Scream Queen Girl Gang (Modern Edition)

These are the actresses I’d most like to have a pint and share eyeliner with because they seem cool. And you know, if we ever happened to get into any trouble, then I’d be confident in their ability to help me fight to the death – which is a pretty good quality to pick in a friend. Just saying.

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Freddy Vs. Jason (2003)

Katharine Isabelle

Horror CV: Ginger Snaps, Carrie (TV Movie), Freddy vs. Jason, American Mary, Torment, Hannibal (TV Series)

I adore Miss Isabelle, not least because she’s the lead in a couple of my favourites (Ginger Snaps, American Mary). She’s Canadian (like me) and she’s lovely – and I just think we’d get along.

According to IMDB there was friction on set between her and the director of Freddy Vs. Jason because she refuses to do nudity – and I like that she’s not afraid to stick to her guns. You do you, boo. I just wish she was in way more – my favourite modern-day Scream Queen 4 lyfe.

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Don’t Breathe (2016)

Jane Levy

Horror CV: Evil Dead, Don’t Breathe, Castle Rock (TV Series)

Jane Levy first popped up in Suburgatory and was the best thing in it. Then the remake of Evil Dead came along and she was brilliant. Genuinely. The film itself took fresh liberties with the story which kept it modern and set it apart from the originals (which are amazing) – plus she was the final girl!

Jane herself has gone on to star in Don’t Breathe, a film I wish I liked more and I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore, which is a GREAT movie that also stars one of the other members of this gang (see below). They incidentally also star together in Stephen King inspired TV series, Castle Rock.

I don’t know, I just think she’s cool and hopefully as sarcastic as some of the characters she’s played. Sarcastic is good.

Brittany Snow stars in Screen Gems' thriller PROM NIGHT.
Prom Night (2008)

Brittany Snow

Horror CV: Prom Night, Would You Rather

I feel sometimes like the world needs a doe eyed Brittany to keep things on an even keel – and without Brittany Murphy (RIP), the crown fell naturally to my girl. This Brittany has done the rounds as a teen icon but she’s so much more than that. She’s so convincing in Would You Rather than I often think about that film and how I’d fare in the same situation. She can also tow the line between popcorn movies (the Pitch Perfect trilogy) and lesser appreciated indies (Bushwick).

Brittany has been quite open about her struggle with depression and self-harm in the past and in 2010 she started the Love is Louder movement to support anyone feeling mistreated, misunderstood or alone – which is awesome.

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Melanie Lynskey

Horror CV: Rose Red (TV Mini-Series), XX (segment “The Birthday Party”), Castle Rock (TV Series)

I love Mel, the Indie Sweetheart. Jill and I are such fans we enjoyed a Melanie Lynskey month on the Blog Collab in 2017 – spurred on by the aforementioned I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore. We both heavily related to her seriously pissed off character Ruth who is driven to drastic action when she’s let down by the feds following a burglary.

Imagine my delight then when she popped up as Mary in the St. Vincent directed segment of XXX called Birthday Cake. Now she’s rocking her part in Castle Rock alongside Jane Levy – and even though I’ve been quite slow on the uptake, I’m enjoying her very much in it.

Melanie is my age so she’d get my pop culture references and she looks like a laugh so I’m confident we’d be the best of all BFFs.

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American Horror Story: Cult (2017)

Sarah Paulson

Sarah Paulson would be our mate from out of town who pops up occasionally to hang out. I don’t need to go into why she’s great as I’ve been banging on a lot about American Horror Story lately, she just is.

And that, my friends is my Scream Queen Girl Gang.

Who would you choose?

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Big Screen Girl Gang 

I stole this idea from last month’s Cosmopolitan, not going to lie. It was lying around in the gym last night and I take my inspiration where I can get it. Cosmo’s version has more of a single girl flavour though, choosing to celebrate the solo babes of cinema in line with the release of Bridget Jone’s Baby.

I’m just picking the 8 movie women I’d most like to hang with and why, because why wouldn’t I? It’s an awesome plan.

In no particular order:

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Who? Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo)
Why? Look, Lisbeth isn’t exactly warm and fluffy, I know this. Hugs might be a little light on the ground but when it comes to loyalty, there’s nobody more so. I’m all about that and appreciate it in friends. Plus, if I accidentally ever send a dodgy email to somebody, who better than Lisbeth to intercept it before it gets read?
What she’d teach me: How to actually use my laptop for more than just streaming Netflix and buying toot.

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Who? Beatrix Kiddo AKA The Bride (Uma Thurman, Kill Bill: Vol. 1 & 2)
Why? She’s just very cool and focused. I could use inspiration like that in my life. She also has the whole revenge thing down pat so I know, if anyone ever really hurt me, she’d have some tips on how to deal.
What she’d teach me: How to be handy with the Japanese steel, or failing that, a stick from the park.

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Who? Alabama Worley, née Whitman (Patricia Arquette, True Romance)
Why? Alabama is sweetness personified with, like me, a love of martial art movies and pie. She also believes in true love and girl, you got me there. Love is the only thing that really matters in life as far as I’m concerned, be it romantic, parental, whatever – there’s a reason it makes the world go round.
What she’d teach me: How to be creative and strong in a fight, whilst rocking the shit out of leopard print and candy-coloured Lycra.

My tribute to Alabama, here.

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Who? Mary Mason (Katharine Isabelle, American Mary)
Why? Mary would be the hot friend I had a bit of a thing for. She’s an academic but she’s also open to trying new and bizarre things. The desire to accompany her on these adventures would hopefully rub off on me. She’d likely be the most open-minded of the gang and ferociously feminist, which is fine by me.
What she’d teach me: To express myself better. How to be braver when I get piercings.

My review of the film, here.

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Who? Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy, Ghostbusters)
Why? She’s so fun and smart, and rocks a boiler suit like nobody’s business. She’s also not afraid to fight for what she believes in (ghosts), even when the rest of the world is rolling their eyes at her and her team. She’d probably make me look cleverer just by association.
What she’d teach me: Sciencey shit and how to wield a proton pack (like I wouldn’t ask to try it).

My review of the film, here.

Gilmore Girls TV Series starring Kelly Bishop and Edward Herrmann as Emily and Richard Gilmore - dvdbash

Who? Emily Gilmore (Kelly Bishop, Gilmore Girls)
Why? Not technically a ‘big screen’ character but Emily stays. (She was in Dirty Dancing and a load of other films, what more do you want from me?). Em might seem like a controversial choice with a few decades on the rest of us but man is she good fun. Appreciates a damn good drink, always comes through for her loved ones and is the sassiest person in the Stars Hollow area (yes I know she’s a way out of town). You’d always be drunk and/or laughing your arse off round Emily’s.
What she’d teach me: How to burn my haters with the flick of my tongue (not like that, you pervs).

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Who? Margaret (Lisa Haas, The Foxy Merkins)
Why? Why not? She’s so adorable. A bit bumbling but then so am I. She’s a hooker in the loosest sense of the word and one could argue, the worst of all time which just makes her more endearing. Margaret would most certainly be the ‘Bad Sex’ storyteller of the group. TBH I’ve just been reminded of the single best quote in cinematic history, uttered by Margaret about her plus size vagina to “The Mumbling Erotic Accessory Salesman” trying to sell her a merkin.
What she’d teach me: How to be resourceful when I’m down and out.

My review of the film, here.

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Who? Barb Holland (Shannon Purser, Stranger Things)
Why? Barb’s another small screen sensation but I was hardly going to exclude her from my dream girl gang, was I? Every squad needs a sensible type and Barb’s not a great drinker, is the designated driver and will worry about my morals for me (although p. sure that ship has sailed and circled the globe several times already). I’d keep her away from pools and beer cans though, she’s a bit of a liability.
What she’d teach me: To make the right decisions. Maybe. Probably not. But she’d try.

My tribute to Barb, here.

~

Who do you choose for your Girl Gang? ❤

The Final Girl

American Mary
American Mary (2012)
I realised the other day, in the horror movie of my past life, that I am the Final Girl.

