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By James Whittington, Saturday 2nd February 2013
American Mary - DVD Review
Extras: Making Of Featurette, American Mary In London Featurette
Of all the films shown on the main screen at FrightFest 2012, one movie stood above them all; American Mary. Written and directed by Jen and Sylvia Soska, the movie lived up to all its hype and delivered on every level.
Struggling to make financial ends meet while studying to be a surgeon, talented medical student Mary Mason finds herself reduced to applying for work at a local strip joint in order to pay off her mounting debts, where she is unexpectedly called upon to perform some illegal emergency surgery on one of the club's clients and is instantly rewarded with a significant cash payment. Word of Mary's scalpel-work soon reaches one of the club's dancers, who approaches her offering to pay handsomely for some off-the-books, extreme body-modification work on a friend. The ensuing surgery is a huge success and Mary's skills soon attract the attention of an underground network of high-paying clientele, all looking for someone to administer procedures and body-mod work unavailable through the usual legal channels.
Brutal, raw, inventive, violent and above all else incredibly original, American Mary is the film that shows the world that the most exciting directors in horror at the moment are the Soska Sisters. This is a massive leap in production values from their superb debut (Dead Hooker In A Trunk) using their a larger budget with care without losing their independent aggression. This is their ace as the girls know their horror and have used this and their experiences of film-making to create a truly beautiful monster. It is at times uneasy to view and the camera never strays from showing us some truly nerve-shredding, bloody set-pieces but the Soskas do allow smart moments of humour that stop the film becoming too depressing or even over-the-top.
Katharine Isabelle gives an outstanding and possibly career best performance making sure that Mary stays well clear of horror female cliché characterisation and remains firmly in reality. When Mary starts to up her revenge tactics she has the full support of the audience making the final reel of the movie truly outstanding. Isabelle is supported by a cast that approach the often overlooked and misunderstood theme of body modification with conviction and care. The subject is never exploited, instead the film goes to great length to show that people who modify their bodies, whether it be slightly or drastically are just as human as those who don't and crave such things as being loved. Society shouldn't judge them and accept that it's their bodies and therefore can do whatever they like with them.
Beautifully made with a superb soundtrack, American Mary will appear in many people's top 5 movies of 2013 and gives us a delicious taste of what the Soska Sisters have to offer.
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