This is a film that has all the makings of a cult horror movie, and my god does it pack a punch. Gutsy, gory and gloriously unique, American Mary is a film that has propelled itself into the top ranks of my favourite horror movies. To say that this stylish, innovative and riveting piece is only the Soska sister’s second directorial work is astounding. I was blown away by the storyline and by how beautiful the cinematography was, directed with such style and perfection, but with no fear of dark, gritty shots of blood and gore, everything about this film was incredible.
We are taken on a journey following Mary, a talented med school student, who comes to realise that the world she is entering is not what she thought it was. I do not need to tell you the details of the story, indeed this film will be more of a pleasure to you if you avoid reading details and just see it.
There are some scenes that are amazingly creepy, and the Soska’s show they can ramp up the tension and bizarre factor in both subtle and glaring ways, and both are just as effective. It is disturbing and shocking, but delightful for being so. The surgery scenes are so well shot that it’s impossible to look away, and they did such a good job of making me feel so deeply for Mary that when things begin to happen to and around her, I felt as brutalised as she did. This super-effective characterisation is in part down to fantastic writing, and of course down to the sensational performance that Katharine Isabelle delivers here. She carries much of the film on her own and is simply incredible. A thoroughly solid performance, she brings Mary to life as someone we equaly feel for and fear, which is no easy task. She makes Mary personable yet brilliantly insane, in a haunting, creepy and oh so sexy performance. For me this is the stand out performance of the last few years, indeed Katherine Isabelle brings here one of the most impressive solo performances I’ve ever come across in horror.
The Soska sister’s cameo in American Mary brought about one of the creepiest sections, filled with the bizarre and I loved it.
This is such a unique film, people are labelling it ‘body-horror’, and I can understand that, but for me it transcends the labels any one sub-genre can impose on it. It is sadistic, bloody and psychological, with some bizarre and gloriously disturbed scenes, and also provides moments of tension and sadness. It is an amalgam of a lot of great things in horror, and it works wonderfully.
I cannot recommend this film enough. You have to see it.
I have no doubt in my mind that Jen and Sylvia Soska are going to go on to become legends in our genre. I adore that some of the most creative, impressive work in a long time has come from female directors; we need more of them and I, for one, am damn happy that the Soskas are here. I think they’re going to be here to stay.