Toronto After Dark – American Mary – Jen & Sylvia Soska

It was with some trepidation that I sat down this evening in the wonderfully refurbished Bloor Cinema for the second screening of the night. I’m not a big fan of body horror and while I respect the body modification culture it’s not really my scene.

So I was a little worried going into what looked to be a bloody film that fell into that very category of horror films.

I was wonderfully surprised when instead I was presented with this elegant, if occasionally bloody, piece of cinema, brought to the screen in its Canadian premiere by two talented Canadian filmmakers.

The Twisted Twins – Jen & Sylvia Soska have crafted a film, in which they both wrote and directed, that is sexy, unnerving, and lovely to watch.

Centre stage is the lovely Katharine Isabelle (who first came to my attention in The X-Files but is probably most well-known for her titular role in the Ginger Snaps series). Katharine plays Mary Mason a medical student intent on becoming a surgeon, but increasing money problems and a male-filled field of speciality are beginning to take their toll, so she turns to working in a adult-themed bar.

The bar’s owner Billy (Antonio Cupo of Bomb Girls) having read her resume, offers her $5000 if she will tend the wounds of an injured man.

From there she is slowly drawn into the world of bod-mod and revenge, brought on by a party scene in which you know something terrible is going to happen, and does.

The Twisted Twins have made a fantastic film, filled with dark humour, some odd characters like Beatress (Tristan Risk) and Ruby (Paula Lindberg) (both of whom have incredible make-up effects), wonderfully crafted surgical scenes and a standout performance by Katharine Isabelle.

Isabelle begins as a frustrated, almost naive, definitely innocent character, and through the course of the film, you see her change, grow and develop, taking on a darker, stronger edge that begins to frighten some of those around her.

She changes and embraces her gift, moving from initial repulsion, so bad that upon arriving home she stumbles to the toilet to vomit, to full acceptance of the bod-mod culture. Isabelle has never been better or looked sexier, the Twins seemed to make sure that all of her outfits made her look fantastic, and you simply can’t take your eyes off of her.

The surgical sequences, which may be unnerving for anyone anxious about a scalpel cutting flesh, were anything but squeamish and were done tastefully and left me, if not with a sense of awe, then at least a bemused smile on my face, especially in the sequences involving one of Mary’s former professors played by David Lovgren (the later ones featuring some fantastic effects).

The Twisted Twins, who were on hand last night for a Q&A after the show, and even came out to see and chat with us all in the pouring rain, have made a very enjoyable film that may very well be definitive in regards to the body modification genre, as well as a genuinely engaging dark thriller.

After a fantastic double feature last night (wait until you read the review for Grabbers!), one can’t help but wonder if Adam Lopez, the festival’s creator and director has put the best movies first and what that means for the rest of the festival’s run… I guess we’ll find out tonight.

If you’re worried about not being able to see this film, worry not! The Twins announced last night, that the film has been picked up by Anchor Bay (AWESOME!) for distribution! So watch for it! This film is worth your time!

Check out more American Mary here, as well as on Facebook and Twitter and follow the Soska Twins here.

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