I’d already typed this post up a few times but when I read back my words they felt so clinical, nowhere close to what I wanted to say. It might be construed as unhealthy to look back on bad points in time but I do it to show myself how far I’ve come. Like, gurl, you survived that all on your own (with a little help from my friends, obvi).

So I’m retyping this from the heart because a) I want to pay homage to the Final Girl (and myself) and b) I think it’s important to revisit every now and again. Kind of like a modern-day Ghost of Lives Past. But first, to the Final Girl theory and what it all means.

If you’re any sort of a Horror fiend like me (and I’m starting to believe I really know nothing compared to some of the horror-heads in my life), you will already be well-versed in the Final Girl as a concept. If you don’t recognise it as a traditional horror trope, you will know, and probably love, plenty of final girls.

Halloween (1978)
Halloween (1978)
In my own words, the Final Girl is a Horror movie euphemism most dominant within slasher films, such as Halloween (1978) (God bless you Laurie Strode). It refers to the last woman left alive to face her antagonist, usually to tell the whole bloody tale.

It is important to point out that the Final Girl may be the last survivor of the horror but she doesn’t always live happily ever after (or at all). She is usually seen as more morally sound than the rest of her peers, often brunette in contrast to her blonder friends (not saying this is right or fair), sometimes academic, sometimes the only stability in another character’s life, a sibling or a parent. What makes her stand out from ‘the rest’ is the fact these moral standards never slip.

Sometimes she may veer away from the good girl stereotype (and don’t be mistaken, she’s not always a recognisably ‘good’ character). She may take on questionable characteristics in her fight to the bitter end but the back bone of what she believes will remain.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
When I think of the Final Girl, I always think first of Sally (Marilyn Burns), only survivor of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974). Bloody, limping and semi-naked, this FG runs for dear life through the brush and only just escapes as Leatherface (whose weapon of choice is rather obvious) dances maniacally behind her.

Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) of the aforementioned Halloween movies may be the best known Final Girl but there are lots of just as interesting ones.

Most notable for me are: Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell, the Scream movies), Mia (Jane Levy, Evil Dead remake), Sarah (Shauna Macdonald, The Descent), Kirsty Cotton (Ashley Laurence, Hellraiser I & II), Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara/Noomi Rapace, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and sequels, as well as the books) and Mary Mason (Katharine Isabelle, American Mary), who’s own arc takes her from victim to perpetrator quite quickly, turning the whole issue of moral code on its head. This doesn’t stop her being one of my very favourites (I just fucking love the film, okay).

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Don’t Breathe (2016)
I recently watched Don’t Breathe (2016) which has a great example of the Final Girl at play (thanks Meghan Lightle). While the film for me was a little disappointing and messy – *SPOILER ALERT* – Rocky (Jane Levy, who also plays Mia in ED (2013)) is a fine Final Girl, rough around the edges, sure but with a strong sense of family (lovely younger sister, hateful mother, dreams of escape).

Of course this doesn’t excuse her actions but it does make you want her to get out and, once the true horror of her situation unravels, you root for it even more. Whether she gets out clean to start her new life with her kid sis is for you to find out but she’ll damn well give it a go.

She might not be the most empowered horror heroine I’ve ever seen but strength is conveyed in different ways (see the contrast between Game of Thrones’ current FGs*, Sansa (Sophie Turner) and Aria Stark (Maisie Williams) for a good illustration of this) – and sometimes the proof is in the pudding.

You see where I’m coming from with the Final Girl analogy, right? We are all final girls, or we can be. For a minute there I almost succumbed to surrender, to waving the white flag and accepting my fate: not actual death but the not living either equivalent. I wanted death, prayed for something, anything to stop the pain and then one day it did, turns out it was my own squeaky voice. The fight, when it comes, is the most beautiful feeling in the world.

To all the Final Girls onscreen and all the Final Girls IRL, I feel you. ❤

Wikipedia’s take on the Final Girl is here.

*LOL

Please note, this is supposed to be a lighthearted(ish) look at the end of a shit relationship. A lot of women don’t escape their own horror and I’m thinking of them too. ❤

Happy Birthday and a Half: The Great Blog Collab

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A change from the norm this week but still very much on brand, don’t you worry.

