The Bottom Line: Not for everyone, but then again, neither am I
The Oracle says: Roy Ward has a Bacon number of 3.
Roy Ward was in Ugly, The (1997) with Rebecca Hobbs Rebecca Hobbs was in Lost Souls (2000) with Elias Koteas Elias Koteas was in Novocaine (2001) with Kevin Bacon ***
Are we born insane, do we go insane, or are we driven insane?
The first thing you notice about this movie is the color. Blue - every shade, intense red, heavy black, white. Seldom does another color enter the picture - a brown door, a green eye, a yellow lid on a cannister. That's it.
The second most import thing is the interview room. A dirty blue-white room, one wall partially painted a glaring red, the balance of the walls covered with red splatters, giving the impression of blood sprays.
The difference, however, whenever there is a killing, the blood is a thick black, almost appearing to be motor oil. This is even more disturbing than having the wash of red cover the crime scenes. Red we understand, black is totally foreign to us, leaving an even more surreal feeling to the movie.
Thirdly, we have the music and the accompanying background noises. The music is seldom more than a note or two, drawn out, extended and often repeated over and over again. You get the impression of someone holding a note on a piano or guitar, ever so long, then a heavy bass is added, perhaps an oboe or horn of some sort. It completely disoriented me and was definitely well placed.
Other background noises - clickings, signs turning, knife blade opening, keys, are thrown at you with little regard to your senses. Reminded me of Requiem For A Dream, very intense.
Finally, we have the cast of characters: Dr. Karen Schumaker (Rebecca Hobbs), the clinical psychologist, brought into the case at the request of the patient because of her history of getting the bad guy off'.
Evelyn Cartwright (Jennifer Ward-Lealand), Simon's demented mother and I believe the root of his evil persona.
Dr. Marlowe (Roy Ward), the warden at the psychiatric hospital.
Philip & Robert (Paul Glover, Chris Graham), two sicko orderlies at the hospital that put a serious case of the whoopass on Simon.
A slew of other strange people I may mention later in context, and lastly,
Simon Cartwright (Paolo Rotundo), the accused serial killer.
This movie is terrifying in its' simplicity.
A short outline that does the movie no justice Four year old Simon Cartwright is living in Hell. Some of us know it as home, to Simon it is Hell and it is inhabited by his mother, Evelyn, and the general round of bullies a small child runs across in their young lives.
Simon's father has left the fold and this simple fact has pushed the loving Evelyn over the brink. Perhaps she was always insane, or perhaps this is a new venue for her. Nevertheless, her ineptitude to deal with reality has seeped into Simon's being.
Once Simon starts school, his dyslexia becomes apparent and he is often taunted by the school bullies. Chased home, ridiculed, laughed at. One day in particular he takes a tumble and does a nose dive across the road, resulting is a horrible scrape to his face. Frankly this is just a surface scrape, but the disfigurement never leaves his mind. Coupled with that, the bullies discover a book in his bookbag, The Ugly Duckling, and so his alter persona The Ugly" is born.
So far, seems pretty mild now doesn't it, so why did this movie terrify me?
Now Simon is 13 years old and he commits his first murder, his mother. From this point on, until the end of the movie, when he is an adult, he is credited with an additional dozen or so murders, some that we have the questionable pleasure of viewing. For the most part, these viewings are done by short and startling series of flashbacks, not necessarily in any order and not necessarily complete in their viewing.
What Simon is able to do, however, is crawl inside the head of the lovely psychiatrist, Dr. Schumaker, as of course we knew he would. The results, though, aren't particularly what we would normally expect.
My take on the whole thing The unfortunate thing is, without telling the entire story and throwing spoiler after spoiler in, there is no way to describe this movie.
Simon is totally insane, of that you have not a doubt. He does, however, have that ability to appear quite sane and affable and often you have a great deal of compassion for him. He has a definite Ted Bundy charisma, coupled with an undeveloped sexuality, that draws you to him. At times you even consider forgiving him for his crimes, but then ......... he looks into the mirror.
Were this a regular movie about a serial killer, it would probably fall grossly short of acceptable. But it isn't. Certainly the story is the same old story, misunderstood young boy, mistreated by his mother, yadda, yadda, yadda. But the production lends so much more to the movie than ever could be expected.
The lighting, timing and choice of colors all grate on you nerves and make you edgy. The sudden camera angles, jumpy film, and, oh yeah, The Visitors. We mustn't forget The Visitors. Another ingenious ploy by old Simon to garner Dr. Schumakers' trust and sympathy.
They are the dead that come back and surround him, urging him to kill and kill and kill, never satisfied, never satiated. Those boys and girls, men and women, that he has done in over the years with a well placed straight edged razor to their throats.
There is one particular bathroom scene that is terribly intense and beautifully done. Fortunately, my bathroom door opens out into the hall or otherwise I'd be hard pressed to enter a bathroom again! Actually, the direction throughout the movie is probably what makes the entire thing work. That, and Simon.
Although there are scads of extras or peripheral people in the movie, the main characters are Simon, the doctor, the warden and the two orderlies. That, and Marge, but I'll bring her up later.
Dr. Schumaker has been compared, as the entire movie has, to Starling and Silence of the Lambs. I don't see it, no way. Sure, she is trying to profile the killer, Simon, but she in no way has the finesse or style that Starling or Jodie Foster did in Silence. Nor do I see a correlation between the stories in the movies, other than the fact that both men are serial killers. I did enjoy her in the part, she has these huge eyes that have tons of expression and she kind of reminds me of a smarmy Gillian Anderson.
The warden, Roy Ward, is one strange dude. Always in black with a white ascot, sometimes a touch of red. One of those strange shaped caterpillar beard things going on right under the bottom lip that makes me kind of uncomfortable. He sort of reminds me of a Lurch type character or an old Vincent Price character. Entirely odd and completely right for the part.
The two orderlies, Paul Glover and Chris Graham, leave me speechless. Their attire and their looks were strange enough on their own - tatoos all over their bodies, open shirts, chains, biker looking - but their attitudes were appalling. My God, they were perfect in their parts and I absolutely hated them, as we were supposed to!
Momma Cartwright (Jennifer Ward-Lealand [Roy's daughter perhaps?]) was reminiscent of the early Joan Crawford (from the Mommie Dearest stage) on steroids. Hateful!
Final comments This movie is NOT Silence, nor is it your typical movie. It is a first time shot for writer and director Scott Reynolds and it is nothing like you've seen for some time. In fact, other than Requiem, it is nothing like I have ever seen before.
It is shocking and disturbing, it assaults your senses. It is sadistic and mind bending. Reynolds has been compared to Dario Argento in his styling, and as someone said, this movie is like going on a blind date with Marilyn Manson.
Credit certainly must also be given to cinematographer Simon Raby, for without his glaring work and shocking camera angles, a lot of the movie wouldn't pull through, and a bow to Victoria Kelly for her inventive music.
What did I say when the movie ended? "WHEW!"
I couldn't think of a better movie for a Halloween write-off, thanks to Psychovant's invitation, for man IS the most evil monster of all. Please be sure to read the other participants: