Movie Review-The Ugly

Hi Folks,


So it’s Toss Up Tuesday (Shut the hell up) and today we’re going to be talking about a seriously strange little movie.




The Ugly


Fast Facts


A commercial non-entity when it was made in 1997, The Ugly is now a bit of a cult favorite since it’s release on DVD. It was made in New Zealand (before LOTR took over the whole damn island.)


Of course some people claim the armies of Mordor are amassing again...

This one features a young psychologist who has a somewhat sensational reputation in profiling; taking on a confessed serial killer in order to assess his mental state for trial. Of course she finds herself way in over her head and by far the more psychologically vulnerable of the two.


Yeah I wouldn't count on winning this one



She's gonna psychoanalyze you until you can't see straight

Rebecca Hobbs- Plays Karen Schumaker, the aforementioned psychologist. She’s a bit over the top in places but that has as much to do with the script as anything else. Also and completely relevant to nothing; she has kind of a Kate Winslet thing going on.


Dr. Chilton I ...oh sorry wrong movie

Roy Ward-Plays the psychologist in charge of the institution in which said serial killer resides, does a nice job being both the voice of reason and creepy as fuck.


Presumably she had all stills of herself for this film burned

Jennifer Ward-Lealand- Plays Evelyn Cartwright; the serial killer’s mom and very much the reason he is the way he is. She’s one of the more effective performers in the film; giving us great crazy all the way around.


He's cute: In a creepy he'll totally bludgeon you to death kind of way

Paolo Rotondo- Plays Simon Cartwright; the serial killer. He absolutely carries this movie; he is at once subtly frightening and very sympathetic. His soft spoken delivery and big doe eyes definitely lull you into a false sense of security. Also for those of you who care I have it on good heterosexual woman authority that he is ‘Kind of hot’.





This movie has been done before. More than once. It takes a lot of skill to keep an idea like this fresh and overall The Ugly keeps it’s head above water pretty well in that department. The film is all about Simon Cartwright.  The villain is completely what makes it; just like every other movie with this premise.


I'm pretty sure they recycle that table in most of them

Now much like the villain this movie has kind of a Jekyll and Hyde feel to it. It starts off as a well done psycho thriller; chronicling the crimes of Mr. Cartwright and the traumatic turn of events that led to them, and then with about a half hour to go in the film we get into some seriously freaky shit.


We're getting there

Now this isn’t entirely unexpected, the director begins playing with our perception of reality within minutes of getting the plot going. Using some creative editing and some really nice image mixing to do Simon’s flashback sequences. We see all the murders that are discussed through Simon’s point of view with occasional interruptions from Dr. Schumaker who is incorporated visually into many of the flashbacks.


Mostly the regression is a defense mechanism against that guy's fucking obnoxious stomach tattoo

The flashbacks themselves are very brutal; there’s lots of blood and throttling factors heavily into the proceedings as well. Coupling with them are predictably fake but still violent and disturbing fantasy sequences; where we get to be in Simon’s head for a moment as he envisions strangling or bludgeoning Dr. Schumaker in mid interview.


yeah...lots of strangling

In all honesty the violence in this movie is necessarily brutal; because otherwise I’m not entirely sure that we’d be frightened of Simon at all. He’s soft spoken and borderline thoughtful at times; in the flashbacks he’s a gawky kid who really identified with The Ugly Duckling hence the film’s title. I think the implication is that this is the darker alternative version of that fairy tale. Like what if the ugly duckling’s swan mother was an abusive ho-bag and the other ducks continued to be total dicks to him until he finally snapped and went on some kind of water fowl shooting spree?


Of course even then he'll still be taunted...

The only time during the sort of standard psychologist vs. psychopath showdown that we get a hint of how truly dark Simon is, is when we see what he perceives to be his reflection. He sees scars covering one half of his face; which have a backstory involving bullies and a cute little nerdy girl who is nice to him and he later strangles to death.


All in all Simon’s problems are pretty textbook; he’s withheld from contact with his father by his emotionally abusive and codependant mother; who also beats him; coupled with constant ridicule from other children and eventually adults. He’s a person who has been marginalized his entire life and finally just snapped just so he could feel powerful for ten minutes.


Happy Mother's day...beeyotch


Now that being said this flick does teeter into the trippy in the second half. It actually does come as a bit of a shock when we see for the first time; the things that tell Simon to be the way he is. We are subtly informed that they are at least spiritual representations of the people he’s killed; if not the spirits of his victims themselves and they are creepy as shit.


Hide jer keeds, hide jer wife...

This adds a bit of a wrinkle to our perception of Simon up until this point. While the psychobabble still absolutely applies and the argument can certainly be made that the apparitions are a manifestation of the psychosis; we are then shown extended footage from earlier flashbacks that show Simon mourning his victims immediately after the kill. At the very least he believes they’re real and that they’re the reason he ‘just likes killing people’, in that when he kills people they shut the fuck up and leave him alone.


I feel like there's a pressing hygiene issue here


I mean seriously if you had a choice between murdering a stranger and seeing those things constantly are you completely confident that you would still be a law abiding member of society? Because I’m sure as hell not.



The supernatural element; while slightly jarring does work nicely into the movie; at least in and of the fact that the ending would make absolutely no fucking sense if it weren’t there; but it’s an indie movie so we’re not entirely sure that, that mattered to begin with.



Final Thoughts


The Ugly is an interesting little movie; not a classic by any means but deserving of the cult following it has attained. It has some very good sections and then some bits which bring it down to solidly above average. Paolo Rotondo does an excellent job with a part that could have easily gotten away from him and spiritus ex machina saves the screenwriter with having to come up with an ending that makes sense.



All in all a 6 out of 10




Your body conscious Screamstress,




~Fright Dyke



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