It’s Jillian & Christa’s Great Blog Collab‘s 18 month anniversary (phew) this week and since it’s kind of a big deal to us (and hopefully a few of you), we decided we shouldn’t let the occasion pass without sticking a celebratory pin in it.

So this week we both present to you a little glance back at our top 5 favourite movies from our blogs, a couple of absolute turkeys (I feel we may overlap here) and a handful of honorary mentions because some films are just noteworthy in ways that don’t translate into ratings, you feel me?

A special thank you to Jill for thinking this one out logistically, and catching the anniversary. I’ve been feeling fried for the last few weeks and feel as though I’ve brought almost nothing to the table in terms of our collab, hence another Free for All theme this month.

I’m starting to feel brighter and more inspired than ever though, and am excited for this post and our future reviews.

To my Top 5! (5 of 10)

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American Mary (2012)

I loved this movie so much when I first saw it and although I haven’t revisited it since, I think of it often. At the time of reviewing it, I accepted that it was imperfect even though I didn’t hesitate to slap a 5/5 rating on it. The ending is disappointing, though I’m not sure Mary could have just walked off to a normal life after everything she’d seen and done, even if I wanted it for her.

I find the body modification community fascinating and wonder how close to the bone this really is. In terms of taking back control and self-expression, it’s a wonderful tale and although you could argue that, in her pursuit of vengeance, our girl becomes just as bad as the perpetrator of the crime that changes her forever, it’s a fantasy and I’m with her all the way. I love the power Mary wields and the ways in which she empowers her clients. Female-centric horror written and directed by women? More please. Ps. Katharine Isabelle, ILY!

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The Wolfpack (2015)

This documentary, that follows the bizarre lives of The Angulo Brothers; Bhagavan, Govinda, Jagadisa, Mukunda, Narayana and Krisna, is so special I feel it’s left a lasting impression on my heart. Funnily enough it came up in conversation with a friend earlier this week and our talk made me want to see it again. (BTW, I’ll reveal more soon but I have a very special project coming up and I think you’ll love it).

I often wonder what the boys are up to now, yet I can’t bring myself to look as this film has sealed them in time and left them on a high, despite their weird and wacky inner world. I need to live my life knowing that they’re all fine and happy.

If you enjoy something different, positive and heart-warming, then I can’t recommend this enough. (I’ve deliberately told you nothing here so you go in with no information. Trust me, it’s worth it).

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Wetlands (2013)

I had to choose Wetlands for it’s sheer audacity. It feels like a film designed purely to shit stir. So much of it is ripe for a disgusted reaction; that’s exactly what it wants and gets x 1000. It is refreshing that our protagonist is not bound by the usual rules of femininity though, I have to say that. She’s crazy for sex, will try anything once and doesn’t give a flying fuck about being ladylike. It must have been so fun for it’s lead Carla Juri to play this part.

I’ve just bought the book on which the film is based and I hope to pick up soon. I’m curious to see if it’s even more graphic that its movie counterpart. Here’s hoping?

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The One I Love (2014)

I really enjoyed this truly bizarre anti-romance starring Elisabeth Moss and Mark Duplass, about a couple working on getting
back that loving feeling, if only their alternate reality selves don’t fuck it up first. Yeah. This is one you have to follow carefully but it’s interesting film-making with great performances and a Make You Think ending, which is kind of bleak when you really consider it.

Part of the reason I love this movie is because I saw it around the same time as Coherence (2013) which is another alternative reality movie (on a smaller budget) that really messes with your mind. Don’t expect the ending to be spelt out for you in either film, both leave you genuinely wondering what the fuck has happened and how.

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Advantageous (2015)

This film is one of the saddest I’ve seen in recent years with such a powerful message. Passing comment on sexism and ageism, it paints a stark picture of the future, where women of a ‘certain age’ are no longer useful unless they’re willing to sell their eggs (in this era, healthy eggs are like gold dust, see).

