Karen Schumaker (Rebecca Hobbs) is a renowned psychologist who wants to get to the bottom of Simon Cartwright’s (Paolo Rotondo) psyche and his sanity or lack thereof. Simon is a confessed serial killer who spent the last five years institutionalized in a mental hospital that obviously mistreats him. Schumaker is appalled by the treatment and is bent on finding the truth of Simon’s behavior and help him if she can. But that might not be possible.
The Ugly was an engaging film with some very strong moments but altogether it fell in the “trying too hard” category. Still, I liked watching it.
The Ugly is Reynolds’ first film, so the part where he tries so very hard is easily explained and it is an excellent sign that he does strike gold from time to time. I haven’t seen his follow-up films, so I don’t know whether he lives up to the potential he shows in this film, but the potential is definitely there, making the film very entertaining.
But there are also the parts where it felt a little too unoriginal – the female psychologist who confronts the male serial killer, the unsettling and basically prophesizing mental patient, the evil mother who is at the root of everything that has gone wrong in Simon’s life. I feel like we’ve seen that many, many times already and then often with a stronger cast than is the case here.
Not that the cast is very bad but they just aren’t great, either, and it is here, too, that Reynolds’ inexperience makes itself felt. There would have been room for more, especially with Rebecca Hobbs, if the director or the script had been a little stronger. The script generally suffers from overwriting – again, it is trying too hard.
But I don’t want to discount the film in its entirety as a first attempt. As I said, it has its moments and when it is strong, it is very strong. I also was involved in the story and engaged with the characters the entire time. The pacing was good and I was pretty much glued to the screen. It has that certain “it-factor” that raises it above many first-time-director-b-movies.