Available for streaming on Netflix

Carry on Cruising (1962)

Carry on films are a guilty pleasure for me. Cinematic masterpieces they are not but they are silly fun from a more innocent time.

Carry on Cruising is very much in this mould.

Sid James plays Wellington Crowther, the captain of SS Happy Wanderer, who is forced to replace five absent crew members at short notice. Not only are these the most incompetent shipmates to set foot on deck, but the passengers are no picnic.

  • Running time: 1 hour 29 minutes
  • Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: N/A
  • Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 51%

Musicals Set on Cruise Ships

Gentlemen prefer blondes (1953).

Shot in glorious Technicolor and featuring a razor-sharp screenplay, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes is one of the best musical comedies set on the seven seas.

Showgirl Lorelei Lee (Marilyn Monroe) sets sail for Paris with her friend Dorothy Shaw (Jane Russell), where she plans to marry her wealthy beau, Gus Esmond Jr. However, her plan is placed in jeopardy by the watchful eye of a private detective hired by Mr Esmund Sr. and by Lorelei’s love of diamonds.

  • Running time: 1 hour 31 minutes
  • Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 98%
  • Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 83%

Royal Wedding (1951)

screenshot showing fred astaire and jane powell in royal wedding one of the best movies set on a cruise sip

Do you fancy on-board entertainment Hollywood-style?

In the run-up to the wedding between the then Princess Elizabeth and Philip Mountbatten, an American brother-and-sister song-and-dance team Tom (Fred Astaire) and Ellen Bowen (Jane Powell) set sail for London. Then love intervenes for both siblings.

  • Running time: 1 hour 32 minutes
  • Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 92%

Shall We Dance? (1937)

Was there ever a more perfect recipe than Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers performing to the sublime music and lyrics by George and Ira Gershwin?

Set on a transatlantic sailing from Paris to New York, Shall We Dance? features Astaire as Pete “Petrov” Peters, a Russian ballet dancer, and Rogers as Linda Keene, a musical-comedy star. As a publicity stunt to prolong Linda’s career, her agent leaks to the press that the two performers are married. 

Will a fake marriage turn into the real thing?

This exhilarating musical features some of the greatest songs ever composed, including They Can’t Take That Away From Me and Let’s Call The Whole Thing Off.

  • Rotten Tomatoes audience score : 84%

Romance on the High Seas (1948)

Starring Doris Day in her film debut and choreographed by Busby Berkeley, Romance on the High Seas is a farce with romantic misunderstandings at its heart. Georgia Garret (Day) is a nightclub singer who is hired to assume the identity of a socialite, Elvira Kent, on a cruise to Rio de Janeiro to allow Kent to remain at home to spy on her suspected unfaithful husband,

Filming locations for Romance on the High Seas included Rio de Janeiro and Cartegena in Colombia.

  • Running time: 1 hour 39 minutes
  • Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 88%
  • Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 61%
  • Available to buy on Blu-Ray here

Dramatic Movies Set on a Cruise Ship

Ship of fools (1965).

This eclectic group of passengers on a cruise ship bound for pre-war Germany from Mexico represents a microcosm of 1930s society. Picking up eight Oscar nominations and directed by Stanley Kramer, Ship of Fools features a stellar ensemble cast including Vivien Leigh (in her final film role), Lee Marvin and George Segal.  

Although the action takes place almost entirely on an ocean liner, the movie was filmed on a soundstage at Paramount Studios.

  • Running time : 2 hours 29 minutes
  • Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 64%
  • Rotten Tomatoes audience score : 77%

Table for Five (1983)

In this poignant melodrama, divorced father J.P. Tannen (Jon Voight) takes his three children on a Mediterranean cruise in an attempt to reconnect with them. However, he quickly realises that this is not that easy and is faced with an impossible decision when he learns of a tragedy back home.

Partly filmed on MS Vistafjord (built for the now defunct Norwegian American Line ), shooting locations for Table for Five included Rome , Genoa, Haifa in Israel , Athens and Cairo and Alexandria in Egypt.

  • Running time: 2 hours 2 minutes
  • Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 67%
  • Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 59%
  • Not currently for streaming on Netflix or Amazon Prime or to buy on DVD or Blu-Ray

Speed 2 Cruise Control  (1997)

Keanu Reeves was wise to decline the lead role in this lame sequel to Speed . In his place, Jason Patric teamed up with Sandra Bullock as they battled to get all of the passengers on a Caribbean cruise to safety when disaster strikes.

Seabourn Legend was rented for six weeks to film the movies and its multiple filming locations were used including those in the USA, the Caribbean and France.

  • Running time: 2 hours 5 minutes
  • Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 4%
  • Rotten Tomatoes audience score : 16%

And the Award for the Worst Cruise Movie Ever Made Goes to …

Jack and jill (2011).

If you thought that Speed 2 Cruise Control  was bad, this is the cinematic turkey to beat all cinematic turkeys.

Improbably, Adam Sandler plays twins Jack and Jill who join their family on a cruise vacation. Jack and Jill is so unfunny and its plot so preposterous, that I don’t have the will to say any more about it.

This became the first film to sweep the board of the Razzies, winning in each category including Worst Picture, Worst Director, Worst Actor, Worst Actress, and Worst Screenplay. The cruise ship scenes were filmed aboard Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas .

  • Running time: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 3%
  • Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 36%

And that’s a wrap.

Whether you are looking for inspiration to plan a cruise or simply looking for recommendations for a sofa and popcorn night at home, I hope that this cruise ship movies list hits the spot.

Watch, dream and book that cruise.


  • Unmissable Movies Set in France on Netflix & Amazon Prime
  • Amazing Movies Set in Italy on Netflix & Amazon Prime 

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About Bridget

Bridget Coleman is a complete cinephile and has been a passionate traveller for more than 30 years. She has visited 70+ countries, most as a solo traveller.

Articles on this site reflect her first-hand experiences.

To get in touch, email her at [email protected] or follow her on social media.

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The 15 Best Time Loop Movies Like Groundhog Day

movie cruise ship time loop

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In the 1993 romantic comedy Groundhog Day , Bill Murray stars as a disgruntled reporter who repeats the mundane holiday over and over again until he overcomes his narcissistic ways.

Groundhog Day is now the most classic example of a time loop movie—so much so that "Groundhog Day" is officially defined in the Cambridge English Dictionary and MacMillan Dictionary as "a situation that happens repeatedly in exactly the same way."

In the years since, Hollywood has put all kinds of spins on the concept of characters stuck in a loop, repeating a specific period or flow of time. They begin at one point, do a bunch of stuff, but somehow end up back at the very beginning again.

Here are the best movies like Groundhog Day that are actually good and bring something new to the time loop movie subgenre.

15. Doctor Strange (2016)

movie cruise ship time loop

Directed by Scott Derrickson

Starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rachel McAdams

Action, Adventure, Fantasy (1h 55m)

7.5 on IMDb — 89% on RT

Doctor Strange is the origin story of Dr. Stephen Strange, a self-absorbed neurosurgeon who seeks out the Mystic Arts for healing... and in the process becomes a sorcerer.

