My last film for Tribeca 2021, and of course, it’s a weird one.
I love strange high concept films that are almost impossible to describe. I love their creativity, unpredictability, odd sense of humor, and sheer ambition. We’ve been getting many movies like these, such as Sorry to Bother You, An Evening with Beverly Luff Linn, or The Death of Dick Long. For as fun as they are, they’re also incredibly challenging to make, as sometimes a filmmaker can get so caught up in either the humor or characters that they lose focus on the actual script. These movies are hard to talk about because they’re best enjoyed going in as blind as possible. Still, I’ll give it a shot with this film, Ultrasound.
Ultrasound is a high concept darkly comedic sci-fi thriller about an average man named Glen (Vincent Kartheiser), whose car breaks down on a stormy night. When he takes refuge in an odd couple’s home, Art (Bob Stephenson) and Cyndi (Chelsea Lopez), strange things start to happen. Based on the comic book Generous Bosom by Conor Stechschulte, who also wrote the screenplay, the film is intriguing and just grounded enough to keep your attention. The director, Rob Schroeder, really knows how to integrate you into a character’s head. His smooth transitions and cinematography make everything feel unsettling, building on nerves that hold you hostage. The film also jumps around to multiple perspectives, at times completely changing the focus of the story. For the most part, it works fine, but at times it makes the film tough to follow and disrupts the story’s flow. This is the type of film that would work better upon a rewatch.
The performances throughout the film are fine, with some actors standing out over others. Bob Stephenson and Chelsea Lopez are strong standouts throughout the film, mixing casual and likable with a creepiness you can’t really place. It’s perfect for this type of film; they feel real and natural but with some undefinable quality that makes them creepy. Vincent Kartheiser is perfectly acceptable as Greg; in fact, playing someone average does work as a stark contrast to the weirdness around him. However, he’s not particularly charismatic; I found myself getting drawn more into the other characters over his. Still, his performance is fine.
You will either love or hate Ultrasound. It’s exceptionally creative, haunting, and unexpected, thanks to its clever writing and direction. Conor Stechschulte and Rob Schroeder make a great team and are clearly on the same wavelength regarding executing this weird story. While the film could’ve benefited from a bit more focus, I appreciated its creativity above all else.