Sylvia Soska, Jenn Soska
Sylvia Soska, Jenn Soska
Katherine Isabelle as: Mary Mason
Antonio Cupo as: Billy Barker
Tristan Risk as: Beatress Johnson
David Lovgren as: Dr. Grant
Paula Lindberg as: Ruby Realgirl
Clay St. Thomas as: Dr. Walsh
Mary Mason (Katherine Isabelle) is a struggling medical student that is finding it harder and harder to make ends meet. In need of fast and easy cash she responds to an ad to be a masseuse in a strip club run by a young man named Billy Barker (Antonio Cupo). She hands him her resume, and he sees that she what she is going to school for. Just as she’s giving him a massage, something comes up, where they need her to help with a wounded man. She makes a large amount of cash from it. This leads her to help out a dancer from the club named Beatress (Tristan Risk), who looks like a living Betty Boop, who also hires her and pays her a nice amount of money herself for a very odd bit of surgery on her friend, Ruby Realgirl (Paula Lindberg). Very soon she finds herself doing body-modification surgery in the underground, but this combined with what happens to her at a party leads to complications in her life and, maybe even her mind.
American Mary is the second movie by the talented and amazing Soska Twins. Their first film wasDead Hooker in a Trunk, was a fun and energetic flick that I greatly enjoyed; This film, though, is leaps and bounds ahead of that one, technically speaking and in every other possible way. It has already been getting a lot of buzz, though as of this writing no release or distribution deal in the US has been reached (overseas it’s a different story), but I have no doubt that it will get picked up by someone here, and hopefully soon.
From a purely artistic viewpoint this movie is a truly beautiful and stunning success. It is shot in a gorgeous and visually captivating style that leaps right out. There is some amazing frame composition and tracking shots that just had me in awe of how it all looked. The almost Argentoesque use of colors, like red for example, are just one of things that add to the aesthetics. Aside, from the Argento influence, there is also a Cronenberg feel to it, in the form of his early medical horrors and in dealing with the flesh, via the use of very creepy makeup FX. But, the Soska twins take these influences and make it their own style, look, and feel that is unlike anyone else making genre films now or at any other time.
There are some truly memorable moments in the film where it’s their style and everything else that comes together for some of the film and maybe year’s best moments. Among these is the party, where what happens is horrific but shot in way that disturbs without ever getting unnecessarily graphic. Meanwhile, a scene that takes place in a bathroom, ranks as one of the year’s truly scariest moments, especially when seen cuts to seeing through the eyes of the potential victim.
The pacing moves along nicely and leads to a strong and shocking ending. Also enhancing the film is a wonderful dark sense of humor. The twins have written a very rich and lively script that is quite funny at times, thanks to the sharp and biting dialogue. At the same time there are some shocking bits of blood and violence. To its advantage it never dabbles in over-the-top gore. Instead it teases, sometimes showing the grisly blood-letting, other times cutting away and letting your mind go wild with the horrors that are going on. It’s in these moments that the impact is even stronger. Added with the stylish editing and you have a true work of art that also stands as a supremely entertaining horror film.
But, of course, style is not enough, especially in such a character driven piece. Katherine Isabelle is in true top form here. While, I absolutely adored her in the Ginger Snaps movies, she has never been better in what should be a star turning role for her. She also looks absolutely breathtaking, as a character that is almost always likable, sexy, sympathetic, and, at times, scary and vicious. Mary is one of the years richest and best fleshed-out characters. The supporting cast is just great with all of them giving them their very best to breathe life to their spirited characters. Also, keep an eye out for the beautiful Soska Twins, themselves, in their cameos as two very twisted and sexy twins.
After seeing this movie, I’m torn between this and the masterful Loved Ones, as my favorite horror film so far this year (no doubt that Cabin in the Woods comes close, as well). One thing, I have no doubt about, though, is the fact that the Soska Twins are the future of horror. I am more excited than ever to see where they will go from here. Their artistic abilities and love for this genre makes them stand head and shoulders above much of their counterparts. To me, they are currently on a whole another level. As is this sexy, scary, darkly funny, and magnificent film. You simply must see this movie as soon as you are able to!