New Zealand-born writer-director Scott Reynolds made his first short film "The Minute" in 1992 and followed with "A Game With No Rules" (1994), both produced by Jonathan Dowling, the man behind Garth Maxwell's 1993 feature "Jack Be Nimble". The latter was purchased by Miramax for theatrical release in America and brought the filmmaker to the attention of the company's head honchos, Harvey and Bob Weinstein, who bankrolled his sophomore feature, "Heaven" (1998), but not before Dowling under the auspices of the New Zealand Film Commission presented his feature debut "The Ugly" (1997), a stunningly macabre, disturbing and structurally innovative, post-modern psycho-thriller.
Borrowing from "the ugly duckling" story to tell its tale of a "rehabilitated" serial killer, this "Silence of the Lambs" (1991) meets "Seven" (1995) composite pitted the placid, haunted murderer against the attractive psychologist forcing him to relive his crimes. Reynolds stole from the best prototypes of the horror genre, and his imagination raised the picture above the rank-and-file of the crowded slasher field. Though the predominant color in his stylish palette was blue, he also used red to great effect, but never to represent blood, which was always seen from the killer's point-of-view as a more neutral, inoffensive black.
"Heaven" kicked off in strong fashion, but along the way its dizzyingly convoluted and contrived plot compromised it as a hard-edged thriller. This time "The Crying Game" (1992) collided with "The Usual Suspects" (1995), but the transsexual element seemed tacked-on without much thought, simply to add a little spice to the mix. In place of the serial killer's psychedelic flashbacks of his freshman effort, Reynolds substituted the tormented, violent, precognitive visions of his titular transsexual. Character development across the board left something to be desired, but the helmer still provided an adrenaline-filled ride, eventually tying up all the loose ends in time for the bloody, jolting finale.