Doctor Strange is an unusual character to include in the MCU, but Benedict Cumberbatch makes him work—so much so that Strange becomes a prominent presence in future MCU movies.

While Doctor Strange isn't a full time loop movie, there's one iconic sequence that fits the bill, so we're including it on the tail end of this list. Even so, the way the film plays with time will satisfy whatever time loop itch you're trying to scratch!

movie cruise ship time loop

14. The Map of Tiny Perfect Things (2021)

movie cruise ship time loop

Directed by Ian Samuels

Starring Kathryn Newton, Kyle Allen, Jermaine Harris

Comedy, Fantasy, Romance (1h 38m)

6.8 on IMDb — 77% on RT

The Map of Tiny Perfect Things explores the romantic side of time loops. Based on a short story by Lev Grossman, it follows a teenager named Mark (played by Kyle Allen) who's stuck in a time loop with another teen named Margaret (played by Kathryn Newton).

Seeing her staunch unwillingness to break the loop, they both work together to create a map to navigate their journey.

While The Map of Tiny Perfect Things leans very much on other time loop movies, the main leads have a unique charm and lovable chemistry that makes their journey rewarding up to its poignant ending.

movie cruise ship time loop

13. The Fare (2018)

movie cruise ship time loop

Directed by D.C. Hamilton

Starring Gino Anthony Pesi, Brinna Kelly, Jason Stuart

Fantasy, Mystery, Romance (1h 22m)

6.3 on IMDb — 100% on RT

As if taxi drivers don't already follow the same routes all over, what if a taxi driver was also stuck in a loop with the same passenger?

The Fare explores this possibility, centering on taxi driver Harris (played by Gino Anthony Pesi) who goes through a time loop when he resets the odometer and repeatedly picks up the same passenger.

At the beginning of the film, Harris hears of "time-traveling aliens" on the radio but he's left unfazed. What he isn't prepared for is a Twilight Zone of a night in which he has to recall past loops and care for his passenger. Haunting yet stirring, The Fare is a thrill ride.

movie cruise ship time loop

12. The Final Girls (2015)

movie cruise ship time loop

Directed by Todd Strauss-Schulson

Starring Taissa Farmiga, Malin Akerman, Adam Devine

Comedy, Fantasy, Horror (1h 31m)

6.5 on IMDb — 74% on RT

Slasher films and tropes are given a glorious homage in The Final Girls . This comedy horror follows teenager Max (played by Taissa Farmiga) who discovers that her mother once starred in a slasher film called Camp Bloodbath .

Due to unusual circumstances, she and her friends end up in that film, forcing them to learn about the movie all over in order to escape it.

Bloody good with its homages, parallels, and references to all the greatest slasher movie hits, The Final Girls knows its roots and lavishes in its excesses. There isn't a bone of cynicism for fans as the characters hilariously recall the basics of the slasher subgenre.

movie cruise ship time loop

11. The Infinite Man (2014)

movie cruise ship time loop

Directed by Hugh Sullivan

Starring Josh McConville, Hannah Marshall, Alex Dimitriades

Comedy, Fantasy, Sci-Fi (1h 25m)

6.2 on IMDb — 95% on RT

Everything goes wrong when a scientist inadvertently creates a time loop and traps his girlfriend in it.

The Infinite Man follows a man named Dean (played by Josh McConville) who wants the most idyllic and romantic weekend for his lover Lana (played by Hannah Marshall), only to end up contending with her ex-boyfriend while trying to save her from disaster.

Mixing sci-fi with the tension of a romantic thriller, The Infinite Man takes advantage of its one location and basic setup to deliver an effective high-concept story.

At its center is a flawed yet stirring romance that isn't afraid to ask daring questions, and the entire execution is reminiscent of Hitchcock.

movie cruise ship time loop

10. Maanaadu (2021)

movie cruise ship time loop

Directed by Venkat Prabhu

Starring Silambarasan Rajendar, S.J. Suryah, Kalyani Priyadarshan

Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi (2h 27m)

8.3 on IMDb — N/A on RT

Here we have another genre mashup, except this time we have a time loop concept embedded within a political thriller.

Maanaadu is a Tamil-language action film about a non-resident man named Abdul who's shot by police deputy Dhanushkodi—and ends up reliving the same day over and over again, forced to outwit the deputy during a public conference.

Director Venkat Prabhu knows his influences, from the framework of Groundhog Day to the Rashomon -like plot device of Vantage Point . It all seeps through in every frame.

And yet, Prabhu uses all of these elements to speak about themes like Islamophobia, police brutality, and class divide. That makes Maanaadu truly unforgettable and resonating up to its very end.

movie cruise ship time loop

9. Triangle (2009)

movie cruise ship time loop

Directed by Christopher Smith

Starring Melissa George, Joshua McIvor, Jack Taylor

Fantasy, Mystery, Sci-Fi (1h 39m)

6.9 on IMDb — 80% on RT

A vacation gone wrong is an obvious setup for a horror film—but the 2009 thriller-horror Triangle puts an interesting twist on it.

The movie is centered on a group of friends who are stranded at sea when their boat capsizes. They're saved by a mysterious ocean liner that passes by, but they soon discover that the ship they boarded is not at all what it seems.

While the concept itself isn't exactly fresh, Triangle delivers effective scares and thrills—and there are quite a many of them.

More importantly, the time loop mechanic is used cleverly, making it an underrated sci-fi horror-thriller you don't want to miss.

movie cruise ship time loop

8. Boss Level (2020)

movie cruise ship time loop

Directed by Joe Carnahan

Starring Frank Grillo, Mel Gibson, Naomi Watts

Action, Adventure, Comedy (1h 40m)

6.8 on IMDb — 73% on RT

Boss Level centers on Roy Pulver (played by Frank Grillo), a retired officer who's trapped in an endless time loop and repeatedly killed by a cast of assassins who are tasked with ending his life.

Every misstep leads to death, but with every retry, Roy finds fresh ways to beat his enemies, including Colonel Ventor (played by Mel Gibson).

Time loops mesh well with action movies, which can make a film feel very much like a video game. Veteran director of action movies Joe Carnahan embraces the concept and creatively finds more interesting action sequences with every loop.

Likewise, Frank Grillo gives a career-best performance in this testosterone-filled action flick with more brains than you'd expect.

movie cruise ship time loop

7. Happy Death Day (2017)

movie cruise ship time loop

Directed by Christopher Landon

Starring Jessica Rothe, Israel Broussard, Ruby Modine

Comedy, Horror, Mystery (1h 36m)

6.6 on IMDb — 71% on RT

Happy Death Day is a slasher-horror film about college student Tree (played by Jessica Rothe), who's killed on her birthday and repeats that same day over and over.

Every time she goes through the routine, Tree gets one step closer to finding out who her killer is—and escaping the time loop.

