The makers of "Scream" take notice of a hot new horror director

If you doubt that “The Ugly,” an unsettling serial-killer flick opening tonight in New York City, will scare you, check its references: After seeing it, the execs at Dimension Films (“Scream,” “Mimic”) were so creeped out that they signed the film’s director, Scott Reynolds, to make his next film for them.

In “The Ugly,” an imprisoned murderer tells his brutal life story to a psychologist. The plot was inspired by the tawdry slasher films of the ’80s that the 29-year-old first-time director used to watch at his parents’ Auckland, New Zealand, movie theater. “I want people watching my film to be saying, ‘My God, why did I come to see this?'” says Reynolds, “But I don’t want them to be able to turn away.”

Experts of the slasher genre are heralding the young director’s abilities. “His style is not directly comparable to anyone else,” says Michael Gingold, managing editor for horror film magazine Fangoria. “He’s unique, and it will be great to see what he does next.”

His next film, in fact, will be the Dimension project “Heaven,” which stars Martin Donovan (“Portrait of a Lady”) as an alcoholic gambler who gets information from a clairvoyant transexual. (“It’s much more grounded than it sounds,” says Reynolds.) In the meantime, watch for “The Ugly,” which Trimark is releasing at midnight shows in Manhattan and L.A. (May 15) with hopes of building blood-curdling word of mouth among late-night chill-chasers.

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