Well kiddies, today we have a special guest with us tonight to review the Soska sister’s second film: American Mary. April Monique Burril (also known as Chainsaw Sally) has joined us to give us her perspective of the film.
April has created an amazing alter ego in the form of Chainsaw Sally. Along with her husband (director JimmyO), April spreads gore and terror before her with her trusty tools of slaughter and mayhem. In 1999, April and JimmyO created Sally to be an online horror hostess. Chainsaw Sally grew such a following that it became necessary for the character to have her own turn in spotlight. Chainsaw Sally has developed a cult following with fans creating artwork, songs, and poetry all based on the fearsome slasher. You can check out more about April/Sally here. Let’s step into the review and see what April thought…
A disillusioned medical student becomes an underground surgeon specializing in body modification in this disturbing horror yarn from “Twisted Twins” Jen and Sylvia Soska (Dead Hooker in a Trunk). Mary (Katharine Isabelle) always dreamed of going to medical school, but now that she’s there, rising tuition costs have become too much to bear. Desperate to make some extra cash, she enters a world where her credentials aren’t quite as important as her natural talent and willingness to work outside of the mainstream. Mary’s new patients are eager to pay big money to change their appearances, but no amount of cash in the world can repair the psychological scars inflicted on this amateur surgeon as she begins altering human bodies in ways that nature never intended. (film summary from Fandango)
April: American Mary is an original production brought to us by Jen and Sylvia Soska. It follows Mary Mason, a student on the verge of achieving her goal to become a surgeon. This film is gruesomely beautiful, elegantly visceral.
American Mary is not a hack-and-slash, action-based horror. It is, instead, a fantastically dark and tragic character study. The beauty of this film is in watching the struggle, decline, and birth into darkness of budding surgeon, Mary Mason. Backed with a fantastic score, and truly gorgeous camera work, it manages to feel extremely sophisticated even when viewing the more disturbingly grotesque…. operations… that take place. Speaking of effects, a good balance is kept between how much we get to see and how much is implied by angles and by the anticipation when procedures are described. Just the right amount to satisfy the eyes and imagination of its blood-thirsty audience (that would be us, the viewers).
Katharine Isabelle’s performance as Mary is strong in an understated way and gives a real feel for the character’s increasing detachment from the world around her and dull shock at her own growing darkness. The use of the bizarre-looking but very sweet Beatress (Tristan Risk), as Mary’s introduction to the body-modification world is very clever. The sweetness and friendliness of this odd character, compared to the harshness and coldness of the medical instructors adds to the argument for Mary to leave the normal world behind.
So, wait for the next dark and stormy day, or cold fall night, … or after any day when the normal world is getting you down with it’s demands for conformity and mediocrity …. when nothing will do but to curl up with something dark and disturbing to keep you company … and watch American Mary.
PJ: I’m going to go the same route as April. I’m not going spoil this movie. The Soska sisters crafted an amazing film that contained equal amounts body horror, discomfort, pain, and a sense of pride or joy. Mary is a growing surgeon who is an upcoming star in her field, but a series of events leads her deeper and deeper into the dark world of body modification and alternate surgery. It’s creepy, and it’s messy.
This movie could have very easily slid into the realm of torture porn, but it didn’t. No matter the content, there was an obvious attempt to keep this movie out of that realm and deliver a visceral experience to the viewer. I think that is the perfect word for this movie: visceral.
American Mary is a bold statement in a world where horror movies seem to take paths so commonly tread or are made as “popcorn movies” for the masses. This is a squirm inducing, creepy film that achieves what most movies do not: makes us feel something.
I rate this movie an 8 out of 10. Very well made and I recommend that all horror movie fans check it out. I can’t wait to see what else the Soska sisters have in store for us in the future. I’m personally looking forward to their next directorial endeavor: See No Evil 2.
FYI….the Twisted Twins themselves make a cameo in the film.
Thank you April for helping out with this review! You folks can find the trailer below. Take a peek. It just might intrigue you.