Ultrasound - New Release Review
Director: Rob Schroeder
Starring: Vincent Kartheiser, Chelsea Lopez, Breeda Wool, Bob Stephenson
Written by: Conor Stechschulte
Produced by: Georg Kallert, Rob Schroeder
Cinematography by: Mathew Rudenberg
Original Score by: Zak Engel
After his car breaks down, Glen spends one hell of an odd night with a married couple, setting into motion a chain of events that alter their lives plus those of several random strangers.
'Ultrasound' doesn't mess about. Within the first 10 minutes or so we know that something weird and uncomfortable is about to happen. But things are about to get even weirder.
Based on the celebrated cult indie comic Generous Bosom from Conor Stechschulte, 'Ultrasound' is the feature debut of L.A. based Director/Producer Rob Schroeder and it might be one of the best debut's in recent years. It's a mystery box sci-fi thriller that doesn't actually play out like a typical science fiction film. If anything it's very Lynchian in how the story unfolds structurally. It's not always an easy film to watch and not because of any of its content, more so because of the convoluted storytelling. It's the kind of film that you really need to remain focussed on and not for those who like to be easily distracted by scrolling through social media while watching.
Vincent Kartheiser (Mad Men) plays Glen, who reluctantly has to pay a visit to Art and Cyndi's house for assistance after his car breaks down in a storm. After a few late night alcoholic beverages, Art begs Glen to go into the master bedroom and get into bed with his wife, which naturally causes some tension and discomfort. However Glen, feeling tipsy, eventually agrees and he and Cyndi actually share a tender moment. The next morning Glen wakes up disoriented with Art and Cyndi nowhere to be seen. Glen leaves their home and thinks his life will just carry on as normal. Well, think again Glenny boy.
This awkward event is just the first of many that Glen must endure against his will and the remainder of the film pieces together parts of an elaborate puzzle which for the most part is not entirely reality. Kind of, not really. I won't go into spoilers but the film does a fantastic job of segmenting scenes together without delivering much context, while still maintaining enough intrigue to keep the audience guessing. It's quite high concept but never ever drifts into 'The Matrix' territory. It's more grounded. It absolutely gives off Christopher Nolan vibes, although clearly produced on a micro version of his usual budgets. And it doesn't need a hefty budget, the writing is king here and as mentioned above it is confusing early on but stick with it because it's closer to 'Memento' rather than 'Tenet'. Kartheiser is solid throughout but Chelsea Lopez and Breeda Wool are the stand outs as Cyndi, who turns out to be a scared pawn in the bigger game, and Shannon, a professional type who is helping to regulate an ongoing social experiment. Some of the other performances are hit and miss because they feel a little fraudulent but that actually plays into the story a bit.
Parallel to Glen's journey is the story of a politician who is having an affair with a younger woman. The secret relationship is forbidden obviously and reeks of gaslighting. At first it feels like this story is redundant but it shares some themes with Glen's plight and there is a nice connection revealed at the end.
It really is quite difficult to write about the film without giving too much away so I'll just say that the sound design plays a huge part in the film and there's quite a lot of gorgeous neon lighting which I will never say no to. Keep an eye out for some clues early on and you might just guess the twist(s) before the finale. Rob Schroeder delivers a highly impressive indie sci-fi mystery that deserves to be seen by as many people as possible.
- Gavin Logan
Blue Finch Film Releasing presents 'Ultrasound' on Digital Download 20 June