Film - Ultrasound

Available on Digital Download from Monday, thanks to Blue Finch Film Releasing, Kraig Taylor-Bryant watched Ultrasound...

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. 

If you read the description shown above, imagine only part of its true. Now imagine you’re Glen (played by Vincent Kartheiser), questioning everything around you, you meet a strange couple by the names of Cyndi (Chelsea Lopez) and Art (Bob Stephenson), and then suddenly the story takes you somewhere else to follow someone else entirely. That’s what this film does, it makes you question everything.

Taking a step back, I chose to watch this film because the trailer mentions a review from Horrorbuzz, stating “this film, like Fight Club and Memento, will force you to rethink everything you think you know”. Now I don’t know about anyone else, but I hold Fight Club and Memento in pretty high regard, so finding out that anyone made that comparison pretty much compelled me to watch it.

I would say the best non-spoilery way to describe the story is that Glen and Cyndi find themselves trapped in a confusing and twisted nightmare, and the storytelling reflects that particularly well. Certain scenes in the film are told as memories that have been created or manipulated to fit the motivations of other characters and, for me, the most enjoyable part of this story was figuring out what’s real and what isn’t.

The writer, Conor Stechschulte, and director, Rob Schroeder, then quite literally take the audience out of the film to confuse them, choosing to change focus to new characters in the guise of Alex Harris (Chris Gartin) an aspiring senator, and his romantic entanglement Katie (Rainey Qualley). Alex is for some reason distant from Katie, but it's only by piecing the film together over time that we realise why. Unfortunately, because the story changes character focus so often, it can be hard to empathise with Glen, partly because we don’t spend enough time with him and partly because the journey of discovering the truth is more our own, rather than his.

I felt shocked and genuinely like I was left wanting more after watching this film, although it wasn’t until after the second watch that I realised that this was done in both the best and worst way. In the best way, it intentionally leaves some loose ends to keep you thinking about the moral implications of the ending. On the other hand, the film also leaves you wanting emotional investment and it’s the reason why I delayed watching it a second time. In more basic terms, it feels like it is lacking a main protagonist to root for. The story seems to focus so much on challenging the viewer with the moral questions involved with manipulating memories that it runs out of time to get us more invested in the characters we’re following.

Between the sudden change of characters, and the fact that I didn’t watch the film in one sitting, the film’s plot didn’t click with me at first. So pretty much the only reason I watched this a second time was to keep my thoughts on the film fresh in my mind for this review. However, once you understand the story, the questions this film presents are enough to leave someone feeling fulfilled by the end.

Whilst I do think that, similar to Memento, this film plays around with the order of events, and does so successfully and, like Fight Club, cleverly uses editing/camera to trick the audience, Ultrasound, for me, focuses on too many characters (unlike both Memento and Fight Club) to allow the viewer to be truly invested in their struggle. Add to that the fact that the characters in this film can trust even less about themselves, it’s hard to place Ultrasound above the other major plot twist films. Is it a good film? Yes. Is it unique? Yes. But is it "great?" Not so much. In short it’s a great film to watch once.

Follow Kraig on Twitter @Kraigandhismac

Blue Finch Film Releasing presents Ultrasound on Digital Download on 20th June

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