Cinemacabre, News and Events

TADFF 2012 reviews: American Mary and Grabbers

on October 19, 2012 | Leave a comment

[RM contributor Charlotte Stear checks in with a pair of reviews from the Toronto After Dark Film Festival. And in case you need a reminder, the festival continues tonight with Rue Morgue's CineMacabre Movie Night screening of Inbred!]

American Mary (USA/Canada)
Starring Katharine Isabelle, Antonio Cupo and Tristan Risk
Written and directed by Jen and Sylvia Soska

Mary (Katharine Isabelle) is medical student trying her best to become a surgeon. Despite her hard work and dedication to the field, money problems soon put her in an awkward position; hitting an all-time low, she replies to an ad for a strip club. This leads her to a surprising change of direction in an underworld of surgeries that promise easy money, but ultimately have a much higher cost.

Katharine Isabelle is hypnotic as Mary, and her dry delivery of dialogue produces laughter in the oddest of places, which is much needed for some of the dark places this film goes. From genital modification to twins wanting to share a little too much (oh, hello, amazing Soska Twins performance!), you’re never sure of where this film is going next. There are some great subplots and twists that keep you on your toes, not to mention scenes that you will haunt you when you turn the light off at night.

The Soska Twins have brought us an incredibly original, disturbing piece of work with their latest effort. If you thought Dead Hooker in Trunk showed the girls had potential, American Mary cements this. Prepare yourself for more; they have a lot to give.

Grabbers (Ireland)
Starring Richard Coyle, Ruth Bradley and Russell Tovey
Directed by Jon Wright
Written by Kevin Lehane

Garda Lisa Nolan (Ruth Bradley) transfers to a small island off the coast of Ireland expecting a couple weeks away from the hectic crime life of Dublin. However, strange things begin to happen and the islanders soon realise they are under attack from alien creatures. When the creatures’ weakness turns out to be alcohol, it means only one thing: a massive piss-up for the entire town.

Being able to make fun of yourself is a great quality to have, and though stereotypes can often be unoriginal, Grabbers uses them in a way that makes for a fantastic little movie.

The cast is great, especially the supporting turn from Russell Tovey as an incredibly English marine biologist. The chemistry between Bradley and Richard Coyle, who co-stars as Garda Ciarán O’Shea, makes their simmering romance believable. (Ed. note: For my fellow Yanks out there, “Garda” is a title that refers to the Garda Síochána, which is the Irish police force. Knowledge is power! — A.S.)

Underscoring it all is a great love for Alien, from the way the Grabbers attach themselves to the faces of their victims, to Garda Nolan shouting, “Get away from him, you cunt!”, the filmmakers successfully make little nods to a classic that inspired them.

Grabbers surprises with its buckets of blood and a number of jumps. While it may not always hit the right note (towards the end it seems to lag a little), it’s a lot of fun and gets you in the mood for a pint or two – alien invasion or not.


The Toronto After Dark Film Festival continues through October 26. For more info, check out the festival’s official website.

Charlotte Stear

Tags: American Mary, Grabbers, Jon Wright, Soska sisters, Soska twins, Toronto After Dark Film Festival, Twisted Twins Productions

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