Saturday, October 27, 2012

American Mary (2012) Review

American Mary poster
Director: The Soska Sisters
Stars: Katharine Isabelle, Antonio Cupo, Tristan Risk
Genre: Horror, Black Comedy

The Soska Sister's second film and a major improvement over their previous work, Dead Hooker in a Trunk.

I've had interest in the film for a long time, but I ended up kind of forgetting about it for a while. I'm pretty sure there was an article on this film in Fangoria Magazine like a year ago. That's what introduced me to The Soska Sisters.

The film follows Mary, a surgical student who is also struggling financially. In her search for some extra cash she ends up at a strip club, but as one thing leads to another it's not what you might guess one would do at a strip club, instead she becomes a black market surgeon. Stitching people up who need sticking, modifying bodies that need modifying. There's a sort of rape and revenge sub-plot going on too that does tie into the main plot though.

The plot is pretty wonderful, kind of a crazy mash-up of films like I Spit on Your Grave, Eyes Without a Face, Re-Animator, The Awful Dr. Orloff. Has a bit of a Cronenberg feel to it too, only slightly though.

It's definitely an interesting plot that deals with many things of the time, i.e., extreme body modification, financial problems, the strive for "beauty". We also get a strong female lead, who is intelligent, sexy, strong, independent, and fucking crazy.

The script is actually very well written and all the dialogue is quality stuff. This is greatly thanks to the wonderful acting that was able to bring the script to life. Katharine Isabelle, who you may recognize from Ginger Snaps, plays Mary. She does an amazing job and really impressed me just how great of a job she does. She kind of reminded me of Zooey Deschanel, not only in appearance but in acting and speech. I'm fond of Deschanel but I dare say I think I like Katharine Isabelle even more.

Not only does the lead role do an amazing job but so does just about everyone else. And they all play a very odd variety of characters that almost feel like they were imagined by a macabre Charles Dickens; you have Tristan Risk playing a girl who altered her appearance to reflect a very bizarre looking Betty Boop; Paula Lindberg play Ruby Realgirl, and tries to make herself a real life Barbie doll, lack of nipples and vagina included (statement as to how far people will go to mimic what the media portrays to be beauty?); The Soska Sisters themselves that cameo as...well, as twisted twins.

Katharine Isabelle and The Soska Sisters in American Mary

There is a dark sense of humor to the film and can actually be quite funny at times, in a very subtle way but an obviously intentional one. This is greatly due to the lead character and her reactions to her situations.

Soundtrack is awesome, it goes for that light-hearted music during a dark scene thing, but it actually works really well here, though I'm not sure I can explain why.

Katharine Isabelle in American Mary

The horror here is definitely body horror, there's no jump scares or anything like that. It's not too scary, I mean obviously it's meant to be unsettling in its nature. The effects at times are really awesome, I'm talking top quality stuff here. Unfortunately there are a lot of cutaways and implied gore, which I wouldn't usually mind too much but being that this is a film that is about a surgeon it's a bit disappointing. There's also some stupid dream sequences but luckily they're not too prominent.

What effects were present were great though, and they should satisfy most. The only people I could see being actually unsettled are those who are not accustomed to the genre; but to veterans there's not much new here effects wise.

Tristan Risk in American Mary

For an independent feature the production quality is fantastic. Has a very big budget look, while maintaining that indie charm.

[Spoilers in following paragraph:] Well, let's get to the ending. I was disappointed by it. I keep feeling like I missed something, but it seems that Mary just dies and that's it. I though Bloody Mary was a very memorable character and one of the best Horror characters we've had in a long time, and one of the best women of Horror ever. I thought this character could have gone a lot further than just this film. Besides that though, the ending isn't really satisfying. It's just...an ending and nothing more. []

Katharine Isabelle in American Mary

American Mary is stylish, well-written, bloody, and hosted by a cast of characters that feel like they were imagined by a macabre Charles Dickens. There's not much bad about it, and though I wouldn't call it perfect or amazingly original, it's still very much worth watching and one of the best horror films I've watched this year, if not the best. The Soska Sisters are definitely talented and have my ticket purchase for any future films of their's. 

4/5 stars

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