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The Ugly (1997)

DVD Cover (Lions Gate)
Genres:
Horror, Psychological Thriller, Slasher Film, Thriller
Director:
Scott Reynolds Scott Reynolds
Starring:
Paolo Rotondo Paolo Rotondo
Paul Glover Paul Glover
Chris Graham Chris Graham
Darien Takle Darien Takle
Rebecca Hobbs Rebecca Hobbs

6.2 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Review by Chad
Added: June 09, 2006
Imagine combining The Silence Of The Lambs with The Sixth Sense, and you'll sort of have an idea about how tonight's storyline plays out. It's a damned interesting combination, and it's certainly not one that I would have expected to work... but the end result was shockingly good.

The storyline centers around Simon Cartwright (Paolo Rotondo), a serial killer who is being housed at an insane asylum run by the creepy Dr. Marlowe (Roy Ward). Simon had amassed a fairly large victim-count during his reign of terror, and now that he's locked up, the prosecutors can't decide whether or not he's fit to stand trial. This brings us to Dr. Karen Schumaker (Rebecca Hobbs), a lady who has been assigned the task of finding out whether or not Simon is insane and, more importantly, why he set out on his killing spree to begin with. The movie is told in flashbacks from Simon's point of view, starting with his life as a young child and ending with his incarceration in his attempt to explain why he decided to murder all of those people. To make a long story short, he claims that the ghosts of his previous victims haunt him and force him to kill more and more people, and that the murders were actually committed by his alter-ego known as "The Ugly" (so named due to his scarred face). However, we also find out that Simon is a master of mind games, so there's no telling how much of this is true and how much of it is being said for his own nefarious purposes...

As I mentioned above, the storyline found here is an interesting one indeed. As I also mentioned, it's told mostly through flashbacks which show his past and how he got to where he is now; however, these flashbacks are mostly told out of order, a fact that leaves the viewer slightly confused up until all is explained later on. I enjoyed this concept, even though it was nothing new, but the execution of it in this film was handled very nicely. There's some interesting ideas to be found throughout the running time of this film, and those of you with a keen eye will get a lot more out of it than the casual viewer.

Yes, this is one of those films that requires your attention from beginning to end, else, you'll have no idea what's going on and will probably give up on it rather quickly. Although the film has aspects from the horror and slasher genres, it's almost purely a psychological thriller; as such, you shouldn't go into this one expecting to see a lot of murders and bloodshed as the promotional materials suggested. Even though the flashbacks do show some violence, this would be one to avoid if you don't fancy the idea of watching a film that is told almost entirely through two people speaking to one another in a small room.

One thing that I particularly enjoyed about this film was the attention to detail and the subtle hints that are dropped concerning the grand finale as the movie progresses. One could watch this film from beginning to end and "get" the storyline with no problems, but on repeated viewings, you'd notice a lot of small things that make the storyline all the more fascinating. Even though these small details aren't required to understand the movie as a whole, they definitely add a little something when you do catch them.

Overall, it's a pretty good film. While I did find a few faults with it (namely, a few pieces of the plot which I didn't want to spoil here), the movie as a whole was pretty solid and very entertaining. Give it a rental, or hell, give it a purchase; it's fairly easy to find this DVD for the same price as a rental from Blockbuster, so you don't have a whole lot to lose. 7/10.
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Edd #1: Edd - added 06/23/2006, 11:02 PM
Shit, I meant to give this movie a perfect rating.
Oh well.
Good stuff.
Crispy #2: Crispy - added 04/06/2011, 04:13 PM
I feel like the film makers left the movie with so many open questions because they had twisted themselves so much they didn't know how to answer them themselves. Still, an enjoyable little mind trip.
Ray Greenfield #3: Ray Greenfield - added 02/08/2012, 03:57 AM
Something overlooked is the small bit where the film captures only "The Ugly" from the bent book cover from "The Ugly Duckling" which he was reading as his
traumatic childhood was unfolding and turning him into what he became. Also, it's never really shown whether his facial bandages as a child were from falling on the ground when the bullies chased him, if they did the damage themselves after teasing him about reading "The Ugly Duckling", whether his mothers slaps cased the damage or whether it was a combination of these. Regardless, that was his turning point and when he learned he was indeed "The Ugly Ducking" without ever finishing the story to witness the transformation to a swan, since his murderous instincts came forth shortly thereafter, sending him to a mental hospital. To him, the first half of the story was his story and he viewed the world from then on as an outsider.
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