Wednesday, June 12, 2013
"‘American Mary’ (R, 1:43) This compelling horror film about manipulated appearances and revenge concerns a medical student (a fine Katharine Isabelle) who proves popular with her gangster boss and her city’s “body mod” (body modification) subculture. Do not get on her bad side. Directed by the talented sisters Sylvia and Jen Soska, the film combines gore, quiet dread, feminist conviction and a visual classicism with impressive, unbelabored dexterity. Yes, like many horror films it’s unsettling; but like the best of its genre, it makes you think." - Andy Webster, New York Times (full piece)
"The scalpel enters a full, fleshy breast and delicately, almost sensually circles the areola's entirety whilst blood oozes out, the surgeon's fingers gently tracing her handiwork.
Both nipples are eventually removed.
The next procedure involves surgically removing all physical receptors of pubic ecstasy and stitching shut the vagina of the aforementioned nipple-bereft body, save, of course, for the smallest allowable opening for the expulsion of urine.
The surgeon is spent, stunned, but satisfied - secure in the knowledge that her first stab (so to speak) at body modification is a success. The client eventually expresses sheer joy over her all-new sexually adhedonic state; how perfectly she's been able to fulfil her own personal essence of womanhood via the excision of those physical extremities which alternately offer enticement and pleasure. Whatever you say, babe. In the words of Marlo Thomas: "Free to be you and me."
Can movies possibly get any better than this?
No." - Greg Klymkiw, Klymkiw Film Corner (full piece)
"It's scary how well "American Mary" is made. But the real horror in the film comes in some unexpected places. I don’t want to give too much away, but I will say that the story does turn into a revenge film and part of what’s scary is the darkness Mary finds inside herself. That’s what makes the Soskas so good. They do not go for the knee-jerk scare of something jumping out of the dark or for gross-out gore. They deliver carefully calibrated horror that looks to the darkness that lies within each of us. And they are really smart about how they use gore effects; they know when to show blood and when to leave it to our imaginations. They prove that all horror needs is a woman’s touch to refresh it." - Beth Accomando, KPBS (full piece)
"American Mary, a new horror movie directed and written by twin sisters Jen and Sylvia Soska that opens on Friday, takes on such hoary conservatism. If the horror movie is typically about punishing women, this one is the opposite: it's about restoring robbed power. It centers on the titular surgeon-in-training (Katharine Isabelle) who falls into an extreme black-market body-modification subculture. The problem of cinematic objectification is addressed with characters who are literally objectified and thus desexualized: Mary's first procedure in a non-traditional OR involves cutting off a woman's breasts and sewing (mostly) closed her vagina, completing the patient's transformation into a doll not in the Runyon sense but the Mattel one. The filmmakers posit that it's not fair that God gets to decide what kind of body we have, and thus bestow that divine power upon the women themselves. They're in total control of their bodies." - Henry Stewart, The L Magazine (full piece)
"Their names are Jen and Sylvia Soska and they’re the future of horror filmmaking.
I say this not as a piece of hyperbole that the sisters can put on a Blu-Ray case (though feel free, ladies), but simply because, with their new film, American Mary, they managed to create a fantastic piece of horror cinema that literally left me in disbelief of what I was watching. The film freaked me out. It made me edgy. It made me squirm. It made me turn it off when my wife walked in the room.
But, most importantly, American Mary kept me engrossed. And to think, I almost didn’t watch the film." - Andy Burns, Biff Bam Pop (full piece)
"What’s truly horrifying is how much our leading lady, Mary Mason (Katharine Isabelle), is forced to endure. From financial woes, to vicious tongue lashings and blows to the ego from med school professors, to a very crude and humiliating incident involving said professor. It’s enough to make a person snap—and Mary is able to do just that in the most elegant and sophisticated manner possible. There are so many outstanding, noteworthy elements of American Mary that could easily justify a lengthier review. The special FX, the brilliantly complementing score, the cinematography, the exquisite lighting… I absolutely loved everything about this movie. But I think what I love most is how great of an achievement American Mary is for the Soska Sisters, and the Canadian horror community in general. And also the fact that, as a female horror film fan, I now have a new admirably bad ass female horror icon to write about… and maybe even dress up as for Halloween." - Lacey Paige, Cinesploitation (full piece)
"In horror films, women are often seen and not heard. While the genre has long had a place for strong female characters that best the Bad Guy as the film’s “final girl,” they are rarely depicted as powerful killers, with a voice that screams evil. That genre convention is turned on its ear in American Mary, the sophomore feature from Jen and Sylvia Soska (Dead Hooker in a Trunk), twin female filmmakers with a penchant for horror. American Mary is a provocative feminist body horror film that stars Ginger Snaps’ Katharine Isabelle as a disenfranchised medical student who begins performing illegal operations for the body modification community and eventually escalates to exacting sadistic surgical revenge on those who have wronged her." - Jovanka Vuckovic, Revolver (full piece)
"So last night I FINALLY got to see Jen and Sylvia Soska’s American Mary, because like the good little (slightly snobby) film student/projectionist I am, I wanted to see it on the big screen first. Here is my (long as fuck, a bit biased, and gushy as hell) review, under a cut because there are massive spoilers!
I’ve been super disillusioned with cinema lately. To the point of not wanting to sit down and watch things that I’ve never seen before because I’m so very tired of wasting my time and energy watching films that are unoriginal, boring, and have horrible representations of women/people of color/queer people/any other marginalized community. If I have to watch another sequel or remake, or see another Hollywood movie that millions of dollars were shoved into only to have it come out as some soulless piece of garbage, I swear to God I will become Aspiring Filmmaker Hulk. Thankfully, I found American Mary to be spectacular and I left the cinema with a giant goofy smile on my face and drove too fast with the windows down and music cranked on the way home." - Danielle Wright, Bendovercasanova (full piece)