Written by: Daniel Hadley
Director: Todd Osleger
Cast: Eric Paul Chapman, Terry McNavage, Maureen O’Malley
Amnesia, subjugation, fascism delivered through American iconography, chess, all that and more are here in Kultur Shock, a movie that unfortunately falls victim to its own limitations and delivers a whole lot of nothing much in particular, leading to an amusing if poorly handled finale that – to its credit – did leave a smile on my face, so thumbs up on that I suppose.
Three strangers known only as Red, White and Blue find themselves injured and trapped in a small room with no memory of who they are and with seemingly no escape. Every few hours they receive instructions from a wooden Uncle Sam figurine with a very thick German accent; what is the purpose of these instructions? Why do they have no memory? Why is Uncle Sam German? Well most of those questions are answered, though the seventy-four minutes it took to get to those answers was very slow going.
A drab and cold colour palette along with the constant echo from the poor audio gave Kultur shock an almost lifeless feel, which if the oppressive nature I think the film makers were going for had been achieved all of that would have lent itself well to the movie as a whole; unfortunately when you couple said colour palette and relentless echo with the hokey acting and an overtly meandering plot it all adds up to a whole lot of boredom.
This really was just a slog to get through and I know this is a micro budget film and as such I may sound overly harsh, but above all else, a movie is supposed to entertain is it not? The plot could have very well been intriguing, As the audience we know nothing about these characters, why they are being held or even the year in which the movie takes place, it could be the set during the second world war or just a easily be set in the present day, maybe in some experimental underground facility and all of this should have been interesting and intriguing, but it’s not.
Due to Red and Whites being almost entirely subservient to the wills of German Uncle Sam its left to Blue and his over the top American accent to do all the questioning and what does he ask? Well it’s nothing pertinent to the plot I can tell you that much, he questions the sleeping schedule, the games they play, the water they drink. Though he does at one point ask what’s outside of their room, so that’s something I suppose.
When the ending rolled around and all is revealed in a huge groan worthy plot dump much of what we have seen does make sense for the most part, though the movie only really had two surprises up its sleeve, which were, the date that the movie takes place in and the true location of Red, White and Blue, having already guessed one of those before the big reveal, instead of the What the fuck ending the movie was going for, it’s more of an is that It kind of deal.
The fact that everyone has amnesia, the accent of Uncle Sam along with activities he has our three main characters partake in, well, all of that had already filled in the rest of the blanks for me. Had Uncle Sam spoken in an American accent and the activities been a tad more subtle then the surprise would have had greater impact. The filmmakers could have still sprinkled clues in throughout, such as having Uncle Sam’s American accent slip ever so slightly into German every now and then and let the audience pick up on it before the character do for instance.
The acting on display is quite weak and the given that the characters are the foundation movies of this ilk are built upon then you better make sure you have some damn good and or charismatic performances to hold everything up, Kultur Shock doesn’t have that and given that the plot necessitates two of its leads deliver their lines in a drone like and monotonous state there really wasn’t much room for anyone to stand out.
As a short film this would have worked much better, with the whole movie relying on the kind of surprising and kind of fun final reveal, the fact that it takes so long to get their at feature length on top of the fact that nothing really interesting happens up until that point really makes the pay off a chore to get to and ultimately it’s not really worth it.