Happy Death Day is a fusion of genres: it's not just a slasher, but also a dark comedy with elements of romance.

The time loop mechanic shines here, and Jessica Rothe as Tree is so compelling that she makes every trope work to her benefit.

movie cruise ship time loop

6. Palm Springs (2020)

movie cruise ship time loop

Directed by Max Barbakow

Starring Andy Samberg, Cristin Milioti, J. K. Simmons

Comedy, Fantasy, Mystery (1h 30m)

7.4 on IMDb — 94% on RT

Palm Springs is one of the best movies of the past few years. This unconventional romantic comedy stars Andy Samberg and Cristin Milioti as two strangers who cross paths at a wedding in Palm Springs—and inadvertently become trapped in a time loop.

The Groundhog Day inspirations are obvious in this movie, but it feels fresh with how the time loop mechanic is used as a source of dark humor, cathartic change, and character development.

Both Samberg and Milioti bring tons of fun and chemistry to their roles, making Palm Springs one of the most enjoyable in the genre.

movie cruise ship time loop

5. Source Code (2011)

movie cruise ship time loop

Directed by Duncan Jones

Starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Monaghan, Vera Farmiga

Action, Drama, Mystery (1h 33m)

7.5 on IMDb — 91% on RT

The 2011 thriller movie Source Code is one of the most iconic time loop films of the century. It centers on an Army Captain (played by Jake Gyllenhaal) who wakes up on a train, in another person's body, and tasked with locating a bomb before it explodes in 8 minutes.

When he inevitably fails, he wakes up in a dark chamber where he's debriefed and reevaluated—then sent back in to try again, over and over again until he can figure out who the bomber is.

The time loop mechanic is more than just a gimmick. It serves as a mind-bending puzzle for the characters and the audience, making every iteration a thrilling and unpredictable sequence. If you haven't seen it yet, don't miss this underrated gem!

movie cruise ship time loop

4. Predestination (2014)

movie cruise ship time loop

Directed by Michael Spierig and Peter Spierig

Starring Ethan Hawke, Sarah Snook, Noah Taylor

Action, Drama, Sci-Fi (1h 37m)

7.4 on IMDb — 84% on RT

If you're looking for a true mind-bending time loop movie, there's none better than Predestination .

Predestination is a drama-thriller about a time-traveling agent (played by Ethan Hawke) who's tasked to catch a criminal he once crossed paths with—the only criminal to evade him. Chasing her down leads to a complex cerebral journey that transcends space and time.

It's hard to describe this phenomenal sci-fi movie without spoiling specifics, but rest assured that it's a rewarding experience. All you need to know is that it makes brilliant use of the "causal loop" (also known as a "temporal paradox").

movie cruise ship time loop

3. The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (2006)

movie cruise ship time loop

Directed by Mamoru Hosoda

Starring Riisa Naka, Takuya Ishida, Mitsutaka Itakura

Animation, Adventure, Comedy (1h 38m)

7.7 on IMDb — 84% on RT

Don't overlook anime movies in your search for time loop movies. The Girl Who Leapt Through Time is a loose follow-up to the 1967 Yasutaka Tsutsui novel, but it can be watched standalone.

The film centers on a young girl named Makoto Konno, who gains the ability to "time leap" and uses it to solve her problems.

The animation is beautiful and elevates the slice-of-life moments and nostalgic side. As for Makoto, her character is worth journeying with.

Anime fans will love this feature film—and even if you don't normally watch anime, you should still give this one a chance.

movie cruise ship time loop

2. The Endless (2017)

movie cruise ship time loop

Directed by Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead

Starring Aaron Moorhead, Justin Benson, Callie Hernandez

Drama, Fantasy, Horror (1h 51m)

6.5 on IMDb — 92% on RT

The sci-fi drama-horror The Endless focuses on two brothers—Justin and Aaron—who were once part of a cult at Camp Arcadia.

Even though they escaped the cult when they were young, they one day receive a mysterious videotape in the mail that was sent by the cult. They return to Camp Arcadia to find answers, but when they rejoin the group, they're greeted by a haunting truth.

Fans of Twin Peaks or The Twilight Zone will like The Endless for its dreamlike imagery, eerie atmosphere, and cosmic horror. Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead give their best as both leads and directors—not to mention the film's mysterious use of time loops.

movie cruise ship time loop

1. Edge of Tomorrow (2014)

movie cruise ship time loop

Directed by Doug Liman

Starring Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt, Bill Paxton

Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi (1h 53m)

7.9 on IMDb — 91% on RT

Action movie star Tom Cruise puts in a performance that exceeds expectation in Edge of Tomorrow , a sci-fi movie that takes the concept of Groundhog Day and runs in a totally different direction, all while playing with action movie tropes to deliver something great.

The movie follows an inexperienced US Army Major who's sent off to fight an alien invasion in Europe—only to die, wake up, and realize he's stuck in a time loop on the day of the battle.

While the action is thrilling, the story's execution is the real clincher, and it's all held up by Tom Cruise's charm and Emily Blunt's subversive performance. It's way better than your average sci-fi action flick!

movie cruise ship time loop

Time Loop Movies

Drew Barrymore, Patrick Swayze, Mary McDonnell, Noah Wyle, Jake Gyllenhaal, Jena Malone, and Stuart Stone in Donnie Darko (2001)

1. Donnie Darko

Brad Pitt, Bruce Willis, and Madeleine Stowe in 12 Monkeys (1995)

2. 12 Monkeys

Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell in Groundhog Day (1993)

3. Groundhog Day

Cas Anvar, Vera Farmiga, Jake Gyllenhaal, Jeffrey Wright, Michelle Monaghan, and Michael Arden in Source Code (2011)

4. Source Code

Dustin Hoffman, Samuel L. Jackson, and Sharon Stone in Sphere (1998)

7. Triangle

Timecrimes (2007)

8. Timecrimes

Dead End (2003)

9. Dead End

Ryan Phillippe in The I Inside (2004)

10. The I Inside

Sung Hyun-ah in Time (2006)

12. Retroactive

Dark Country (2009)

13. Dark Country

James Marsden, Amy Smart, Ron Livingston, and Christine Taylor in Campfire Tales (1997)

14. Campfire Tales

Richard de Klerk, Amanda Crew, and Dustin Milligan in Repeaters (2010)

15. Repeaters

Lauren Currie Lewis in Salvage (2006)

16. Salvage

Open Graves (2009)

17. Open Graves

The Reeds (2010)

18. The Reeds

Memory Lane (2012)

19. Memory Lane

Ashton Kutcher and Amy Smart in The Butterfly Effect (2004)

20. The Butterfly Effect

Eric Lively and Erica Durance in The Butterfly Effect 2 (2006)

21. The Butterfly Effect 2

The Butterfly Effect 3: Revelations (2009)

22. The Butterfly Effect 3: Revelations

Extracted (2012)

