By Brett Mullins
Written and Directed by Scott Reynolds
The Ugly is a New Zealand mindbender that is quite the opposite of what the title suggests.
Dr. Karen Schumaker visits a rundown mental hospital to analyze the mind of a seemingly rational serial killer. As the analysis begins, it becomes blurred as to who is probing whose mind.
The Ugly is a film focused moreso on providing an enthralling mental and visual experience for the audience than on a wholly cohesive story. There is a surreal element present as illustrated by the thugish guard with the belly tattoo and somewhat more subtly through the peculiar actions of the characters and the odd assortment of props found throughout the film. Considering the many ambiguities of the story, the audience will be moved to multiple viewings of the film to catch Easter Eggs, so to say, and figure out just what is going on (though I still have not).
The style is undeniably excellent. Director Scott Reynolds utilizes strong contrasts in colors and variable lighting to make this film feel as though it is literally popping out of the screen. These vibrant colors forge a spectacle for the audience and pushes the thought that this is still a horror film to the back of their minds. This is until the audience is blindsided by moments of sheer terror.
The Ugly is an enjoyable film yet would have been even better if it were not for the weakness in the story.The story is likely further hindered by the serial killer’s resemblance to Pauly Shore, who probably doesn’t belong in a horror film.