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[Tribeca ’21] ‘Ultrasound’ review: Science fiction mystery may have too many layers

A mind boggling mixed bag.

Ultrasound gets off to a familiar start. A man’s car breaks down on a rainy road. Thankfully, there is a lone house near by. The couple the man meets seem nice, but things soon take an odd turn. There is more to the mystery than what is going on in the home. Director Rob Schroeder presents the audience with three simultaneous stories that begin to intersect. The mind boggling result is a mixed bag 

Ultrasound uses camera and sound to disorient its audience. The film alternates between tight straight on shots and wide angle ones. Reds and blues give things a trance like quality. It is impossible to tell what – if anything – is real. The Lynchian plot will be frustrating for many. Quite simply, Ultrasound can be very difficult to follow at times. The fact that it is purposely abstract will not matter to some. The patience and attention the film demands will not be appreciated by all. 

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As things start to come together, many of the film’s mysteries begin to make sense. Again, there is a David Lynch feeling that may not impress everyone. Others will find it oddly clever. Either way, it is unique. The story driven narrative is filled with characters. Though the plot is well crafted and nuanced, there is surprisingly little depth to the characters. Ultrasound is all about its twisting tale with little attendance paid to the people entangled in it.

[Tribeca '21] 'Ultrasound' review: Science fiction mystery may have too many layers

The exception is Bob Stephenson in the role of Art. The character is an enigma that is hard to get a grasp on. There is something sinister about him, yet he is also insecure and seems unsure of himself. It is easier to pity him than it is to be frightened. As well as Stephenson does, there is still motivation lacking to his character. The fact he is so important to the story makes this especially odd.

The closing moments of Ultrasound add to the overall confusion. It is a baffling film that will leave those who watch intrigued and dumbfounded. Some people will enjoy the ambiguity of the story, while others will be disappointed by the lack of answers provided. For those who are willing to put in the time, it will be an interesting watch if not a completely satisfying one.

The Tribeca Film Festival takes place from June 9 – June 20


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