23. Extracted

Sara Paxton, Scott Eastwood, and Katherine Waterston in Enter Nowhere (2011)

24. Enter Nowhere

Bruce Willis, Jeff Daniels, Piper Perabo, Paul Dano, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Emily Blunt in Looper (2012)

26. Open Grave

Julianna Guill in Mine Games (2012)

27. Mine Games

Abigail Breslin in Haunter (2013)

28. Haunter

+1 (2013)

30. Coherence

Matthew McConaughey in Interstellar (2014)

31. Interstellar

Predestination (2014)

32. Predestination

Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt in Edge of Tomorrow (2014)

33. Edge of Tomorrow

Devil's Pass (2013)

34. Devil's Pass

Sam Lerner, Allen Evangelista, Jonny Weston, and Virginia Gardner in Project Almanac (2015)

35. Project Almanac

Danielle Panabaker in Time Lapse (2014)

36. Time Lapse

Emily Blunt in Wind Chill (2007)

37. Wind Chill

Sam Rockwell in Moon (2009)

39. The Jacket

Christian Bale in The Machinist (2004)

40. The Machinist

Robbie Amell in ARQ (2016)

42. YellowBrickRoad

Patricia Arquette and Bill Pullman in Lost Highway (1997)

43. Lost Highway

The House at the End of Time (2013)

44. The House at the End of Time

12:01 (1993)

46. Christmas Do-Over

Martin Sheen, Casper Van Dien, and Catherine Bell in Thrill Seekers (1999)

47. Thrill Seekers

Mike Vogel in The Deaths of Ian Stone (2007)

48. The Deaths of Ian Stone

95ers: Echoes (2013)

49. 95ers: Echoes

Wake Up and Die (2011)

50. Wake Up and Die

Premature (2014)

51. Premature

Jill Bennett, Cathy DeBuono, Ashleigh Sumner, Jessica Graham, and Angelyna Martinez-Boyd in And Then Came Lola (2009)

52. And Then Came Lola

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Norwegian Cruise Lines

A brand-new nude cruise will be launching in 2025 from Miami

The trip has been marketed as ‘an an 11-day adventure back to Bare-adise’

Liv Kelly

Some of us opt to explore the world by foot , car or train , but plenty of travellers are partial to bobbing between destinations aboard a cruise. And there are loads to choose from, from pickleball or Star Trek-themed voyages to trips based around murder mysteries, Irish music or Taylor Swift . 

But would you ever board a nude cruise? Well, now’s your chance. Norwegian Cruise Line have paired up with nudist travel company Bare Necessities to launch a trip described as ‘an 11-day adventure back to Bare-adise’, according to the Independent . 

The cruise, which will depart from Miami  on February 3, 2025 will journey around destinations including the Bahamas , St Lucia  and Puerto Rico , before returning on February 14. 

While that’s already a rather heavenly itinerary, the Norwegian Pearl cruise ship also has plenty on board to keep you entertained while you’re letting it all hang loose. There’s open deck space, 14 restaurants and 14 bars, a large buffet area, a casino, spa and several nightlife options. 

But don’t disrobe just yet – there are a few rules to bear in mind before you wander the starboard starkers. Cruise rules apparently require passengers to be clothed during the Captain’s reception and introduction, at all times in the main and speciality dining rooms and while docked in port. 

You’ve also gotta put a towel down before perching in the stateroom, pool deck, and buffet area, and you can’t be nude in front of other ships in port, and absolutely no ‘fondling or inappropriate touching’. 

Totally horrified or irresistibly intrigued? Prices start at $2,000 (£1,592, €1,862) for a two-person cabin, but soar up to $33,155 (£26,400, €29,590) for a three-person ‘garden villa’. You can have a look at the Bare Necessities website here . 

Did you see that there could be an underwater tunnel linking Europe and Africa by 2030 ?

Plus: A Japanese town is building a wall to block tourists from seeing a popular Mount Fuji view . 

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  • Liv Kelly Contributing Writer

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Will a cruise ship wait for me if I'm running late at a port stop? Here's what a captain has to say.

  • People considering cruising might wonder what would happen if they were running late to the ship.
  • In a Q&A on board Royal Caribbean's Wonder of the Seas, Captain Rob Hempstead shared what to do.
  • Call the ship agent if you're running late so the captain can decide if they have time to wait.

Insider Today

On March 27, eight travelers on a Norwegian cruise in Africa were stranded on the island nation of São Tomé and Príncipe after their private excursion arrived back at the ship more than an hour after boarding closed. The cruisers chased the ship for almost a week before reboarding in Dakar, Senegal.

More recently, on May 13, a couple sailing in the Mediterranean with the same cruise line was left stranded in Motril, Spain, after their excursion (not organized by Norwegian) had an hour bus delay getting back to the ship due to rain,  CNN reported .

On any cruise, travelers have the freedom to experience multiple destinations on one trip with port stops where they can exit the ship and explore a new place.

But cruise ships run on a tight schedule, often only allotting passengers around seven or eight hours for a one-day stop, sometimes even less. This leaves many to wonder what happens if you're running late getting back to the ship : Will the crew wait up, or will you end up stranded, chasing the ship from stop to stop?

Will the captain wait for you?

The answer is maybe. 

On an April 2022 cruise on board Royal Caribbean's Wonder of the Seas , Business Insider attended a Q&A with Captain Rob Hempstead, where he answered this very question. 

Hampstead, who's been a Royal Caribbean captain for two decades, started his career in Alaska's fishing industry. After 14 years of fishing, he became a captain. Before Wonder of the Seas, Hampstead served as captain of seven other Royal Caribbean ships, including Oasis of the Seas and Symphony of the Seas .

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The most stressful part of a cruise for the crew is getting out of the ports on time, he said, "Because the faster we go, the more fuel we have to burn."

Some people come late, and as a result, are left behind, he added. 

However, this doesn't mean he won't wait for you — you just need to know what to do. 

Two cruise ships docked at Royal Caribbean's private island in the Bahamas — Coco Cay. Joey Hadden/Insider

When will a cruise ship wait for passengers.

There are two instances in which the ship will wait. The first is if you're late returning from a cruise-line organized excursion. Since the excursion is supposed to only take place within the allotted port time, the ship will wait for passengers coming from a cruise line excursion that's running late.

However, if you've spent the day independently on your own, or with a private tour company, there are certain steps you must take to avoid being stranded.

If you're behind schedule, call the ship agent to alert the cruise that you're running late, he said. On Royal Caribbean cruises, this number can be found at the bottom of Cruise Compass, a daily flyer all passengers receive in their stateroom each day detailing the day's activities.

The agent may also be referred to as a port agent, according to a copy of Cruise Compass obtained by BI.

Whether the ship can wait for you, however, will depend on how late you'll be, he added.

"If I know you're 10 minutes away, I can make an educated decision about whether or not we can wait," Hampstead said. "We will wait if we can." 

