To claim nothing is as it seems in Rob Schroder‘s Ultrasound would be a vast understatement. Requiring significant patience and understanding of its components, this horror/science-fiction hybrid begins on one disturbing note before unravelling into something far more psychologically mysterious.
It all opens rather straightforward, however off-kilter, with Glen (Vincent Kartheiser) driving home one night and experience car troubles along the way. Potentially stranded in the pouring rain, he finds a nearby abode and is warmly welcomed by the oddly friendly Arthur (Bob Stephenson) and his more reserved wife, Cyndi (Chelsea Lopez).
Disoriented from the crash, and already suspicious due to noticing the bed of nails laid on the road that caused his breakdown, Glen rather unwillingly agrees to spend the night at their home, only mildly encouraged by Arthur’s rather peculiar offer.
Elsewhere, seemingly completely separate from this initial narrative, Schroder introduces us to Katie (Rainey Qualley), a young woman dealing with the complicated gas-lighting she’s experiencing at the hands of the powerful businessman she’s having an affair with, and Shannon (Breeda Wool), a research facility assistant who uncovers a sinister plot within the department she has so blindly trusted.
There’s a calculated mentality to Schroder’s reasoning for introducing these narrative strands, with the Conor Stechschulte-penned script slowly collating them together for a rather purposeful payoff. The initial sequences with Glen, Arthur and Cyndi have a horrific temperament that eventually leads to a deliberate confusion so that we as an audience feel as blindsided by the plot development as Glen does.
If being left in the dark for much of a film’s running time, only to still be left with a lingering feeling of not entirely knowing what happened, is an ambiguous personality trait you happily accept then Ultrasound could very much be your vibe. There’s an undeniable hypnotic feeling to what’s taking place, though I suspect if you’re unable to merge with the film’s wavelength, you’re unlikely to be persuaded in any form as there’s no denying how genuinely bewildering it all is.
THREE AND A HALF STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Ultrasound is screening as part of this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, which is being presented both virtually and physically between June 9th – 20th, 2021. For more information head to the official Tribeca page.