Our heroine, Gwen feels forced to make the ultimate sacrifice in order to give her daughter Jules the very best shot at a future and it’s more dramatic than you can possibly imagine, with consequences that will change both their lives forever. The film is fantastic, with excellent acting and if it doesn’t send you hurtling into the arms of your loved ones by the credits, then I don’t know what will.

Pop on over to Jill‘s to check out her contribution to our Top Ten favourite movies (we each picked five). I agree with each of the ones she’s chosen.

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Shelley Duvall & Sissy Spacek in 3 Women (I don’t know why they’re smiling, you won’t be)

Now to my Worst!

A look back at some right turkeys:

Monkey’s Paw (2013)
Without question (and I know Jill will mention it too), our worst film to date. It’s a re-imagining of W.W. Jacobs’ infamous supernatural short story and believe me, spend your time re-reading that five times instead.

This movie is painful to watch, with appalling acting and shit effects. In fact, you’ll be so miserable it’ll have you longing for a paw of your own to wish the pain away. Don’t bother, please. We’ve taken the hit so you don’t have to.

3 Women (1977)
This film is odd as fuck, I won’t lie and it feels like it’s ten years long.All I really took from Robert Altman‘s 3 Women is that Shelley Duvallshould have stayed in the seventies as the aesthetic suits her so well, and vagina mosaics are timeless.

Down to You (2000)
Teen wank but of the worst kind. And here was me thinking I would never meet a highschool/college movie I didn’t like. WRONG!

Sharknado (2013)
This is abysmal but I mention it because I was expecting the best kind of bad. Not so, it’s just terrible. So many much better disaster/shark movies out there to enjoy, and we’ve watched a lot of them…Try Mega Shark vs. Mecha Shark (2014), 3-Headed Shark Attack (2015) or 12 Days of Terror (2004). Alternatively, just watch Deep Blue Sea again (it’s so terribly great).

Honorary Mentions

Some of these movies just deserve a nod, for the reasons listed below.

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“Come on in, the water’s fine.”

Killer Mermaid (2014)

This gets a nod because it’s hysterical in every way. Film wise it’s horrible but oddly only when it ventures into Buffy territory. Could have been excellent, instead it’s good bad gone mad. I will always watch a mermaid movie if it’s offered to me IDGAF!

Lizzie Borden Took An Ax (2014)

It’s a shame in some respects that Lizzie Borden didn’t take an ax to the only copy of this film, thus rendering it extinct. However, we’ve not been that lucky. I’ve included Lizzie because Ricci plays her with such relish but in the end, apart from a little bit of face hacking, this tumbles into a courtroom drama and gets rather dull. Shame, as I love the Lizzie Borden story!

The Hellraiser Films – Hellbound: Hellraiser II (1988) and Hellraiser: Bloodline (1996)

I love love love love love deliciously horrid Julia from the first two Hellraiser movies (played by Clare Higgins). Unfortch, the lack of evil step mum in the subsequent instalments render them not as good. Even if, in Bloodline, we get new Cenobytes, a scenario set during the French Revolution and Pinhead in Space.

Having said that, there are about 69 other Hellraiser movies in the series, so I’m sure we’re not done yet.

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So there we have it, 18 months of appalling, bad, horrifying, great, classy, trashy, unbelievable and downright bonkers movies! And many more to come I’m certain of it.

The Collab has opened my eyes to all the wonders of bad cinema, made me expect more from the things I watch (for real though there’s bad bad and bad great, and never forget it). It has allowed me to embrace the one thing I love the very most: cinema. And even more than that, it brought me something I didn’t know I needed (but clearly did): a great friend with similar cinematic tastes.

Happy Birthday and a Half Blog Collab, and to you my blog wife! *raises cocktail glass in manner of Gatsby*

Don’t forget to swing over to wifey’s for her view on our anniversary.

Don't worry, Christina, normal blog service will resume next week...
Don’t worry, Christina, normal blog service will resume next week…

American Mary (Film) Review

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I’ve wanted to see this movie for a few years and finally found a way to view it recently. It’s been getting some great reviews ever since its release and is kind of a big deal in horror circles. Which is great.

