KPBS Reviews American Mary

Preview: ‘American Mary’ Wednesday, May 29, 2013 By Beth Accomando A new late-night film series kicks off this Friday at the Digital Gym’s micro cinema. It’s being presented by a group of programmers from Horrible Imaginings Film Festival, Pac-Arts andFilmOut, and with myself as organizer. We call ourselves the Film Geeks and everyone is volunteering their time. The first film is “American Mary,” and represents our dedication to genre films that push the envelope. Sometimes you have to put up or shut up. As a film critic, I talk a lot about film and recommend what you should see and what you need to stay away from. But sometimes talk is not enough. I see being a film critic as being a film activist, my goal is to get good films seen. That’s one of the things I respected about the late Roger Ebert, he ran a film festival to showcase films that he felt were being overlooked. So that’s what the Film Geeks are trying to do and we’re trying to do this for a specific reason. We are all fans of genre and extreme filmmaking and we want to use the new micro cinema at the Digital Gym to cultivate an audience for genre filmmaking and for films that challenge or surprise viewers. I love horror, I love films that take you someplace dark, and I love the fact that this film was made by twin sisters Jen and Sylvia Soska. Women in horror are a rare thing and I just felt compelled to support it. I admire women who don’t let the industry force them into a box making chick flicks...

USA Today Reviews American Mary

Soska sisters scare up a vengeful ‘American Mary’ May 29, 2013 Brian Truitt   Identical twin filmmakers delve into body modification for their latest horror tale. Jen and Sylvia Soska are arguably the best identical twins to happen to horror since those creepy girls from The Shining. The 30-year-old Canadian sisters have spent nearly a decade making influential friends and plying their bloody trade on screen as indie filmmakers, and their latest, American Mary (on video on demand now and in theaters Friday), showcases a scare-fest full of modern sensibilities but also one that’s personal for the sibling writer-directors. It’s already gained a bit of a cult status as an overseas release, and “now my local paper wants to talk to me, so that’s really weird. They seem to strenuously avoid trying to talk to me,” says Jen Soska. “I always told my mom that being identical twins who did horror movies would one day pay off. And seven years later, it’s finally getting somewhere,” Sylvia Soska adds with a laugh. American Mary stars Katharine Isabelle as Mary Mason, a young woman who’s quickly figuring out that neither medical school nor her teachers are what they’re cracked up to be. In need of quick cash, Mary becomes immersed in the underground world of body modification (such as those wanting horn implants, a split tongue or filed teeth), finds she has a knack for it and at the same time seeks retribution against professors who’ve found a way to her bad side. Body modification has been an interest for the Soskas ever since they stumbled on a story of twin brothers who swapped limbs,...

The New York Times Reviews American Mary

Warning: Woman Wields a Scalpel By ANDY WEBSTER – May 30th, 2013 “I don’t think it’s really fair that God gets to choose what we look like on the outside, do you?” says Beatress Johnson (Tristan Risk) in “American Mary,” a new horror movie from the twins Jen and Sylvia Soska. So Beatress has had work done. Lots of work: “14 different surgeries to get me to look like this” — a nightmare Betty Boop, with a synthetic, cartoonish face to supplement her ’50s homemaker dresses and a Kewpie-doll voice uttering the occasional obscene epithet. Beatress is just one fascinating player in this compelling film about appearances and their manipulation. The title character is Mary Mason (Katharine Isabelle), a student in need of fast cash to complete her coursework in amputation surgery. Applying for employment as a masseuse at a seedy strip joint, she soon finds herself operating on men her thug boss (Antonio Cupo) has brutalized in the basement. When word gets out about Mary’s knack with a scalpel, the “body-mod community,” as Beatress calls it (as in body modification), seeks her out for overhauls and touch-ups. Ruby Realgirl (Paula Lindberg), a Jocelyn Wildenstein in the making, asks Mary to excise her nipples and minimize her genitalia. Ruby seeks the neutered look of a doll, because “a doll can be naked and never feel shy or sexualized or degraded.” Mary accommodates her, returns home and vomits, only to apply makeup in the next scene. Who drives Ruby to such lengths? Her husband, for one, and probably men like Mary’s professor (David Lovgren), who drugs and rapes Mary at a...