Jen and Sylvia Soska (the Twisted Twins) from Vancouver show why they’re an up-and-coming force in horror. Three years after “Dead Hooker in a Trunk”, American Mary shows what a couple of talented filmmakers can do with funds and trust. The film recently got picked up by Anchor Bay Canada and swept the awards at the recently completed Screamfest.
Katharine Isabelle (Ginger Snaps) gives a chilling performance as the film’s title character, American Mary. The film, while leaving one squeamish, does have a lot of subtle messages such as acceptance and that it’s okay to be different. The film deals with plastic surgery and body modification, but doesn’t leave them in a negative light, showing that people who are different have reasons to be accepted too.
Mary Mason is a surgery student who struggles with her finances and doesn’t get along with her professor. From the beginning, you see her plight and the start of what will be her downward spiral. In order to make ends meet she takes a job at a seedy strip club. Antonio Cupo plays Billy Barker, the strip club owner. When a customer gets roughed up more than expected, Mary is enlisted to sew him up.
Tristan Risk plays Beatress, a woman who after many surgeries under the knife, now looks like Betty Boop. She gives a brilliant performance, but doesn’t chew the scenery. Her chemistry with Mary is refreshing, as the interactions between Billy and Mary could have been a little stronger. Beatress finds out about Mary’s sew job with the customer and wants Mary to use her skills on Ruby Realgirl (Paula Lindberg). Ruby wants to become a barbie doll in every way imaginable. Thus begins a new career for Mary who enters the world of body modification.
It’s not until Mary gets raped at a party that we really start to see her character start to decline. She’s hellbent on revenge and makes sure she will make it as unpleasant as possible using her new found skills. Here’s where we see our first character arc as Mary is no longer the surgery student we feel empathy for. While she’s steadily on a downhill slide, her relationship with Lance (Twan Holliday) begins to blossom. He’s believable as a tough guy with a soft side. When Mary is at her wits end, we see a dramatic scene between her and Lance over milkshakes with great dialogue.
Mary is gorgeous, but the deeper she delves into her dark world, the scarier she becomes. There’s many subplots including Ruby’s boyfriend finding out what Mary has done. While Mary is dealing with homicide detectives regarding the disappearance of her professors, she now has Ruby’s boyfriend to deal with too. We expect Mary to be resilient and a survivor though.
The film takes you in many directions and keeps you entertained throughout. Some of the scenes are gory, but not over the top. The ending feels a little sudden and some of the subplots aren’t made clear enough. Also, some of the character arcs seem to come a little late. We’re just being a little critical because this is SUCH a great film that it deserves a complete observation. The Soska Twins directing of the film has been compared to early Cronenberg or David Lynch. American Mary is a strange and surreal horror movie from two of the hottest women in film making. Keep an eye on these Canadian twins as we’re sure to see them explode in this genre very soon.