I’ll go into my rating and view on it nearer the end of this post, but I want to put a small disclaimer at the beginning, before I myself get started. First of all:

*This post is rife with spoilers, so tread carefully, my dears*

Secondly, I will review this is a similar format to all the other films we’ve included in Jillian & Christa’s Great Blog Collab; however, I strongly feel that this film should be enjoyed, particularly by horror fans who will adore it, so I’m not going to ruin absolutely every last piece of it with detail. Okay?

We shall begin.

The Film:

American Mary (2012)

Where to Watch:

US Netflix

The Premise:

The allure of easy money sends Mary Mason, a medical student, into the world of underground surgeries which ends up leaving more marks on her than her so-called “freakish” clients. (via IMDB)

The Trailer:

Viewable here.

The Uncondensed Version: 

We open with a close up of a scalpel gliding through flesh. The same flesh is then stitched and as the camera pans out, it become apparent that this is the flesh of a chicken (or turkey). Our heroine, Mary is obviously a dedicated student as she studies into the night, in the comfort of her very best negligee.

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“Relax, I’ve got Thanksgiving sewn up.”

The next day, Mary is admonished in class when her phone goes off. Her grumpy professor is quick to pull her up in front of her peers, though she answers his smug questioning like a pro. After class she apologises and he tells her he’s had enough of twats in his classroom and that she shouldn’t fuck it up since she’s one of his most promising students.

Later on, Mary is in the car park speaking to someone on the phone (a debt collector). Grumpy professor (actual name Dr. Grant), overhears as he’s getting into his car, but drives off without comment.

Mary returns home and wouldn’t you know it? She lives alone in a wonderful Bohemian loft (on her own with a bird). There’s the source of her money issues right there, I have to say. If she downgraded to a bedsit or got roommate for a few months, I think she’d be fine.

While searching online for a way to make some cash, Mary chats to her Nana on the phone, a Hungarian lady who is concerned about young people making love all over the shop. Mary assures Nana she’s watching the wrong TV shows and stumbles across a ‘Non-sex’ job that pays cash.

Mary goes to a strip club, where she meets Poor Man’s Mark Ruffalo, Billy who is a chauvinistic strip club owner (big wow), who makes her strip to prove she isn’t fat. (I got annoyed by the fat joke here because it’s unnecessary, but does illustrate what a pig Billy is supposed to be). He then gets Mary to massage him but whilst this happens, shit kicks off.

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No scrubs.

From Mary’s resume, Billy knows that she is a medical student so he asks her to go with him. He says he’ll give her $5K (CAN) if she does what he says. She’s a little bit dubious, which annoys him, but then she agrees to do anything he asks if he gives her the cash that night (oo-er). Thankfully, it’s not a degrading sex act. Mary is required to sew up a bleeding man who seems to have lost an eye and been sliced up a bit.

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“OUT OUT DAMN SPOT!”

Back home, Mary is sickened by what she’s done and climbs into the shower (semi) dressed. Later she falls asleep on the couch with a baseball bat.

These are the actions of a woman not entirely comfortable with her actions the previous night. She sleeps, just about, but then her phone starts to ring.

Mary answers and is shocked when the caller asks for Doctor Mason. She hangs up. The caller rings again. They chat a little more, with the caller revealing her name but Mary hangs up again, assuring Beatrice that she has the wrong number and the wrong idea.

Mary is back in the kitchen suturing turkeys and gulping down wine when the doorbell goes. The disembodied voice on the intercom announces that it has a package for Mary and Mary lets this person up, which let’s face it is sloppy work.

Since the voice is identical to Beatrice’s from earlier on, it’s no surprise when she appears inside Mary’s airy loft (not a euphemism). The surprise, instead, is that Beatrice has a distinctive look and is seeking unorthodox assistance from Mary, for a friend (it’s always a friend). Mary is unconvinced until they talk figures and is persuaded to at least show up by the promise of $2K (CAN).

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Boop boop be doop

Mary arrives at Beatrice’s niece’s place of work, a veterinarian’s surgery (convenient) and still isn’t sure what she’s let herself in for. Bea (who is my favourite character and hands down the most adorable creature I’ve ever seen), suggests that Mary speak to her friend, Ruby to find out what she wants herself.

