American Mary: a Q&A with the Twisted Twins
With body-mod horror American Mary out now on DVD, Jamie-Lee attended a Q&A with its filmmakers, the Twisted Twins...
There is one monumental benefit to having a fractured ankle. No, sadly men resembling Gerard Butler and Idris Elba do not offer to carry your microwave meals for one home for you, nor do Vogue models stop you in the street and tell you how well the colour of your crutch matches your smoky eyeshadow. The best thing walking like Tina Turner on a good day can bring you is queue jumping. And what did this allow me last week? A front row seat at a special screening of American Mary with a Q&A featuring director/producer/writer duo Jen and Sylvia Soska, and lead actress Katherine Isabelle.
Aptly naming their production company Twisted Twins, the unique pair have been hailed as the ‘new faces of horror’. Growing up with a penchant for the macabre, collecting weapons, a mutual love of arachnids and gore, the young Canadians have followed in the footsteps of their idols King and Tarantino and have decided take full control by sharing the literal blood and guts of their work.
American Mary follows a young and attractive medical student with hopes of becoming a surgeon. With a promising career ahead of her, she is failing to pay for rent and turkeys to practice on. After a brutal assault by those she reveres, she becomes disillusioned and uses her skills and new-found contacts in a seedy, noir joint to act out her revenge and become an underground body modification surgeon. But this is no freakshow. Mary is seeks revenge in the most fantastically imaginative ways, but also uses her skills to help those refused by conventional doctors. In the most grey of areas, our blood-soaked Mary is a true heroine.
And, after a fantastic reception at last year’s Frightfest, the Twisted Twins and star of the film are back with a whirlwind tour of the UK in the run-up to the UK release. I went to see the film at London’s Prince Charles Cinema. Here’s what they had to say afterwards during an audience Q&A:
Since the FrightFest screening, what’ve you guys been up to?
Twisted Twins: We’ve been whoring out this film. We went to Fantastic Fest, knocked the shit out of each other, [then] Toronto for the Canadian premiere. This film has travelled so much - it’s been amazing. And we’ve started production on the new film…
If you could be surgically attached to anyone living or dead, who would it be and why?
TT: Michael Fassbender! Do I need to tell you how I’d like to be attached?
What was your inspiration for wanting to make a film about people who wanted to change themselves?
TT: I love interesting human beings, and I don’t know what is with Jennifer and I, but every time we see someone who is misunderstood or misrepresented we want to go to war - and no one is misunderstood as much as the body mod community. People always just assume they know everything about them. They do modern day witch-hunts, it’s just they call them freaks; they say the most horrible things possible, and this is an opportunity to educate people, not only about the community but the way we treat people based on appearance and personal choices.
And it was a real honour to actually have people from the mod community come on-board, make sure we weren’t taking too much of a piss with their fantasy version and have it based in reality. Because at the end of the day it’s not prosthetics, it’s not makeup, these are awesome life choices that these people have made - and I think I like horns a lots better than fake tits. But that’s just me.
When you wrote the script, did you have Katherine in mind?
J: Yes, we did. We never ever write for an actor because you don’t know if it’s going to be a total write-off...
S: And I don’t get along with people…
J: But Katy was non-negotiable.
And Katherine, when you saw the script, what did you think?
Katy: I got an email; it was first time directors, identical twin sisters… Oh great, I thought this was going to be fucking awesome! I thought I’d read the first two pages in bed on my Blackberry until it sucks, and then I can at least say I read it. And then I ended up reading the whole 190 pages twice in a row on my Blackberry, going, "What the fuck?"
Mary says at the beginning of the film that it has to be shocking or no one will watch. Do you think that about horror?
[At this point one of the twins demands a hug from the audience member asking the question out of sheer joy. It is believed that he hasn’t washed since.]
TT: Yes. Yes! I always prayed someone would notice that. It has to be shocking or no one will watch it. And it’s foreshadowing.
In terms of structure and actual screenwriting, do you have areas of responsibility?
TT: There is absolutely a clash. An unstoppable force and an immovable object… siblings are really unforgiving, and we pitch each other’s ideas back and forth and cut them down… then we’ll find something that we’re both really excited about then argue over who gets to do what part. Then one plays videogames and tags the other one in.
What kind of research did you have to do, particularly with regards to the medical side of things?
TT: We sent the script to surgeons, doctors, nurses, and flesh artists. There are only two things we fibbed on…
What’s next for you guys?
TT: We have a few projects, but we’re most excited about a film called Bob…
K: I’m doing a bunch of stuff but mostly following these tits around.
American Mary is out on DVD now.
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