Review by Derrick Carter
Running Time: 1 hour 34 minutes
MPAA Rating: R for Gruesome Gory Murders, Language and a Scene of Sexuality
Directed by: Scott Reynolds
Written by: Scott Reynolds
Starring: Paolo Rotondo, Rebecca Hobbs, Roy Ward, Paul Glover, Jennifer Ward-Lealand
Just because a movie tries to do something different, does that automatically make it good? The answer is absolutely not. Case in point: THE UGLY. A movie that takes an original stance on the serial killer thriller, but also comes with an amount of major problems. Primarily a two person play (with a few side characters sprinkled throughout), the film puts you inside the mind of a serial killer and jumps through time. While attempting to be a mess-with-your-head game, the movie seems to crumble under plot holes and some shaky acting.
Karen Shumaker is a psychiatrist investigating the murders committed by Simon Cartwright. Unlike other serial killers, Simon doesn’t seem to have any pattern at all in choosing his victims and Karen wants to know what’s driving him to kill at random. Simon and Karen are put together in an interrogation room of sorts and she tries to get inside his head, but finds that he might be getting inside her mind as well. We dive into Simon’s past through pseudo-flashbacks in which Karen appears asking him about the events as he’s committing them. There’s all the standard serial killer clichés of an abusive parent and constantly being bullied by others. However, there’s also an element introduced that suggests there’s more driving Simon than just a blood lust and some pretty creepy ideas are thrown in there.
THE UGLY tries hard. It really does. The sad thing is that it falls apart mainly due to a weak script, questionable casting, and a confusing ending. It also features one of the most embarrassing attempts at a jump scare that I’ve probably ever seen in my entire life (it rivals Brittany Snow bumping into a lamp in the PROM NIGHT remake). Then there’s the fake-outs, where we see Simon kill someone and it turns out that this was merely a possibility in his mind. At one point, it happens twice in a row, kind of like a dream within a dream scare. The overacting on display doesn’t do the movie any favors either.
There were a few creative scenes near the conclusion, such as Simon seeing himself as a scarred monster when he’s about to kill or being haunted by the apparitions of all his past victims. There’s even a point where it’s alluded that what’s driving him might not entirely be in his head, but the film chooses to ignore any further development with that. Some of the visuals wind up being quite creepy, but they are merely seen in quick cuts that don’t give us a solid look at the eerie things (I’m being vague because I don’t want to spoil anything major). I would consider THE UGLY as one of those films that almost warrants a remake with a better script and more talent involved. There’s potential here, but it never gets fully realized.
The plot holes throughout the film weigh it down considerably and the final scenes leave a lot to be desired. The characters are really never developed other than Simon is a picked on serial killer and Karen is a bitchy psychiatrist who only cares about her career being furthered by this case. You would think that in a movie that dives into a serial killer’s past, we’d actually think that there’s more to the murderer than just being a psycho. I really didn’t care about Simon or Karen either way. This movie keeps you watching more for the vague mystery angle that isn’t worth sitting through 94 minutes to get the vague answer to. In the end, THE UGLY may be different, but that certainly doesn’t make it good. Instead, it winds up as a missed opportunity.