Mary meets Ruby, a real-life Barbie doll fashion designer who gives Mary a speech about dolls and the non-sexualisation of said dolls. It becomes apparent that Ruby would like her nips removed, please and her va-jay-jay sealed up (I can see obvious issues with this plan, but who am I to judge?). Mary takes about 25 seconds to decide that she’s cool with this arrangement and soon gets to work.

The surgery scenes are actually very well done (and I credit the female directors for this). They aren’t for the squeamish but they aren’t gratuitously gruesome. Mary, in fact, is quite tender with her first (second) patient and it’s quite touching. After the deed is done, Mary tells Bea what to do with Ruby, aftercare-wise, and then tells her not to give her details out to anybody else.

As Mary is leaving, Bea asks her what she wants to be called on Ruby’s website, as she will have to be mentioned in some way to the body modification community. Mary says she doesn’t mind. After the surgery, Mary is sick again but recovers much quicker.

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Something bad is going to happen to you, Mary! DO NOT DRINK THE DRINKS

Round about here I’m going to hold back a little and just tell you that Bea turns up again (Yey! I was worried she’d be a one scene wonder) and gives Mary a present from Ruby. Mary goes about her bizniz at the hospital (being a proper student, yo) and gets in with Dr. Walsh, an important looking surgeon at the hospital.

He invites her to an exclusive drinks party at an undisclosed address later that evening, stating that everyone is very impressed with her and that Dr. Grant (Grumpy professor) had recommended that she be invited. She arrives wearing the amazing dress gifted to her by Ruby.

Basically, all the red flags are flapping as Mary enters the party but she doesn’t notice because she’s a good, conscientious girl. Something bad does happen to her and it’s nasty (and hard to watch). Though it is a necessary scene in terms of setting the tone of the rest of the movie, so I understand why it had to be included.

Once home, Mary has visibly changed and she wastes no time. Revenge is on her mind and this is where Billy (and his lovely henchman, Lance) come back in. I should say here that I forgot to mention a conversation Mary has with Dr. Grant at the party, before her horrifying ordeal begins. The gist of it is this, he tells Mary that as long as they make no mistakes as surgeons, everything else they do is forgiven (RED FLAG, MARY! RED FLAG!). Mary doesn’t buy this (because she is inherently good) but takes it on board.

But back to vigilante justice. Billy and Lance deliver a special care package to her loft in the form of one Grumpy professor. The message is clear: don’t rape people. Ever.

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“This is going to hurt you a helluva a lot more than it’ll hurt me, fucker!”

Mary is starting to show more of any interest in the body modification community, having stumbled across a website called abstrakt.me. This leads to some creativity thinking and thankfully she now has a guinea pig to practice on. Eek!

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I love me an alternative film poster!

Mary gets good at the old body mod and starts to drum up a nice little business for herself. Lance seems to be on the payroll now too, which I love (he’s so cute!). Meanwhile, a detective appears and he’s investigating the disappearance of Dr. Grant. He’s been given a list of students Dr. Grant may have harmed (by Dr. Walsh) and he wants to talk to them. Mary plays it cool and the Detective seems well-meaning but leaves.

Billy is falling in love with Mary and keeps dreaming about her. Mary tells him about the Detective and Dr. Walsh’s involvement. He asks her if she wants him to take care of Walsh. She says no.

Beatrice takes Mary for coffee and they stop off at Ruby’s studio for some information that Bea wants her to have. While there, Mary sees a picture of Ruby with a man. Bea tells her it’s Ruby’s husband. Bea then reveals that abstrakt.me are interested in Mary’s work and want to meet with her. She agrees to meet them at Billy’s club.

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Mary thought the job interview was going well

The twins sent by abstrakt.me (or are they abstrakt.me?) make quite the entrance and head to Billy’s office. They lay out their plans to Mary and tell her that she has quite the following. They also tell her that she’s referred to underground as ‘Bloody Mary’. They advise her that she needs to think about all this herself and consider setting up her own website as people will be looking for her. She asks them if they’re free Friday for their body mod op.

