Featuring this week on the Unrestricted View Film Festival, Hippopotamus is an independent horror film from director Edward A Palmer. It is a clever psychological thriller that messes with the viewer’s mind and will have the audience questioning everything that they thought they just witnessed. It stars Ingvild Deila (best known for her role as Princess Leia in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story) as Ruby Ann Wattz and Stuart Mortimer as Tom.
Ruby awakes to find that she is trapped in a white room. Her legs are broken and she has absolutely no recollection of how she got there. She encounters her captor Tom and he informs her that she will remain there until Ruby falls in love with him.
What the hell?
Ruby cannot remember who she is or how she got there but as the days go by, Ruby is filled with a dreadful sense of deja vu. She begins to play Tom’s game, to work with him to regain her memories but then comes the most startling revelation of all – she cannot trust anything, least of all her own mind.
Hippopotamus is a film that is seen through three lenses. The first is what you think you are seeing and understanding while watching the film, as the story unfolds on screen. The second is what your mind begins to piece together, following each revelation in the film. The third begins to happen after the closing credits, as the story turns over again and again in your brain and you begin to think wait a minute.
You remember those vital clues, scenes that lasted for just the blink of an eye. Inconsistencies and contradictions that make you realise you were wrong. You begin to realise that you can’t always believe what you see and you certainly can’t believe what you remember which means, by extension, that you can’t believe what Ruby remembers. You’ve been hoodwinked and as you try to unravel what is real and what is not, it becomes obvious that this is a very clever film indeed.
Hippopotamus takes place primarily in the room in which Ruby is trapped, with some reliance on flashbacks, yet somehow director Palmer manages to cram the room full of significance. Throughout the film there are clues that weave together and items that seem inconsequential at first but gain vast significance later on in the film. For her part, Ingvild Deila is acting a part both in the performance Ruby gives for Tom and in leading the audience astray in their assumptions.
Hippopotamus has been nominated for six awards at the Unrestricted View Film Festival 2018 including Best Feature, Best Director (Feature) - Edward A Palmer, Best Actor (Feature) – Stuart Mortimer, Best Actress (Feature) - Ingvild Deila, Best Cinematography, Best Editing and Best Screenplay.
For absolutely messing with my head and making me question my grasp on reality, I give Hippopotamus (2017) a superb five out of five stars and would highly recommend it to fans of claustrophobic horror and psychological thrillers.