Review: Toronto After Dark Film Festival – American Mary
American Mary is the second feature film from the Twisted Sisters, Jen and Sylvia Soska. It is about pretty medical student, Mary Mason . As most students are, she is broke and looking for any way she can to make ends meet. She finds herself looking for adult jobs online, and goes for an interview at a strip club. When the club owner reads over her résumé, he realizes she can be used to help him in a different way – he has someone in the basement that needs medical attention. Next thing you know, she is sought out by a Betty Boop lookalike named Beatress (brilliantly played by Tristan Risk) who has a friend that wants some underground body modification done. After the surgery is a success, Mary is sought out by other people wanting odd medical procedures done. And finally, throw in a bit of vigilantism and you’ve got American Mary.
There is nothing more refreshing than watching a horror film made by true horror fans. It is so obvious that the Soska twins have a true understanding and appreciation of the genre. American Mary is the most inventive horror film I have seen in a long time. It is unrelentingly gory, but still beautifully directed. Drawn heavy from influences like John Carpenter and Quentin Tarantino, the cinematography and the musical score are stunning and calculated, making this film gruesomely poetic.
Not only is this film poetic, it is an uproarious amount of fun. The script is playful with heaps of dry humour, delivered perfectly by the very talented Katharine Isabelle. The nonchalant attitude towards blood is what makes this film so creepy and so hilarious at the same time.
Isabelle gives a powerhouse performance. Despite the fact that she is cutting people up without a blink of the eye, she is such a likable protagonist. I would totally be her friend. She has all the dimensions of a real person and that makes all the difference in a horror film. The Soska twins definitely know the importance of casting because had it been someone else playing Mary, the film wouldn’t have worked at all.
Seeing this film at the Toronto After Dark Film Festival was the perfect fit. In a room full of horror fanatics, who know everything about the genre, American Mary was widely well received. For the right audience, this film will become an instant cult classic. It will definitely be a Halloween go-to for me from now on.
Also, I want to send out my congratulations to the Soska twins for receiving distribution for American Mary through Anchor Bay Entertainment Canada. They just found out yesterday and made the announcement last night before the screening. Well deserved, ladies.
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