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Ultrasound

****
2022

‘…with no body-horror, gore or even effects, Schroeder does a remarkable job of maintaining grown-up narrative tension, and the pay-off is surprising satisfying…’

‘I got questions’ says one of the main characters in Rob Schroeder debut feature, and so will you after viewing this weird, deliberately disconcerting sci-fi epic; it’s a Twilight Zone number with a little Get Out conspiracy on the side. Inspired by a four-book comic called Generous Bosom by Conor Stechschulte, Ultrasound is a defiantly tricky little film that constantly keeps the audience on its toes; don’t expect sci-fi gadgets and action, but a more thoughtful questioning of reality, very much in tune with the gas-lighting era we live in.

So let’s start with some cold hard facts; Vincent Kartheiser plays Glen, a young man who is driving at night when his (futuristic-looking) car blows a tyre; is he already falling into a trap? Glen turns up at a remote shotgun shack, where he meets Art (Bob Stephenson) and his wife Cindi (Chelsea Lopez). In a scenario straight from a 70’s exploitation film, Art encourages Glen to sleep with his wife, then turns up on Glen’s doorstep with a video showing that Cindi is now pregnant. But all is not what it seems, and when Glen finds Cindi, he discovers that the reality he imagines doesn’t chime with the one he’s living in…

Ultrasound briefly fakes a move towards a child-abuse sub-plot, but that’s a deception; the goings-on featured here take a very different direction. There’s a hypnotist, a clinic, an experiment, and all sorts of strangeness. In fact, Glen may not be the main character here at all; scientist Shannon (Breeda Wool) is the one who shows most agency in trying to figure out what’s happened to Glen and Cindi…

We’re talking mind control, or mind-warping; The Manchurian Candidate is an obvious jumping-off point, but Ultrasound isn’t a retro-piece, but one that fits alongside films like Primer, Timecrimes or Transit in positing a future that doesn’t look that different from our current, unspectacular now, but has a few secrets up its sleeve. With no body-horror, gore or even effects, Schroeder does a remarkable job of maintaining grown-up narrative tension, and the pay-off is surprising satisfying…

Well acted and constructed, Ultrasound also gets a major lift from the performance of veteran Bon Stephenson as Art, who may be many things but is certainly a tricky foe to defeat. Art is messing with Glen ‘s head, and with ours too; if you like a smart sci-fi thriller in the manner of Coherence, then Ultrasound should answer enough questions to keep you on the edge of your seat.

Blue Finch Film Releasing presents Ultrasound on Digital Download from 20 June  2022.

Comments

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  1. Nobody ever used mind control to do good things. That would be a first. This sounds an interesting concept. Indie films often go off-piste to poor results but this sounds like it knows exactly what its aiming for.

  2. I like the idea of what you’ve presented here. Knowing that what’s being presented might not be what’s actually going on can be a fun experience (I was always trying to guess the twist in the original Twilight Zone episodes as I was watching them). My only hesitation (beyond it not being free on prime right now) is how graphic is the sex scene? I see you gave this the sex tag, so I’m guessing it’s not pg-13 stuff.

    • Yup, there’s a couple of very brief scenes which suggest sexual activities, but they are minor and it’s not the direction that the film goes, so you’d probably be cool with it…

  3. I’ll look for it. Was your four-star review influenced by the four stars handed out by esteemed Internet sources like Screen Anarchy and Flickering Myth?

    • Sigh. There are reputable sources. I guess you may not be following the intenet the way I do.

        • Which was supplied by the PR, and is the best image. Don’t mind giving reputable reviewers a nod, couldn’t find your review of this one…

          • Have to wait until the library gets it in.

            A lot of the sources for pull quotes these days are sites that are basically set up to provide pull quotes. Their reviews are all positive and when I go to the webpage they’re like the Internet equivalent of Entertainment Tonight, just basically advertising platforms. That’s the business they’re in.

            • I get that, but I know all four of the quoted sources here, and they are all more than reputable. Used to read Starburst when I was 10. I take your point that there are puff pieces out there, but this certainly isn’t one of them; seems to have a very positive groundswell of opinion behind it. It is, however, a vague problem for me in that I generally try and only review things that I expect to be good, so have more positive reviews than a site that just review everything. So I’ll knock off a couple of slammers every so often to demonstrate that I’m no Pollyanna…

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