Hey there, I’m Jared. I have 726 movies and shows in my Instant Queue and that’s just way too many. I’m going to slowly work my way through my queue until there’s nothing left, one movie at a time. But, I’m also thinking of you and your unwieldy queue and all the movies you want to watch but no longer have the time to now that you’ve become so awesome and popular. Let me know what has been gathering digital dust in your Netflix Instant library and I’ll watch that too. Let’s get to it!
What’s the movie? American Mary (2012)
What’s it rated? Rated R for extreme body modifications, a bludgeoning or two and for being full blown Canadian.
Did people make it? Written and Directed by The Soska Sisters. Acted by Katherine Isabelle, Antonio Cupo, Tristan Risk, David Lovgren, and John Emmet Tracy.
What’s it like in one sentence? Pieces of the sex club scene in Seven stretched to 90 minutes with hints of a much, much darker version of Secretary.
Why did you watch it? Chewers Drew Dietch and WeAreLegion made me do it.
What’s it about in one paragraph? Katherine Isabelle plays Mary Mason, a med school student who gets sucked into a world of seedy strip clubs and illegal body modification surgeries. Also, sweet sweet revenge is rampant like a gorilla free in the world, fucking up china shops and other delicate things.
Play or remove from my queue? I would play it but this is very similar to All the Boys Love Mandy Lane in regards to avoiding the hype machine. It’s a flawed film, but it was much more enjoyable than I expected. The trailer really didn’t do anything for me and as much as I love Katherine Isabel in the Ginger Snaps films, I’ve seen her phone it in more than once also. I think most of the hype behind this film has to do with the Soska Sisters and how interesting they are as twin sister horror film makers and I can’t really disagree with that. I haven’t yet seen their earlier film, Dead Hooker in a Trunk, but I am looking forward to their follow up feature, the sequel to the 2006 slasher flick See No Evil.
This is the best I’ve seen Katherine Isabelle since the original Ginger Snaps. She seems excited with the role and looks healthier than I’ve ever seen her. I wasn’t a big fan of her in Freddy Vs. Jason or her small arc on Supernatural, but now I wonder if it was because she wasn’t challenged by the material or was given poor direction because she really carries almost every frame of this movie and when it was over I instantly wanted The Further Adventures of Mary Mason to be made.
Her co-stars always fare better when they’re on-screen with her, especially Twan Holliday as Lance, the bodyguard. In any other film, this would be a silent, nothing role, but the Soska Twins do something fairly brilliant with American Mary: they give every single character a moment to show different colors and layers. Holliday stands around looking dumb, big and tough for a majority of the running time, but in the third act he tells Mary a story about his life and the writing and performance add a humanism to the film that it was missing before. Everyone is given a moment to be interesting (including a delightfully creepy extended cameo from the Soska twins themselves) and none of them let it go to waste. This really is a character driven horror film from the ground up and even when the film goes off the rails a little in the third act, it’s done from strong character motivation.
I won’t get too spoilerrific, but the ending of the film really let me down. Some characters disappear into unresolved plot strands, some end up injured or dead for the thinnest of reasons and Mary faces a foe completely out of left field who makes sense as an antagonist structurally, but not from a cinematically satisfying standpoint. We’ve spent no time with this villain until the final few minutes of the film and his appearance only clouds the character relationships we’re invested in like with Mary and Billy the club owner or Mary and the detective on the hunt for some of her victims. The film didn’t wrap up existing threads well enough to add a villain whose only function is as a plot device in the final minutes of the film.
American Mary does more right than it does wrong, though. I really can’t say enough about the depth it gives its secondary characters, the adorably dark and fucked up romance or the fact that Mary’s revenge scenario is basically wrapped up five minutes after the incident that causes her to seek it. It’s mostly a very smartly written script and the Soska Sisters know their way around a camera damned well, but the final product feels like a film that shoots for greatness and only achieves being a solid little thriller (exactly what I said about Mandy Lane). At the end of the day American Mary doesn’t leave you feeling like you witnessed brilliance as much as it does feeling like you witnessed a stab at it.
How’s the music? It doesn’t have the overbearing industrial grime metal I was expecting. Instead, Peter Allen lays down a score I would damned well call classy. Very well done.
What does Netflix say I’d like if I like this? Maniac (loved every second of this.), The Brass Teapot (been meaning to sit down with this), Lucky (I really don’t like Colin Hanks), Hellraiser: Deader (eh, it was better than Hellworld) and The ABC’s of Death (I only made it to G before I gave up).
Do you have an interesting fun-fact? There’s not a single visual effect in the film. All the gore is either practical or real body modifications on the actors. Does that even happen anymore?
What is Netflix’s best guess for Jared? 3
What is Jared’s best guess for Jared? 3
Can you link to the movie? I sure can!
Any last thoughts? The Soska Sisters are truly talent to watch. They have something to say and their excellent combination of pacing, color palate, actors and script makes them very easy to listen to. I expect great things from them.
Did you watch anything else this week? I watched a triple feature of The Way Way Back, The Spectacular Now and The Kings of Summer (loved all of them to various degrees) and then did a double feature of Her and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. Her is a masterpiece and Mitty was damned enjoyable.
Any spoilerish thoughts about last week’s film, All The Boys Love Mandy Lane? I really got into all the spoilers last week, but I would be interested in hearing from people who watched it to see if they caught something significant from Anson Mount’s final look at Mandy. Does it look like he’s a little scared of her, or is he just really fucking injured and woozy.
Next Week? Johnnie To’s Drug War!!