American Mary [Blu-Ray] The Soska Sisters

American Mary [Blu-Ray] The Soska Sisters
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Drawing influence from maestros of unsettling mood — the double Ds of off-kilter horror: Cronenberg and Lynch — the Soska sisters have made a deliciously nasty and grotesquely gorgeous film that bridges the gap between those surprisingly (to some) dissimilar directors. A clinical body horror that explores the sensuous lure of fetish — in this case, voluntary surgery — American Mary is admirably dedicated to making the emotional journey of disillusioned medical student Mary Mason (Katharine Isabelle, of Ginger Snaps fame, in a re-break-out role) the focus of the picture. Being a strong, intelligent and dedicated student doesn't help Mary pay the bills, so the lovely young woman decides to try giving her breasts a whirl. During her interview with a sleazy strip club owner, she's called upon for work more lucrative and firmly in her wheelhouse than flaunting her body: off the books surgery. The ostensibly one-off gig attracts the attention of a peculiar dancer looking to hook a friend up with a little under the table nip-tuck, or more accurately, slice and stitch. With the positive attention from an artful application of her talents (even though the practice initially creeps her out), Mary has a community of intentional outsiders to cater to after a horrific incident involving the despicable scum bag surgeons she interns for inspires a career change. Often when a movie has revenge on the mind it puts all else aside to concentrate on the catharsis of violent retribution. That's not the case with Jen and Sylvia Soska's acerbic, metaphorically layered script. Mary's vengeance unlocks a gateway to another side of herself — blood is her Lynch-ian red curtain. Katherine Isabelle invests Mary with a remarkable mix of vulnerability and predatory remove. We sympathize with her just as much as we fear her when it becomes clear her taste for control has gone too far. Other than a detective meant to be a noble dolt, none of the characters are short-changed. The peripheral players are given enough to do to provide a sense that they exist in this world as more than props, even when a prop is what that person desperately wants to be. It helps that the Soskas are confident directors, trusting in the strong cast and deliberate shot composition to convey the intended meaning rather than pound away at the senses with gore and schizoid editing. The story does flounder a bit in the third act, but with highly specific stylistic sensibilities, an interesting perspective on the sexualisation of imagery and a distinct voice that captures an uncouth, catty, feminine sense of humour seldom seen in the woefully male-centric realm of horror, this is a filmmaking duo to watch out for. The special features prove this point all the more. The Twisted Twins' demented sense of humour is all over a raw and informative "Making Of," which depicts the enthusiastic and (literally) cheeky sisters in the act of directing while having body modification makeup applied, and a commentary track so amusing and forthcoming it's worth watching all the way through. (Anchor Bay)