|DVD American Mary
Run time: 103 min
Director: Jen Soska, Sylvia Soska
Writers: Jen Soska, Sylvia Soska
Stars: Katharine Isabelle, Antonio Cupo, Tristan Risk
The allure of easy money sends Mary Mason, a medical student, into the world of underground surgeries which ends up leaving more marks on her than her so called ‘freakish’ clients. Written by Twisted Twins Productions
|Plot Keywords: medical student, oral sex, blow job, female protagonist, lesbian kiss|
Release Date: 11 January 2013 (UK)
After a very lackluster 2012 Frightfest Festival with only a very few memorable films and much straight to video crap this came as a sensational blast. After a great deal of stuff showing rape as fan boy entertainment this was brilliant. The Soska Sisters have added a feminist spin to a Cronenburgesque tale of body modification and surgery. There is a lot of stuff here about body image and The reason this film was so compelling a many but include: 1. Oscar worthy central performance which makes it the best Horror acting for ages. 2. Sheer unpredictability 3. A horror film by and about women 4. Real setting not a suburban Disneyland 5. Cool and stylish direction that thankfully restrained itself when you thought you were just about to witness something that might need a sick bag. 6. Make up and prosthetics that showed you stuff you definitely won't see in the average Horror. I could go on but you really need to see this if you like Horror and it deserves to be seen by a wider audience (although I doubt ti will succeed with a multiplex crowd)
American Mary is a sleek and sexy film that is unpredictable and fairly unique. The story is dark, daring and entertaining, and solid production gives it clean and smooth look. It's body modification theme is edgy yet tasteful, and at times quite thought provoking. Katherine Isobelle plays the lead brilliantly; cold and brutal, but at the same time, empowering and elegant.
As for Faults, well, American Mary is a great film, but it peaks two-thirds of the way in, and by comparison it's ending feels a little timid and noncommittal.
Now, this is a bit over critical on my part, and it's only a minor flaw, but one that stands out as there are so few in the film. It's the cameo from the Soska sisters, I get it, I do, If I made a horror film, I'd want to be in it too, but this just wasn't the parts for them. Although I suspect they probably wrote it with themselves in mind. It's only a short scene but one with so much potential. The Soska sisters play big characters in a scene that could have been wonderfully unsettling, but instead its a bit flat and clumsy. The girls just didn't have the physical presence or screen confidence required to fill out the roles.
American Mary would have been excellent if it wasn't hindered by a few minor flaws and a weak ending. Overall, a delicate, but by no means tame, addition to the torture porn sub-genre. This film could easily become a horror cult classic, and deservingly so. I will be interested to see what the Soska sisters do next.
Even at this early stage this interesting feature from Canada has the look of a future cult movie. It's decidedly left-field in subject matter. In it a female medical student with financial troubles turns to the shady world of underground surgeries. Before long she is carrying out more and more outlandish procedures. Pleasingly this one is directed by women. It's ridiculous in this day and age how rare it remains for women to be given the director's reigns. This film shows that the female vision can be very twisted and macabre indeed. The directors are identical twins Jen and Sylvia Soska who appear in a cameo as Eastern European sisters who crave bizarre body modifications. Their direction is very stylised but with grit where necessary. I'm not usually queasy when it comes to movies but I can honestly say that one surgical scene left me looking away. The third female presence is star Katherine Isabelle of Ginger Snaps fame. She is very good in a dark and sexy performance. She is a great anti-heroine and her revenge moment on a man who attacked her is one that had me inwardly cheering.
Seeing as this is a Canadian horror film perhaps a comparison with David Cronenberg is inevitable. But in this instance it's a fairly relevant one as in many ways this is another example of the body horror sub-genre. It's a film that combines contemporary sadistic horror with a view of an unusual subculture of people who modify their bodies through surgery. It isn't a very story driven film to be fair and it sometimes lacks a bit of overall dynamism but this is only a relatively minor observation and it is pleasingly original for the most part. Overall the feature could perhaps best be described as what would happen if Clive Barker was to direct a film that combined elements of Hard Candy and Audition.
One of the most original horror films of recent years American Mary is a darkly comic gore- fest about revenge and back-street body modification.
Mary (Katherine Isabelle) is a promising and dedicated medical student who, like all students at one point or another in their studies, falls foul of financial difficulty. Lured into the world of body modification by the handsome prices offered by weirdos with a desire to make themselves more unique, Mary finds a way to continue her studies whilst earning some pretty good money. Wrongly assumed to have become a prostitute by her creepy professor she is invited to a sleazy surgeons party unaware that he has ulterior motives that make her new found profession start to take over her life.
American Mary is one of few horror films that's focus is on the female character's strength. Mary goes from being a hardworking model student to a psychotic body modification surgeon in a seedy strip club where she originally auditioned to work. The transformation from quiet student to headstrong surgical dominatrix after being violated is both empowering and contradictory of the traditional representation of women in horror. Katherine Isabelle is as charismatic as she is beautiful and she completely owns the character. She maintains an air of mystery which makes you constantly question her intentions towards the people she meets and her performance will keep you on your toes.
Darkly comedic and completely twisted American Mary is one damn good reason for women in the media to be more prevalent in the horror genre; there's no fluff in this film, no cliché crap and very little predictability. It has no eye-roll moments of exploitation and Isabelle's performance is empowering for women as well as easy on the eye for the men; a good balance that excludes neither gender from the audience like so many horror films do. The Soska sisters show their love for the horror genre and its brutality but also its more sexy side (which is weird considering all the blood, but there we go!) and American Mary is clearly a labour of love and not just some uncared for cliché torture porn that's been churned out as a money maker. The settings are seedy and dark and the sleazy underbelly of society is well portrayed but in an almost desirable fashion that enables us to see how easy it is for Mary to get sucked in to this world where money comes easily if you're willing to leave your comfort zone.
If you can ignore the occasionally questionable performances American Mary is an all round brilliant horror film that sucks you in to this brutal, seedy, sexy universe for 100 minutes and refuses to let your attention slip. What happens to Mary's professor is as genius as it is disturbing, but you will have to watch to find out for yourself.