Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Hail Mary, the Reviews are Coming in

"A vast step forward from the Soska twins’ 2009 feature debut Dead Hooker In A Trunk, this retains the energy and perversity of that shaggy dog story but with far more tact, control and intelligence.  Built around a showcase performance from Katharine Isabelle (who impressed a decade ago in Ginger Snaps), American Mary is an entry in the horror-of-plastic surgery sub-genre of Georges Franju’s Eyes Without A Face and Jesus Franco’s The Awful Dr Orloff, rooted in the recent, real, fascinating phenomenon of body modification." - Kim Newman, Screen Daily (full review 

"Isabelle rightly steals the show courtesy of her smouldering and deranged central performance, remaining charming throughout despite the horrors she ultimately commits. There is something of Lucrezia Borgia about her character; an intelligent, sexy and deadly woman who knows what she wants and observes no boundaries as to how she achieves her goals." - Joe Walsh, Cine-Vue (full review) 

"Brian Pearson's expressionist photography also lends the movie a stylish but sleazy neon-noir gloss that sits ever so well with the narrative and subtext that acknowledges appearance can be utterly deceptive. Another neat trick the Soskas pull is never allowing things to descend into cheap torture porn antics. In fact, it’s the antithesis of such concerns and empty kicks. Mary might grow addicted to the benefits of her extra-curricular activities but even when seeking revenge, she’s not a stereotypical femme on a rampage. And although gory in places, the film goes for subtlety and suggestion over OTT blood baths." - Martyn Conterio, Grolsch Film Works (full review)

"The Soska sisters’ confidence comes across in their restraint. Gore is rarely lingered upon and sometimes not shown at all. Mary may toy with a scalpel for agonising seconds before a cut to a surgical textbook, although there are some winc
e-inducing moments. The second half of the film doesn’t behave how you’d expect it to, avoiding predictable escalation in favour of developing mood. There’s also a welcome David Lynch influence at work here, from the lighting to the off-kilter sense of humour (not to mention the fact that Katharine Isabelle looks a lot like Sheryl Lee at times). Speaking of Isabelle, this film is her biggest role since the Ginger Snaps films and she gives a terrific performance, playing Mary’s journey into disillusionment and detachment beautifully." - Jonathan Hatfull, Cinetalk (full review)

"American Mary pays tribute to other horror films and traditions in a subtle way. It’s apt that the film has been picked up by Universal, as Mary herself is, in many ways, a classic horror monster. She’s sympathetic and she’s vulnerable – and she’s deadly. If Robin Wood’s argument that in classic horror the monster and the heroine – and that’s heroine, not protagonist – are allowed moments of recognition in each other, then in Mary we see both, combined, and she is the one who drives the story." - Nia Edwards-Behi, Brutal as Hell (full review)

"There are many things to admire about the Soska’s sophomore effort. It looks fantastic for a start thanks to cinematographer Brian Pearson, and the acting is top notch especially by Katherine Isabelle who plays Mary as an impenetrable ice-queen who is clearly one step away from falling into the abyss, along with the aforementioned Tristan Risk and a uniformly strong supporting cast. American Mary is also not entirely what I’d expected, and I would say that it benefitted as a result. What I got was something altogether unusual, a world where people do not look or act like you’d expect. As much as I hate to use this term, it really is the best way to describe the characters in the film: they are undeniably Lynchian, providing something that is on one hand completely believable but on the other entirely unimaginable. This in itself is American Mary’s strong suit, and by giving the audience this surreal feeling of the uncanny it often results in unexpected but not unwelcome humour." Stephanie Scaife, Brutal as Hell (full review) 

"American Mary rocked my world and for this to find its way into the hands of Universal is a big step forward, whilst it’s big label competitors churn out mind numbing rehashes of the same old stories like THE POSSESSION, American Mary is a step in the right direction and a truly tough sell as Mary’s bag has so many genre twists in it that it’s not just a horror or thriller, it’s a whole range of genres rolled in to one which makes this a film which will appeal to almost anyone with a strong stomach but then again there’s also a chance that this film will disgust as equally as it enthrals. 
Much like the character Mary this is a film which has the guts, drive and emotion to go up against anything when the opportunity arises." - Clifford Green, Box Office BUZ (full review)

"The humour is black, the script sharp and often hilarious, and the film is anchored by Isabelle’s dry, wry and (occasionally) psychotic performance. The film, as a whole, felt like a great cult novel – smart, fun, occasionally tragic, often brutal, and absolutely fantastic from start to finish. Friends beware – I’ll be forcing this one on you as soon as it’s officially out." - John R Forth, Wordpress (full review) 

"There are plenty of crowd-pleasing gross-out moments, but the strong performances, good cinematography (the smoky bar looks incredible), interesting choice of classical music (interspersed in a rock score by Kevin James Maher), quick pacing, and disturbingly convincing prosthetics elevate this above most horror films, including the others I saw. Verdict: Strong recommend." - Martin Jensen, Assume Yes (full review)

"Isabelle is nothing short of excellent in American Mary and gives us an anti-heroine we can all champion. She peppers her performance with a dark side that could ultimately drag her down and to see her slow descent is both captivating and disturbing. She also handles the comedy with a deft touch – showcasing Isabelle as a severely underrated talent." - Jason Palmer, Entertainment Focus (full review) 

"While American Mary has its fair share of gnarly slicing and reconfiguring of flesh, it is not really as concerned with being gory and disgusting as it is with being sexy and alluring. The initial strangeness and repulsion that Mason feels upon encountering the members of the subculture quickly fades away. Initially as it supplies much needed cash, but later when horrific events in ‘normal’ society damage her, it becomes empowering. The audience is presented with two options, to either leave the theatre or to go with this. The Soska sisters do not at any point present the subculture of extreme body modification and its participants as negative or evil. The movie is not only non-judgemental, but actively positive. This feels like genuinely transgressive stuff."- Stuart Barr, Screenjabber (full review)


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