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Twisted sisters (and the Directors of this very flick, the Soska twins.)

Mary performs the procedures requested by the twins and then goes off to do something while they’re still unconscious. I won’t reveal but during this outing, Mary ends up committing her first murder. Shocked and appalled by what she’s done, she calls Billy (who’s busy beating someone up) who sends Lance (lovely Lance). Lance buys Mary dinner and they talk about how bad she feels.

Lance breaks it down, telling the story of a woman he knows who was horribly abused by an intruder and found four days later. He says he wishes he’d known Mary back then. He then tells her to never devalue what she does and just make sure the people she chooses deserve it. This speech cheers her up no end, so well done Lance, you cutie.

Mary moves because she’s got loads of cash now and starts to take pictures in her professional looking studio for her website. As she’s pottering around, having just completed a dick splitting op, the Detective appears again and tells her that Dr. Walsh is now missing. He then tells Mary that they found a video of the girls Dr. Grant has abused. She asks if she is on the tape. He says she wasn’t but that he still believes she was one of his victims.

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“Come on a trip?” “Maybe.”

Turns out Billy has involved himself even though she asked him not to and has the tape. He lurves Mary, you see. Sadly she walks in on him being sucked off by a stripper. Mary gets a little jealous so we know she likes him too. He tells her that he needs a change of scenery and is thinking of driving down to Cali. He asks her to go with him and she says she’ll think about it, as she might need a change too.

She heads home… and there’s an ending. You can figure that out for yourself.

The Critique:

Loved it. Loved it, loved it, loved it. I should probably admit that this week was my choice and that this movie has been on my Netflix list for some time. My reason for picking it was purely selfish.

I have a massive crush on Katherine Isabelle obviously, because the fact she’s the lead in this was what peaked my interest in the first place. The plot itself was a close second as I love the idea of self-expression and body positivity that flows throughout. Even if you do feel you have to seek it out through modification (which is A-OK with me). Katherine, you may remember, was also the star of Ginger Snaps, the first film Jill and I collaborated on.

Sure, it’s not a perfect film, there’s probably no such thing (maybe Kill Bill (2003)?), but that’s perfectly fine by me. It’s about enjoyment and this was superb. As I mentioned above, I like the themes involved, I’m also a sucker for vigilante justice.

I think the fact that this movie is presented by women, namely the Soska sisters, has something to do with the way it was handled. It’s graphic to a point but doesn’t ram its message down your throat. When the unthinkable happens to Mary, it’s done in a subtle way. It’s not done in the same way as, say, Last House on the Left (2009). And believe me, as a viewer, this makes a difference, if a scene like this absolutely has to feature for the sake of the story.

It’s inventive, empowering in places (in terms of taking control/fighting back) and it’s fun. It’s definitely one of the best modern horror films of recent times, in my eyes anyway. Katherine is a dream and I also have big love for some of the smaller characters; for Beatrice and for Lance, in particular.

I do feel very strongly about self-acceptance, but I think it’s down to the individual how they love themselves. If arriving at a place of self love means changing things, however big or small, then why not? I know my tattoos are a more socially accepted form of modification and I love them more than anything.

All in all, this was a great film and I hope the horror genre continues to give us more of the same calibre. I’m done with the Insidious films and of never seeing anything new or intriguing.

Incidentally, my sister-in-law is doing a masters in film and is currently working on her second film. She’s focusing (at the moment) on the horror/ghost story genre and, although I’ve always been interested in films of this nature, I’ve been reading more about women in film/horror and it’s exciting. See Screen Queens for a really good blog on the subject. And if you want to, please check out my lovely sis’ production blog too.

The Rating:

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5 surgical knives out of 5

That might seem like a generous rating for an imperfect movie but I’m sticking by it. It was just interesting enough to keep me engrossed until the end (the Soskas have talked about an alternative conclusion, which they almost went with) and I liked the characters, though more padding would have made it even better. Basically, I loved it.

Pop over to Jillian’s to see what she thought.

All images via Google.