Of course, if that's you, you'll have to run up the dock to the ship with many passengers watching, wondering what is holding up the departure, as they quickly realize it was you. Instead, always plan your day with ample time to return to port, or better yet, book your excursions through the cruise line.

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With Arms Wide Open

How did creed, the most hated band of the 1990s, become so beloved—and even cool i sailed the seas with thousands of fellow lunatics to find out..

It’s high noon on a blazing April day, which is the ideal time to be sitting in an Irish pub aboard a cruise ship the size of a small asteroid. The bar is called O’Sheehan’s—yes, pronounced “oceans”—and it’s located deep within the belly of the boat, just above the teppanyaki joint, the sake bar, and the lustrous duty-free shops. This consciousness-altering diorama of infinite seas and cloying Guinness-themed paraphernalia is where I meet Colleen Sullivan, a 46-year-old woman with a beehive of curly red hair and arms encased by plastic wristbands. She wants to tell me how Creed changed her life.

A few moments earlier, Sullivan dropped one of those wristbands on my table—an invitation to talk. It’s lime-green and emblazoned with pink lettering that reads “Rock the Boat With Creed.” I slip it past my hand and sidle up to her booth. Sullivan uses one nuclear-yellow-painted fingernail to hook back the wristbands on her right arm. Underneath is the pinched autograph of Scott Stapp, the band’s mercurial lead singer, enshrined in tattoo ink. This, it seems, is not her first rodeo.

We are both here for “Summer of ’99,” a weekendlong cruise and concert festival for which Creed—as in the Christian-lite rock band that sold more than 28 million albums in the U.S. alone and yet may be the most widely disdained group in modern times—is reuniting for the first time in 12 years. Roughly 2,400 other Creed fans are along for the round-trip ride from Miami to the Bahamas, and the rest of the bill is occupied by the dregs of turn-of-the-millennium alt-rock stardom. Buckcherry is here. So are Vertical Horizon, Fuel, and 3 Doors Down, the latter of whom hasn’t released an album since 2016.

To celebrate, Sixthman, the booking agency responsible for this and many other cruises, has thoroughly Creed-ified every element of the ship. The band’s logo is printed on the napkins and scripted across the blackjack felt. The TV screens at the bar are tuned to a near-constant loop of Creed’s performance at Woodstock ’99. The onboard library has been converted to a merch store selling Creed hoodies and shot glasses. The stock music piped into the corridors has been swapped out for Hinder’s “Lips of an Angel,” Lit’s “My Own Worst Enemy,” and 3 Doors Down’s “Kryptonite.” When I turn on the closed-circuit television in my cabin, a channel called New Movies plays Scream 3 and Can’t Hardly Wait . And four elevator doors in the boat’s central plaza are plastered with the words “Can You Take Me Higher or Lower?” Sixthman pulled similar stunts with 311’s “ Caribbean Cruise ,” Train’s “ Sail Across the Sun ” cruise, and Kid Rock’s notoriously debauched “ Chillin’ the Most ” cruise—the Kid Rock cruise also took place on the vessel I’m on, the Norwegian Pearl . The idea is to teleport a captive audience back into the dirtbags they once embodied and to a simpler time, when Scott Stapp controlled the universe.

Sullivan tells me that her relationship with Creed overlaps with her sobriety story. She first became a fan of the band in the late 1990s, when “Higher” and “With Arms Wide Open” were soaring up the Billboard charts. Then, Sullivan started using, and her appreciation for the divine proportions of those songs faded in service of more corporeal needs. Years later, after Creed broke up and Sullivan got clean, she returned to the music and discovered a dogma of her own: Maybe she had been put on earth to love Stapp—and Creed—harder, and with more urgency, than anyone else in the world.

“He helped me grow with those old Creed songs,” she tells me. “When I saw Scott for the first time live, he had just gotten clean too. I’d go to the shows and there would be tears streaming down my face.” Her left arm contains another Stapp tattoo, with the words “His Love Was Thunder in the Sky” scrawled up to her elbow, surrounded by a constellation of quarter notes. It’s a lyric taken from a 2013 Stapp solo song called “Jesus Was a Rockstar.” The singer Sharpie’d it onto her body himself.

“Summer of ’99” is Creed’s second attempt to reunite, after it disbanded in both 2004 and 2012 amid clashing egos and substance issues. The band couldn’t have picked a better time to get back together. If you haven’t noticed, we’re in the midst of an extremely unlikely Creed renaissance, redeeming the most reviled—and, perhaps more damningly, most uncool —band in the world. For much of the past 20 years, hating Creed has been a natural extension of being a music fan: In 2013 Rolling Stone readers voted the group “the worst band of the 1990s,” beating out a murderers’ row of Hootie and the Blowfish, Nickelback, and Hanson. Entertainment Weekly, reviewing Human Clay , the band’s bestselling album and one of the highest-selling albums of all time, bemoaned the record’s “lunkheaded kegger rock” and “quasi-spiritual lyrics that have all the resonance of a self-help manual.” Meanwhile, Robert Christgau, the self-appointed dean of American rock critics, wrote Creed off as “God-fearing grunge babies,” comparing the group unfavorably with Limp Bizkit.

The disrespect was reflected more sharply by Stapp’s own contemporaries. In the early 2000s, Dexter Holland, the frontman of the Offspring, played shows wearing a T-shirt that read “Even Jesus Hates Creed.” After leaked images of a sex tape filmed in 1999 featuring Stapp and Kid Rock and a room full of groupies made it onto the internet, Kid Rock retorted by saying that his fans didn’t care about the pornography but were appalled that he was hanging out with someone like Stapp. The comedian David Cross, who embodies the archetype of the exact sort of coastal hipsters who became the band’s loudest hecklers, dedicated swaths of his stand-up material to bird-dogging the singer. (One choice punchline: “That guy hangs out outside a junior high school girls locker room and writes down poetry he overhears.”) Then, in 2002, after a disastrous show in Chicago at which a belligerently drunk Stapp forgot the words to his songs and stumbled off the stage for 10 minutes, four attendees unsuccessfully sued the band for $2 million. Holland’s shirt didn’t go far enough—at the group’s lowest, even Creed fans hated Creed.

All this acrimony plunged Stapp into several episodes of psychic distress. His dependence on alcohol and painkillers was well documented during the band’s initial brush with success, but after Creed’s short-lived reconciliation, Stapp spiraled into a truly cavernous nadir. In 2014 the singer started posting unsettling videos to Facebook, asserting that he had been victimized by a cascading financial scam and was living in a Holiday Inn. That same year, TMZ released 911 calls made by Stapp’s wife Jaclyn claiming that he had printed out reams of CIA documents and was threatening to kill Barack Obama. But these days, Stapp—who announced a bipolar diagnosis in 2015—appears to be on much firmer ground, and the band has reportedly patched up some of those long-gestating interpersonal wounds.

