Wednesday, May 29, 2013
Katharine Isabelle stars in American Mary, the Soska Sisters Horror Drama in the Realm of Body Modification
Canadian actress Katharine Isabelle has starred in her fair share of horror films, and is perhaps best known for her ground-breaking work in the Ginger Snaps trilogy. The Vancouver native has a hefty resume of film and TV work in all genres and this year alone she has five TV projects and six films in release. Isabelle returns to her roots in American Mary, a body modification horror drama from the Twisted Sisters, a.k.a. Jenn and Sylvia Soska, in which she plays a gifted medical student who seeks vengeance and satisfaction in extreme surgery after a life-altering moment.
We chatted with Isabelle about the film. Read our Q&A below.
Did the subject matter get under your skin?
Katherine Isabelle: No. Fortunately the Soska girls were going through the world of body modification and finding what I needed. They were not letting me wander the Internet on my own. I became educated and knowledgeable instead of being freaked out by the horrors of it. At one point they told me to avoid one extreme site and I didn’t and I was traumatized.
Are the Soska Sisters into body modification?
KI: They became interested in this through an Internet story about identical twins who had exchanged their arms like the twins in the movie and they were fascinated by it. Sylvia wasn’t creeped out by this as much, realizing people would never understand how close twins are unless you were a twin. She thought it was fascinating and even though it was an April Fool’s joke it scared her and things that scare her she immediately researches and finds out as much as she can about it. She did and she wound up bullshitting to Eli Roth about having a script about a medical student and she would make it available and he wanted to see it, so they had to write one! (The film is dedicated to Roth.)
You’re Mary, the strong protagonist. Are women like this rare in horror?
KI: It’s rare in general and to find a character that is so much on a journey and so unique and with no redeeming qualities. She isn’t likeable, she is never smiling or charming or friendly and she’s always trying to mess with people. And then you find you’re in love with her at the end. She hasn’t earned it or gained it, especially in horror. She is not a victim and not just the girl. She is so much more complex.
How was it shooting one character that, over the course of the movie, changes so much that she becomes someone new?
KI: It was definitely well thought out and well planned, but in the beginning she is less put together. The severity of her appearance in general says a lot and that was all to reflect the severity of her feelings and as though she repressed her humanity.
Mary attends a party with her medical professors and was drugged and raped, which was the birth of her warrior self.
KI: She should have known better. She was too trusting and wanting to believe that she was important enough to be in the profession as an equal rather than a sexual being.
Is she a feminist because she was victimized or do you see her without gender?
KI: Yes, without gender. In the movie she dresses overtly sexual and she’s surrounded by people who see only sex. She was really beyond sex and feminism.
There is one moment of vulnerability when you’re on the phone with your grandmother and speak to her in her own language. Where did that come from?
KI: The Soska’s are Hungarian and close to their grandmother so they taught me how to say a greeting. It’s her only intimate relationship, and when she dies, that’s it. It’s over.
I’m scared of horror films, but enjoyed American Mary because it is a solid character drama. You’ve done a lot of horror, so I guess it doesn’t disturb you.
KI: I don’t really like horror films either, I feel the same way. But this one my mother was able to watch. I like shooting them, but I don’t like watching other peoples’ horror films.
You’re shooting another horror film, Torment in Vancouver now?
KI: Yes, and it’s tormenting me.
American Mary screens across