Sunday, September 1, 2013
AMERICAN MARY (2013)
Written & Directed By: Jen & Sylvia Soska
Cinematography By: Brian Pearson
Editor: Bruce MacKinnon
Cast: Katherine Isabelle, Antonio Cupo, Tristan Risk, Paula Lindberg, David Lovgren, Clay St.Thomas
The story follows medical student, Mary Mason, as she becomes increasingly broke and disenchanted with the surgical world she once admired. The allure of easy money sends Mary into the world of underground surgeries which ends up leaving more marks on her than her so called 'freakish' clientele.
I have had my hands on this film for awhile yet I hesitated watching it. I was intimidated by the film and it's subject matter. I finally watched it for myself after reading up on it and it's reviews
The film is definitely inspired by David Cronenberg and his body horror aesthetic. This film focuses on body modification. Which is just as chilling as death is easy and final, but disfigurement and torture can last and you have to deal with the pain and circumstances you are left with, which means the scars aren't only physical and that is more scary to many of us.
The film had a b-movie feel that is hard to shake even while it is impressing In it's scenes and subject matter that help you forget that feel
I have to say I really like this film. It is still a bit more style over substance as the film and it's characters come off cold and clinical by it works for the film.
The film is disturbing throughout as it has a creepiness that never goes away, yet the film isn't as graphic or disturbing as I was expecting. It went far enough to keep you on the edge of your seat but leaves the worst of it more to your imagination rather than show it to you. Leaving the scenes all the more unsettling.
I am amazed at the dedication the actors put into the roles. I mean Tristan Risk patterned her voice after Ellen Greene’s in LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS and her facial prosthetic make-up took two hours to apply.
I have watched Katherine Isabelle's career ever since DISTURBING BEHAVIOR my first DVD ever and besides GINGER SNAPS this is her best performance yet and is a star making role she is scary, sensitive, fragile all at the same time. She went to a doctor's school to research her role as Mary. And learned how to suture a turkey for her role as Mary
All the special effects were done practically.
One of the fascinating things about the film is that it begins with every character taking advantage of the lead character as she struggles. Each of the characters especially the men are repellent. Then one action seems to transform her ad make her confident and willing to risk it all. After the worst has happened for her it seems the less she has to fear. As the question what's the worst that could happen quickly disappears.
The only part that makes the film feel empty is that it would have been nice to get more into the psyche of the characters in the film we get short explanations as to why they want these surgeries bit never explore Them nor do we see the reactions of loved ones and the public at large to the changes they make.
Some will accuse the film of just being another revenge fantasy with a sub cultural window dressing. Though it feels a bit more as it explores the subculture to a point and see how her work changes perceptions of not only her, but those around her.
Strangely the film feels like a tale of empowerment as the character seems to find confidence in her new line of work and skills then as she seems centered on revenge and how the character finds herself, after that slowly it feels like she is turning into a psychopath/sociopath. Abandoning the whole empowerment aspect and making you feel scared and kind of sorry for her.
As the film goes on you notice her wardrobe change as she has gained power in herself she flaunts her sexuality around more with no shame
Partially an exhibitionist as she is now shown not afraid to cross any lone not only does her everyday wardrobe change even her surgical scrubs seem more designer and fetishistic the deeper she goes into this new life and identity.
When the end of the film comes it feels like an interruption while other things are in play. Sort of like how things usually occur in life out of nowhere and always a surprise.
I really wanted more closure as her relationship with the club owner is sweet in it's own disturb way that looked like it was going somewhere until he and others ultimately become afraid of her.
The film ultimately ends anti-climatically which while I wish was more dramatic fits in perfectly with the films tone more subtle when you expect over the top.
What is all the more impressive is that the film was made in only 15 days and it accomplishes so much with so little. The film Manages to say so much and be so many things when it portrays itself as just a horror film.
The Soska sisters' parents re-mortgaged their house in order to raise money to finance this film. Moreover, both parents make cameo appearances in this movie.
I have a feeling we will have more masterpieces and hear a lot more about the directors The Soska Sisters who I believe have bigger imaginations hen what is on display here, but are limited by their budget which they make work for them probably for the better.
The song "Ave Maria" is played three times throughout the movie, with increasing levels of skill (amateur at the very beginning, when Mary's a student; intermediate; and a professional recording during Mary's apotheosis). The increasing complexity of the song mirrors Mary's development as a surgeon.
A great addition for the home library.