The Ugly (1997)

Serial killers, eh? They're a wacky bunch. Most people deal with the everyday stresses of life -- loony parents, childhood bullies, and self-esteem issues -- by, well, just getting on with it, occasionally with an alcoholic drink to ease the pain. Serial killers, meanwhile, apparently decide to just slaughter everybody.

Or so the movies would have us believe, anyway.

Simon Cartwright, despite bearing an uncanny resemblance to any whiny singer-songwriter you care to name, is apparently the villain of the piece. He has a history of spinning lies about why he murdered his victims, but fame-hungry psychiatrist Karen Schumaker reckons she can get to the truth. (Despite the fact that she apparently can't accurately judge whether a suit fits her or not.) Her method of interrogation largely consists of shrieking hysterically -- why didn't anyone ever think of that before? -- and insisting on being left alone in a room with an unhandcuffed psychopath. Which is pretty much a recipe for disaster.

The film swings wildly between flashbacks to various points in Simon's murdering past, scenes of Karen and Simon sitting in an interrogation room (which is inexplicably splattered with bloodstains), and fantasy sequences. Any time Simon recounts killing one of his victims, their blood spurts out black and inky rather than red, and after a while a crowd of soggy dead girls start popping up in the background, dribbling black blood all down themselves and encouraging him to 'kill the bitch.'

I'm all for ambiguity in movies, but the abrupt shifts from Simon's fantasies to reality to Simon's fictional past to Karen's fantasies just left me irritated and confused. The frequent fantasy sequences mean that whenever something happens, you're always waiting for someone to wake up and snap out of it; the mental asylum seems to have two inmates, three members of staff and some odd lighting choices; and Karen is probably the least competent psychiatrist imaginable.

Supposedly director Scott Reynolds's later movies were better than this, but since he's not done anything for the last five years, that seems unlikely.

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