In addition to the usual reviews and comments you would find on a horror movie blog, this is also a document of the wonderfully vast horror movie section of the video store I worked at in my youth.

Monday, October 22, 2012

A Twisted Tale.

Following Grabbers, Toronto After Dark played host to the Twisted Twins Jen & Sylvia Soska and the Canadian premiere of their new film, American Mary.

Destitute medical student Mary Mason (Katherine Isabelle) stumbles into the world of extreme body modification and learns to use her skills on those who have wronged her.

Even though I had been anxiously anticipating American Mary, I had purposefully avoided learning what it was all about, so I could go in completely fresh. In fact, I knew even less than the synopsis when I saw it.

Overall, I liked American Mary quite a bit. The concept of body modification is completely foreign to me, so it was fascinating to look through a window – no matter how (hopefully) fractured or exaggerated that window may have been – into that world. However, despite the extreme nature of the body horror, it is the characters that are the real meat of this movie. Katherine Isabelle plays her role perfectly. She has to be the “straight man” when entering this universe and after enduring trauma in the second act, must convey flashes of insanity without crossing the line into full-on camp. I really wish Isabelle was in more stuff because she has one of the best thousand-yard stares in show business.

Katherine Isabelle as Mary Mason in American Mary.

Tristan Risk as Beatress, a woman who has transformed herself into a real-life version of Betty Boop, was also another really strong element of this piece. The moments I was most into this film were when Beatress was onscreen, as I felt the exchanges between her and Mary really transported the film to a surreal place like that of the work of David Lynch. It is moments like these where American Mary is its most unique, and for that the Soskas should be applauded.

Unfortunately, once into the second half of the movie, I found it really started to meander, making the film feel a long longer than it actually was. There was a point in American Mary where it seemed to fragment into three threads and, as a result, the movie kind of collapses under its own weight. It would've been much more efficient to just pick one and go with it. I also didn't care for the ending either. It felt very abrupt, as if they weren't sure how to conclude their story.

Directors Jen (left) & Sylvia Soska.

However, it is clear that the Soska sisters are on their way up, as American Mary is miles above their debut Dead Hooker In A Trunk in every capacity. Their sophomore effort is gorgeous to look at and the gore work is solid, thanks to Brian Pearson and Masters FX, respectively.

As the Soska sisters continue to compliment their raw talent and uniquely twisted vision with other gifted individuals, their output will only get better. I think that with the right script, these two could produce something really special and I'll be right here waiting with open arms.

*Soskas Photo courtesy of TAD.

No comments: