Is She Really "Sightless" or Can She See Better Than Most?
Sightless was captivating as well as motivating from the star. If a blind girl can escape her capture while fumbling around in a new space, then surly I can exercise three days out of the week. This concept had a lot to play with, and I think writer and director Cooper Karl hit the nail on the head with this one. Being able to be sensitive and engaging with a controversial topic is a true talent. Madelaine Petsch, playing Ellen Ashland, gave a decent performance in this film, but the plot is really what pulled it forward. One could see that she was struggling to adapt to her new blind lifestyle, but I couldn't really feel it. It could have been better. What really pushed the movie was the thrilling suspense throughout. The film makes you imagine not bing able to see, emphasizing the fear that comes with hearing things at night while you're completely alone.
The camerawork, sound, and editing all combined to make Sightless a psychological thriller. The effects that blend her reality and the movie's reality was especially nice. It left me confused, right along with her. Was Ellen losing her mind or were we? As the viewer we can only experience as much as our protagonist does, but that raises the question, is she experiencing the truth? If so, what is the truth? And is it subjective to all?
When Clayton was introduced, I automatically thought that him and Ellen would be together. You know, the typical injured girl and the guy who sweeps in to help her would be together in the end plot. Well, I'm glad to say that I was proven wrong over and over again, just like Ellen. When Clayton and Ellen started having their heart to heart, I was immediately weirded out. I understood that he was "trying" to relate to his patient, but I got weird vibes from that conversation. He was being too open. My suspicions were confirmed when Ellen's neighbor, Lana (December Ensminger), came over and they had another weird conversation as well. Something wasn't quite right, and I'm just happy that Ellen caught on to it too.
Sightless shocked me towards the end. I did not expect some of the reveals or events that unfolded, but I respect the creativity and originality. Like most films, some of the scenes were useless. For example, Ellen knows that she is blind-- why would she just step into the hall and talk, assuming she is talking to Lana? Especially when she thinks she lives next to an abuser as well. It was dangerous and clearly not thought through.
When the plot finally unravels, to find out it was all a simulation was like a breath of fresh air. They made Ellen think she was crazy, inadvertently making the audience confused as well as intrigued. There were so many signs! When the officer said, "perception won't always be reality," and Ellen responds with, "perception is my only reality," I felt that on a social scale. What one perceives to be the truth is true. Push and Pull. Open and close. Wrong and right. It is all perceptions of what that person feels in the moment. The second you change how you feel or open yourself up to receive new information is when your perception changes. Ellen thought she was alone in the world, and that she was crazy. The moment she tried to kill herself, she found new information about her life. One second the box was closed, and just as quickly it was open. Information and knowledge are power. She was ignorant to her surroundings, her condition, and her own emotions, but once she became aware, she was able to overcome all of her demons.
She left her "treatment facility" stronger than she went in. It's kind of ironic how in order for her to truly live she had to die first...well, almost die. It's also ironic how her confident turned out to be her greatest enemy. I applaud her at keeping her composure when she realized what was really going on, even to go as far as holding a civilized conversation, which was a bigger metaphor for her current situation. She took the phrase, "keep your friends close, and your enemies closer," to a new extreme. She waited, then attacked.
As a whole, Sightless pushed boundaries between illusion and reality. It made viewers question if there really is a difference. Ellen was strong, brave, and even compassionate given her situation. She was a force to be reckoned with. She proved that she was just as intelligent as she was beautiful. Could this film have made the plot points a little stronger? Definitely. But who do you know who could have done what Ellen Ashland did in an hour an a half, and live to tell the tale? That experience didn't break her, it made her stronger than before.