But with time comes wisdom, and in 2024 neither the critical slander nor the troubling reports about Stapp’s mental state are anywhere to be found. It is a truth universally acknowledged that Creed is good, a shift that, as Stapp told Esquire , “just started happening” around 2021. The new paradigm likely solidified the next year, when Creed’s mythically patriotic post-9/11 halftime show, played on Thanksgiving in 2001, began to accrue latter-day meme status. The set was ridiculous and immaculately lip-synced by Stapp and company. Yoked, shirtless angels spin through the air, and cheerleaders pump out pompom routines synchronized with “My Sacrifice,” all while the live broadcast is interspersed with grim footage from ground zero. It’s garishly, unapologetically American, issued just before the unsavory decline of the Bush administration clicked into place. Today both of those relics—Creed and the unified national optimism—are worth getting wistful about. “This is where we peaked as a nation,” wrote football commentator Mike Golic Jr., linking to the video.

Creed nostalgia has only proliferated further since the resurrection of that halftime show. The band’s guitarist, Mark Tremonti, told the hard-rock site Blabbermouth that he’d recently noticed athletes bumping Creed as their “ go-to battle music ,” and in November, an entire stadium of Texas Rangers fans belted out “Higher” to commemorate their team’s World Series victory . Earlier this year, a viral remix of “ One Last Breath ” even began pulsing through some of the hottest parties in New York. The band has clearly crossed some sort of inscrutable cultural Rubicon and thrown reality into flux—up is down, black is white, and, due to a sublime confluence of biting irony and prostrating sincerity, Creed fucking rocks .

All this means that the inaugural edition of the “Summer of ’99” cruise is buoyed by very high stakes. It has been 12 long years since Creed last played a show, and the cruise is intended to be the dry run for a mammoth comeback tour that is scheduled for 60 dates, through summer and autumn, in basketball arenas and hockey stadiums across North America. The only remaining question is whether the band can keep it together. I’m there in a commemorative Creed Super Bowl halftime T-shirt to find out.

Several flights of stairs above O’Sheehan’s, the day before I meet Sullivan, I find Sean Patrick, a giddily beer-buzzed 34-year-old from Nashville who is standing in awe of a Coachella-sized stage that looks downright sinister on the pool deck. Creed is playing two shows this weekend, and the first is set for the very minute the boat leaves port and escapes Miami for the horizon. This means that everyone who purchased a ticket to “Summer of ’99”—which ranges from $895 for a windowless hovel to $6,381 for a stateroom with a balcony—has ascended to the top of the ship, preparing for Creed’s rebirth in a wash of Coors Light tallboys.

As of two days ago, Patrick was unaware he would be attending this cruise. Everything changed when a friend, who was on the waitlist, received a call from Norwegian Cruise Line informing him that a cabin with his name on it had miraculously become available. Patrick was suddenly presented with the opportunity to spend a tremendous amount of cash, on very short notice, to witness this reunion amid the die-hards.

Unlike Sullivan, Patrick doesn’t possess one of those highly intimate histories with the band, flecked with tales of trauma and perseverance. Still, he fell in love with Creed—even if it was only by accident.

“I think it started as a joke. The songs were good, but there was definitely a feeling of, like, Yeah, Creed! ” he tells me. “But then, next thing you know, you find yourself in your car, alone, deciding to put on Creed.”

The majority of the passengers on the Pearl have never been burdened with Patrick’s hesitance. Their relationship with Creed is genuine and free—cleansed of even the faintest whiff of irony—and, unlike Patrick, they tend to be in their late 40s and early 50s. The woman standing ankle-deep in the wading pool with a Stewie Griffin tattoo on her shin unambiguously loves Creed, and the same is probably true of whoever was lounging on a deck chair with a book, written by Fox News pundit Jesse Watters, titled Get It Together: Troubling Tales From the Liberal Fringe . Two brothers from Kentucky who work in steel mills, but not the same steel mill, tell me that loving Creed is practically a family tradition: Their eldest brother, not present on the boat, initially showed them the band’s records. Tina Smith, a 48-year-old home-care aide from Texas, crowned with a black tennis visor adorned with golden letters spelling out the name of her favorite band, loves Creed so much that she embarked on this trip all by herself. “This is my first cruise and my first vacation,” she says, proudly. (Smith is already planning her next vacation. It will coincide with another Creed show.)

Passengers I encounter that are a generation younger are clearly acquainted more with Creed the meme than Creed the band. These are the people who vibe with statements like “Born too late to own property, born just in time to be a crusader in the ‘Creed Isn’t Bad’ fight”—especially when they’re arranged as deep-fried blocks of text superimposed over the face of Keanu Reeves as Neo. If the establishment brokers of culture once settled on the position that Creed sucks, then it has been met with a youth-led insurgency that seems dead-set on shifting the consensus—if for no other reason than to savor the nectar of pure, uncut taboo.

Many members of this insurgency are aboard the Pearl , and they’re caked in emblems of internet miscellany that scream out to anyone in the know. Consider the young man, traveling with his father, who is draped in a T-shirt bearing the Creed logo below a beatific image of Nicolas Cage circa Con Air , or the many fans who wander around the innards of the Pearl in matching Scott Stapp–branded Dallas Cowboys jerseys, a reference to that halftime show. In fact, the best representatives of sardonic Creed-fandom colonists might be the youngest collection of friends that I’ve met on board. They are all in their 20s, most of them work in Boston’s medicine and science sectors, and each is dressed in a custom-ordered tropical button-down dotted with the angelic face of Scott Stapp in places where you’d expect to find coconuts and banana bunches. A week before “Summer of ’99” was announced, the four of them made a pact, via group text, that if Creed were ever to reunite, they would make it out to see the band play, no matter the cost. Their fate was sealed.

“I hated Creed. I thought they were terrible,” says Mike Hobey, who, at 28, is the oldest of the posse and therefore the one who possesses the clearest recollection of Creed’s long, strange journey toward absolution. “But then I started listening to them ironically. And I was like, Oh, shit, I like them now .”

His point is indicative of a strange tension in this new age of Creed: If “the worst band of the 1990s” is suddenly good, does that mean all music is good now? Is nothing tacky? Have the digitized music discovery apparatuses—the melting-pot TikTok algorithm, the self-replicating profusion of Spotify playlists—blurred the boundaries of good and bad taste? Am I, like Hobey, incapable of being a hater anymore?

This is what I found myself thinking about when Creed took the stage, right as the Miami skies began to mellow into a late-afternoon smolder, and put on what was, without a doubt, one of the best rock shows I’ve ever seen. The scalloped penthouses of Miami’s gleaming hotel district passed overhead as the Pearl ’s rudder kicked into gear, and Scott Stapp—looking jacked and gorgeous, chain on neck and chain on belt, flexing toward God in a tight black shirt—launched into “Are You Ready?,” the first song of the afternoon, his baritone sounding, somehow, exactly like it did in 1999. “Who would’ve thought, after our last show in 2012, our next show would be 12 years later, on a boat?” Stapp said. He is risen, indeed.

