A scene from "Ultrasonic." (Handout )
The black-and-white mood piece "Ultrasonic" — about a musician who might be losing his mind — is the kind of grimly serious low-budget indie that wants to shake up perceptions about our engagement with the world, but mistakes repetition for resonance.
Silas Gordon Brigham plays Simon, an aspiring rocker with an adoring wife (Cate Buscher) and not a few stresses in his life, including money struggles and a baby on the way. When Simon begins to hear recurring noises, however, it's his conspiracy-theorist brother Jonas (Sam Repshas) he turns to, who believes it's all a government mind control plot.
What sounds like a descent-into-madness drama is mostly a dulling, thinly conceived and aggressively arty exercise. Filmmaker Rohit Colin Rao takes on many duties here — writing, producing, directing, cinematography, editing — and his ominous monochromatic visual style is nothing if not confident. But it's his musical score he seems most enamored of, augmenting most of the scenes with monotonously percussive electronica that unfortunately serves to distance us from, rather than draw us into, Simon's private aural torment.
"Ultrasonic." MPAA rating: R for language and a scene of sexuality. Running time: 1 hour, 30 minutes. At Laemmle's Playhouse 7, Pasadena.