A CULT HORROR FAVORITE... I GUESS...
The Ugly (1997) New Zealand
This movie was described as a 'rising cult horror favorite' but then again, they were promoting the movie so take that with a grain of salt. They also try to sell this movie on the premise that it will be wonderful because 'several members of the Lord Of The Rings creative team worked on this movie'. That... is not an endorsement. Were these members actual writers or did they get the others coffee and doughnuts?
Well I've had some real stinkers lately and this to me is more of a psychological thriller than a horror movie so I decided to concentrate on details and if the story was engaging, great. If not, oh well, maybe the 'creative team' had something new to offer in the way of scenery or special effects or...
So here we have a simple story of a psychologist interviewing a serial murderer. Karen has earned a reputation for garnering publicity by the psychos she evaluates, even getting one excused from the death penalty. So Simon, our killer, wants her opinion of him. Simon is in a hospital that is bizarre from the start. The only other patient we ever see is an older woman who likes to look at things through 3D glasses and yell at people. The two 'orderlies' I guess they'd be called are not the clean, uniform pressed type we'd expect here.
This is New Zealand after all, not meaning that they're savages or anything, just have a different way of doing things. One orderly is in a wife-beater t-shirt with a target on the front. The other is in a sleeveless shirt that's always unbuttoned and he has lots of tattoos. And dreadlocks. They carry metal batons and aren't afraid to use them as well as other measures to keep Simon absolutely miserable. So what, one might say, he's a serial killer. Well...
We start getting Simon's story slowly at first, then things really pick up. Since this is one of those movies I'd suggest taking a look at, I won't go into too many details but, as a lot of serial killers have in common, his troubles started as a young boy with an incredibly abusive mother. As Karen starts to take notes something weird happens and I had to watch the sequence several times before I understood it. She starts sitting at the table directly across from Simon, then takes her chair and moves to his left. But in the next scene as she continues her questions, she's clearly sitting at his right. Whoops. They correct that quickly because the next scene she is back at his left. So it isn't perfect.
The cinematography is pretty good, though sometimes nauseating as the camera tries to 'follow' Simon as he's running, bouncing, killing. And I was confused at first but I think they did it on purpose since Simon was supposed to be a bit delusional so maybe it's not real to him - all the blood spilled is black. From beginning to end, black. Not dark, not thin, not goop, just black.
If you expect a fairy tale ending to this movie, don't. Events change in a heartbeat and all of a sudden it takes a new direction, with an ending that kind of makes you say huh? But in a good way. I don't think you're supposed to 'get' everything that's going on, because Simon is a delusional serial killer and if you completely understood him, wouldn't that mean you were like him? I'm not sure if that's what they were trying for. But it is a smarter-than-usual look into the cause and effect of life events that serial killers are made of.
Hello to all those faithfully reading and hopefully enjoying this effort to make even the worst horror movie more watcha... aw, screw that - I'm not that good. If a movie makes you cringe because yet another batch of unlikable teens that are pushing 30 are inching toward their deaths, having a party no one does anywhere ever, a paranormal movie is boring you to tears with unending pans of empty rooms, or thanks to CGI technology when people finally bite it, their blood squirts everywhere except on the victim, the ground, the people next to them... you're in good company and this is the right place for you.