I later hear from Creed’s PR agent that Tremonti, the guitarist, was more anxious than he was excited to get this first show in the books. I also gather, from Stapp’s representative, that photographers are mandated to shoot the lead singer during only the first two songs of the set, before he begins to “glisten” (her word) with sweat. But if nerves were fraying, Creed conquered them with ease. The members of the band were enveloped by an audience that had paid a lot of money to see them, and in that atmosphere, they could do no wrong. They blitzed through a variety of album cuts before arriving at the brawny triptych of “Higher,” “One Last Breath,” and “With Arms Wide Open,” pausing briefly to wish Tremonti, who was turning 50, a happy birthday. (Stapp wiped away tears afterward, a genuinely touching moment, considering that during their first breakup, Tremonti had compared his years collaborating with Stapp—who was then in the throes of addiction— with surviving Vietnam .) Given Creed’s historic proximity to the Kid Rock brand of red-state overindulgence, I half expected the concert to detonate with violent pits and acrobatic beer stunts, but nothing remotely close to mayhem occurred. This crowd was downright polite—chaste, even—as if it had been stunned by the grandeur of Creed.

“He tried to dance pogo ,” says a disappointed German woman, basking in the pool after the show, gesturing toward her husband. Both of them explain to me that pogoing is the German word for “moshing” and that, even more astonishingly, Creed is huge in their native hamlet, just outside Düsseldorf.

“It’s a reunion after 12 years!” says her husband. “Everyone should be dancing pogo .”

Nothing about Creed’s music has changed in the past decade, which is to say that many of the quirks that people like Hobey once used to mock the band for were on brilliant display during its first show back. But the truth is that little of the smug hatred for the group has ever had much to do with the music itself. Creed’s first record, 1997’s My Own Prison , was nearly identical to the down-tuned angst of Soundgarden or Alice in Chains, drawn well inside the lines of alt-rock radio. (It earned a tasteful 4/5 rating from the longtime consumer guide AllMusic.)

The problems arose only after the band started writing the celestial hooks of Human Clay , solidifying its superstar association with other groups chasing the same crunchy highs with machine-learning efficiency: Nickelback, Staind, Shinedown, and so on. Post-grunge was the term music journalists eventually bestowed on this generation, and in retrospect, that was the kiss of death. Creed was suddenly positioned as the inheritor of the legacy of Kurt Cobain, the godfather of grunge, who bristled at all associations with the mainstream music industry and hired the notoriously bellicose Steve Albini to make Nirvana’s third album as sour and uncommercial as possible. Stapp, meanwhile, has long called Bono—he of the flowing locks, billionaire best friends , and residencies in extravagant Las Vegas monoliths —his “ rock god .” Creed’s sole aspiration was to become the biggest rock band in the world, and for a few years there, the group actually pulled it off. Cobain’s grave got a little colder.

Post-grunge steamrolled the rock business, reducing its sonic palette to an all-consuming minor-chord dirge. Nickelback’s “How You Remind Me” went quadruple platinum in 2001, eventually sparking a furious period of retaliation from the underground. (You could make the argument that the rise of the Strokes or the White Stripes or the indie-rock boom writ large is directly tied to the vise grip Creed once held on the genre.) Before long, music aesthetes adopted a new term, rather than post-grunge , to refer to the Creed phenotype: butt rock . In fact, by the late-2000s, the hatred of Creed had been so canonized that when Slate published a rebuttal —in which critic Jonah Weiner asserted that the band was “seriously underrated”—the essay was considered so “ridiculous” and contrarian as to single-handedly inspire the viral and enduring #slatepitches hashtag, instantly prompting parodies such as “ Star Wars I, II, & III, better than Star Wars IV, V, & VI .”

But, frankly, when I revisit Weiner’s piece, many of his arguments sound remarkably cogent to modern orthodoxies. “Creed seemed to irritate people precisely because its music was so unabashedly calibrated towards pleasure: Every surging riff, skyscraping chorus, and cathartic chord progression telegraphed the band’s intention to rock us, wow us, move us,” he writes. Yes, these easy gratifications might have been unpardonable sins in the summer of 1999, capping off a decade obsessively preoccupied with anxiety about all things commercial and phony. But now even LCD Soundsystem—once the standard-bearer of a certain kind of countercultural fashionability—is booking residencies sponsored by American Express. We have all become hedonists and proud sellouts, and with Creed back in vogue, it seems as if the band’s monumental intemperance has become a feature rather than a bug.

That does not mean Stapp no longer takes himself, or his art, seriously. The singer’s earnestness—some might say humorlessness—has always been a cornerstone of Creed’s brand, and there are millions of fans who will continue to meet him at his word. They brandish personal biographies that intersect with Creed’s records; they finds lines about places with “golden streets” “where blind men see” more inspiring than corny, and many of them are etched with the tattoos to prove it. But in the band’s contemporary afterlife, when all its old context evaporates, Stapp has also attracted a community eager to treat Creed like the party band it never aspired to be—the group of licentious pleasure seekers Weiner wrote about. They’re all here, sprinkled throughout the boat, ready to drink a couple of Coronas and shred their lungs to “My Sacrifice.”

After wrapping up the first night of the cruise, Creed, along with the rest of the bands on the bill, was scheduled to administer a few glad-handing sessions on the weekend itinerary. On Saturday, Tremonti chaperoned a low-key painting session while the Pearl floated into the Bahamas at a dock already crammed with other day-trippers. (Our boat was parked next to a Disney cruise, and when we disembarked, in direct earshot of all the young families, the PA blasted Puddle of Mudd’s “She Fucking Hates Me.”) Tremonti keeps busy: The previous evening, he had judged a karaoke tournament—on the main stage—alongside 3 Doors Down lead singer Brad Arnold. Toward the end of the competition, Tremonti grabbed the microphone for a rousing cover of Frank Sinatra’s “My Way,” which I’d like to think served as a tribute to Creed’s own tenaciousness.

Stapp, on the other hand, is slated for exactly one appointment mingling with the masses: He’ll be shooting hoops with some of the more athletically oriented Creed adherents on a helipad that doubles as a basketball court near the rear of the boat. Stapp is, by far, the most famous person on board, evidenced by the security detail that stands guard on the concrete. So I take my seat on the bleachers and watch him casually drain 10 free throws in a row in mesh shorts under the piercing Atlantic sun with the distinct tang of contractually obligated restraint. Afterward, Stapp slips back into the mysterious alcoves of the ship, while an awed buzz of fans—hoping for a selfie, an autograph, or a split second of euphoric surrender—tail him until they are sealed off for good. It is the one and only time I see him cameoing anywhere but the stage, drawing a stark contrast to the other musicians on board, who flit between the casinos, restaurants, and watering holes in the guts of the Pearl .

