09th Sep2013

‘American Mary’ Review

by Chris Cummings

Stars: Katherine Isabelle, Julia Maxwell, Antonio Cupo, Paula Lindberg, Twan Holliday | Written and Directed by Jen Soska, Sylvia Soska

American-Mary2

Jen and Sylvia Soska should be on the radar of most fans of the horror genre and it’s progression as a genre with something unique and interesting to offer the current earth or cinema. Their previous, and debut, flick was Dead Hooker in a Trunk, which was written and directed by the spooksome twosome, who also appeared in main roles in the flick. It wasn’t anything special as far as I’m concerned but it has a cult following and it did show the capabilities of these two genuinely interesting filmmakers as well as offering a glimpse at what they could do in a shoestring budget and no-name talent.

American Mary came onto my radar when I saw advertisements for it premiering at London’s Frightfest horror weekend and I was extremely intrigued by the synopsis, the cast and the fact that the Soska sisters were behind the camera, holding the pen and, for a couple of minutes, in front of the lens once again. I didn’t see it in theatres because it didn’t, as far as I’m aware, get a cinema release anywhere in the UK, so I bought it on BluRay when it was released early this year.

American Mary stars Katherine Isabelle who you might know as “Ginger” from the Ginger Snaps flicks where she played a sensual werewolf who got a little bit bitey after the moon came out. She plays “Mary” in this, a horror film about body modification. Iiiiiiinteresting.

The whole body-mod scene is an interesting premise for a film and it’s kind of suprising that we haven’t really seen a horror film go full on with this concept before. Not like this anyway.

Mary is training to be a surgeon and putting in all the hours she can to get where she wants to be but she cant afford her student loans and she’s stuggling to keep her head above water financially. She, through desperation, takes a stripper job in a seedy club. She interviews for the job but when she is dragged to help a worker of the club who has been beaten half-to-death she ends up on the radar of the body-mod community for her prescise black-market surgery. She is then invited to a house party by a couple of doctors at her hospital and when she arrives her drink is spiked and she suffers sexual abuse at the hands of her perverted colleagues. This sets up the descent into madness that befalls Mary following the attack.

The film sets the reasoning for Mary getting involved in body-mods really well, with desperation mixed with depression from what happened to her. She is approached by people who want extreme body modification for their own personal reasons and Mary becomes famous in the scene, with people travelling from across the world to have her work on them. This storyline flows at the side of a vengeance plot involving Mary, the men who attacked her at the house-party, and her boss at the nightclub who has become fond of her.

Katherine Isabelle is great doing “angry” and “viscious” and is believable as someone unhinged, a definite compliment to an actress who hasn’t seen enough roles in horror in my view. The direction of the Soskas is clean and fluid and again cements them as ones to watch. They can’t act though, I will say that, but I can ignore that when they’re only in the film for a few seconds.

I liked that they cast people who were actually part of the body-mod scene in the film, it added some authenticity to the whole thing and that was cool. I thought Tristan Risk was a standout as Beatress, along with Isabelle. They stole the film and gave some laughs along the way to break up the gore and the serious and dark scenes that existed.

I’m excited to see what the Soska Sisters do next, they have made a film here that should please a lot of people who like horror, because it isn’t just a music video with limbs being chopped off like a lot of recent horror films, and it isn’t about the usual. No zombies, vamps, ghosts or masked slashers to be found, although Mary does wear a surgical mask at times, so ignore the last one.

The acting, at times, left me a little “meh” and I would have liked back story to some of the other characters, but the things I liked far outweighed the things I didn’t. Definitely one of the more original and fun horror movies I’ve seen in the last couple of years. See it!

American Mary is out now on DVD and Blu-ray.

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