This makes some sort of cosmic sense. Stapp, to both his detriment and credit, has never embraced the flippancy that so many other people wanted to impose on Creed. “Sometimes I wish we weren’t so damn serious,” he said in a memorable Spin cover story from 2000, at the height of his mystique. “My agenda from the beginning was to write music that had meaning and was from the heart. You can’t force the hand of the muse.” If you’ll excuse the ostentation of the sentiment, you can maybe understand how someone like Stapp might not be able to feel like himself when he’s orchestrating photo-ops around a free-throw line with that same young man dressed in his Nic Cage–themed parody Creed shirt. He seems to find nothing trivial about Creed’s music. The threat of irrelevance shall never tame him. You cannot force the hand of the muse.

Unfortunately, Stapp’s remoteness is also why Kelly Risch, a 58-year-old from Wisconsin with streaks of ringed, white-blond hair and glam-metal eye shadow, is currently fighting back tears in the Atrium, the ship’s lobby and central bar. Risch is sipping mimosas with her sister Shannon Crass, and, like so many of the others I have spoken to on this cruise, they each have matching Creed tattoos memorializing a personal catastrophe. Twenty years ago, Risch suffered a massive blood clot in her leg and almost died. Crass printed out the lyrics to the latter-day Creed ballad “Don’t Stop Dancing”—a song about finding dignity in the chaos of life—and pinned them in Crass’ intensive care unit during her recovery. Today the chorus is painted on their wrists, right above Scott Stapp’s initials.

The sisters were two of the first 500 customers to buy tickets to “Summer of ’99,” which guaranteed them a photo with the band at its cabin. This is why Risch is crying. The photo shoot came with strict rules, all of which she respected: no Sharpies, no hugs, and no cellphones. She’d hoped for a moment, though—after spending $5,000 and traveling all the way from the upper Midwest, after clinging to life with the help of Creed, and after waiting 12 long years to have the band back—to thank the singer for his comfort. But Stapp, even indoors, was wearing dark, face-obscuring sunglasses. She didn’t even get to make eye contact.

“He’s so great with the crowd. He’s so engaging onstage,” says Crass. “I think that’s why this is disappointing.”

The two sisters are determined to make the most of the rest of their vacation. The Pearl will be pulling into Miami tomorrow at 7 a.m., and there are plenty more mimosas left to drink. I tell them I’m going to speak with Stapp, and the rest of Creed, in an hour. Do they have anything they’d like me to ask?

“Tell him not to wear sunglasses during the photos,” they say.

Creed is finishing up the meet-and-greet obligations in a chilly rococo ballroom, paneled—somewhat inexplicably—with portraits of Russian royalty. The band members have been at this all morning, after a late night finishing off the second performance of their two comeback sets. A molasses churn of Creed fans, all sea-weathered and scalded with maroon sunburns, weaves through a bulwark of chairs and tables toward the pinned black curtains at the rear.

Creed has this down to an art. The band is capable of generating a photo every 30 seconds, and afterward, the fans exit back down the aisle, with beaming smiles, their brush with stardom consummated. Stapp chugs a bottle of Fiji water and holds out his hand for a fist bump after the last of those passengers disappear. A crucifix dangles above his navel, and an American flag is stitched to his T-shirt. He’s still wearing those sunglasses.

I am given just 15 minutes to ask questions, in a makeshift interview setup against the portside windows, under the watchful surveillance of the entire Creed apparatus—both PR reps, a few scurrying Sixthman operators, the photographer, and so on. I ask what their day-to-day life is like aboard the “Summer of ’99,” in this highly concentrated environment of super fans, with no obvious escape routes. Stapp says that he has spent most of the time on the cruise “resting and exercising,” while Brian Marshall, the band’s bassist, told me he executes his privilege of being one of the band’s secondary members by frequenting the sauna and steam room. Throughout the weekend, Marshall is hardly recognized.

Scott Phillips, Creed’s drummer, confirms my suspicions about the cruise’s demographics. The ticket data reveals that a good number of the passengers aboard are under 35 years old. I’m curious to know how the band members are adjusting to this new paradigm shift, and if they wish to settle common ground between the post-ironic millennials and the much more zealous Gen Xers, who bear Creed insignias on their calves and forearms.

“People are drawn to our music for different reasons,” Stapp says. “That’s probably why you have the guys you were talking about, who want to chill and drink light beer and scream ‘Creed rocks!’ and the others, who have a much deeper, emotional impact.”

“And maybe, at some point, with the light-beer guys, it does connect with them,” Phillips adds. Stapp agrees.

But, really, the reason I’m here is because I want to ask Stapp a question I’ve been curious about for the entirety of Creed’s career. The band’s bizarre odyssey, from its warm reception among youth groups across America to the bloodthirsty backlash that met its success to this current psychedelic revival, has all orbited around a single lasting question: Why is Scott Stapp so serious? Could he ever mellow out? Does he want to? Surely now is the time. If Stapp allocated some levity for himself, then so many of the bad things people have said about him would be easier to process. Who knows? Maybe he’d have an easier time getting his arms around the current state of Creed, a group that is now, without a doubt, simultaneously the coolest and lamest band in the world. Why must he make being in Creed so difficult?

“It’s just who I am,” he says. “It’s what inspires me. It’s where I come from. And it’s tough, because you have to live it. That’s the conundrum of it all. That’s the double-edged sword. If I started writing [lighter material], there would be a dramatic shift in my existence.”

There’s a break in the conversation, then Stapp asks me to identify the name of the new Taylor Swift album. The songwriter’s 11 th record has dropped like a nuclear bomb while we’ve all been out to sea, but data restrictions mean that nobody on board can access Spotify or any other streaming service. The Norwegian Pearl serves as a butt-rock pocket dimension: The biggest story in pop music simply can’t penetrate our airtight seal of Hinder, Staind, and so much Creed. “It’s called The Tortured Poets Department ,” I reply. Outside of my fiancée, he is the only person on the entire cruise I will speak to about Taylor Swift.

“That’s what I feel,” he says, without a shred of artifice. “I connect with that title.”

Later that evening, I climb to the top of the Pearl for a final round of karaoke, where fans keep the spirit of 1999 alive for a few more hours. The bar is more hectic than it’s been all trip—everyone is willing to risk a hangover now that Monday is all that looms on the horizon. The host asks a guest if they intended to sing “Torn” by Creed or “Torn” by Natalie Imbruglia. “I assume Creed, but Natalie would be a fun surprise.”

The playlist is more diverse than I expected. We are treated to both Jay-Z’s “Big Pimpin’ ” and Shania Twain’s “Any Man of Mine.” Brandon Smith, one of the very few people of color aboard the cruise, crushes Maroon 5’s “She Will Be Loved.” A lanky kid from St. Louis unleashes a Slipknot death-growl into the microphone. A queer couple quietly slow-dances on the otherwise empty dance floor. And a 16-year-old, teeth tightened by braces, orders his last Sprite of the night. “Rockers are the most awesome people!” shouts one transcendently inebriated guest over the clamor of his Rolling Stones cover. “Creed is awesome!” On this one thing, at least, we can all agree.

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