Exclusive: Jen and Sylvia Soska on American Mary, The ABCs of Death 2, and More - Dread Central
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Exclusive: Jen and Sylvia Soska on American Mary, The ABCs of Death 2, and More

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Exclusive: Jen and Sylvia Soska on American Mary, The ABCs of Death 2, and MoreThis week American Mary, the Soska Sisters’ stunning follow-up to Dead Hooker in a Trunk, arrives on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of XLrator Media; and to mark the occasion, we recently chatted with the Twisted Twins about their latest release, what’s next, and much more.

Check out the highlights of our exclusive interview with the Soskas below, and look for American Mary on Blu-ray and DVD everywhere now!

Dread Central: Thanks so much for taking the time to chat today, ladies- you did a fantastic job on the film and created an incredible character for Katharine [Isabelle]. What was it in your minds that made her perfect to play Mary?

Jen Soska: Well, as a rule, we never ever write for a particular actor; we usually have types in mind, but when we’re trying to create characters, we try and put as much of that out of our minds as we can. But we totally broke that rule with Katie because we’ve been watching her for so long and thought it was time she had the opportunity to play a role like this.

Sylvia Soska: Yeah, Jen and I have been fans of her work ever since Ginger Snaps, and we’ve seen every single one of her films since then; Katie is brilliant in everything, but I think we were both frustrated as fans because here is an exceptionally gifted actress who isn’t being offered the ‘grown-up’ or complicated roles I know she can handle. We’re still in this phase in Hollywood where we are getting caricatures of various types of women rather than real women characters, which is really sad to see.

And to us, Katie is the thinking person’s Scream Queen; sure she’s beautiful and has all of the physical attributes working to her advantage, but she also has this intelligence to her that almost supersedes her beauty and her years. It might sound a little strange, but everything that happens in American Mary was something that I personally wanted to see Katie do as an actress and I knew that if we could get her for the movie that she would absolutely kill at it; I think we’re both even bigger fans after working with her on American Mary, which is kind of hard to imagine, but it’s totally true.

Dread Central: When I interviewed Katharine, she mentioned how a lot of Mary’s story also parallels the struggles you both have overcome in the industry over the last few years. How much of what we’re seeing is art imitating life then?

Sylvia Soska: Well, back when we were writing American Mary, we were still in the process of selling Dead Hooker so we were pretty much broke at the time. We couldn’t even afford to eat, let alone afford to make another movie, so we spent a lot of time thinking about our experiences, venturing into the film industry with a lot of naivety at the time. We met a lot of great and supportive people, but we also met a lot of real monsters through the years that made us wonder a lot about whether or not the sacrifices we had been making would ever amount to anything.

Jen Soska: I would say that as we both grew up with the hopes of becoming actresses and filmmakers, we’ve seen some really sleazy things through the years, and we’re still really young, you know? (laughs) But to find out that there are people still today who only view women as sexual objects or think of us as inferior was something that surprised us both and of course made us realize that regardless of how far women have come, it’s just a sad actuality of this business. The people you think you can trust or who maybe seem ‘reputable’ often turned out to be anything but that, and so we came to realize that often times it’s the people who seem normal and respectable on the outside that are hiding their true intentions, and most of the time they’re not good intentions at all. And since that’s something that could easily translate well into the medical world, we thought it would make for some interesting allegories to set this story in the world of a medical student who was quickly learning how the people who you trust and expect to be supportive of you can often be the cruelest.

Dread Central: Katharine also mentioned that she saw Mary as an unredeemable character- was that something both of you were conscientious of while writing the script? Is it harder to pull off creating a protagonist who ultimately becomes an antagonist in some ways by the conclusion of American Mary?

Sylvia Soska: I think one of my favorite quotes was by Clive Barker, who was discussing the character of Pinhead; here’s a character who’s unredeemable, in both of his lifetimes, and yet there are still fans that exist for him worldwide. Why? Because you connected with him, for better or for worse, and giving the audience ways to connect with Mary was always important to both of us.

Jen Soska: To keep Mary a believable character, she was never going to be this ‘hero’- she was going to make a lot of crappy decisions and she had to live with those. In some ways she chose her own ending, but at the same time she also had some truly terrible things happen to her that ended up pushing her towards those decisions so it was a balance in some ways. Ultimately, though, Mary accepted responsibility, which I think was the biggest part of keeping her character authentic throughout the story. She knows she’s been screwed over, but she’s not going to play a victim either so she owns all her decisions, which I think in many ways is incredibly powerful.

Sylvia Soska: I think the best horror films out there are the ones made with a philosophy in mind; you don’t have to agree with that philosophy, but I think a film, horror or otherwise, is always more effective when it has something to say. A lot of films over the last few years have let style dictate their substance – they’re missing that human element that engages audiences – and so it was very important to us that, no matter what decision Mary was making in the film, the viewers still were behind her either way.

Dread Central: It was recently announced that you would be directing a segment in The ABCs of Death 2 so congratulations on that! How incredible is it for you both to be part of the next anthology and keeping some great company as well in regard to the other filmmakers already co-announced?

Jen Soska: It’s so awesome- you really could not ask for better producers than the team working on ABCs of Death. We’re so excited.

Sylvia Soska: I loved the first so much so when they called us to ask us to be a part of the second one, I think we were screaming so loud that our neighbors definitely hated us that day. It’s such a huge honor, and to be in the same class as these other incredible filmmakers almost feels like a dream. We have a few ideas on what we’d like to do, but we’re still working all of that out. It’s going to be a lot of fun though- I can’t wait to get started, and I cannot wait to see how it all turns out in the end.

Written and directed by the Soska Sisters, American Mary stars Katharine Isabelle, Antonio Cupo, Tristan Risk, David Lovgren, Paula Lindberg, Clay St. Thomas, John Emmet Tracy, and Twan Holliday.

For more on the film, visit the official Twisted Twins Productions website, like American Mary on Facebook, and on Twitter follow American Mary (@_American_Mary) and the Twisted Twins, Jen and Sylvia Soska (@twisted_twins).

Synopsis
This metaphor for the Soskas’ own journey through the independent film industry follows medical student Mary Mason as she becomes increasingly broke and disenchanted. The allure of easy money sends Mary into the twilight world of body modification and underground surgeries where obsessed flesh artists will pay anything and go through any pain to get their unusual procedures done. But Mary soon finds that her new “profession” leaves more marks on her own psyche than on her freakish clientele.

American Mary

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Check Out the Opening 2 Minutes of Another WolfCop

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It was just earlier today that we brought you guys The Dude Design’s the newest poster for writer-director Lowell Dean’s horror-comedy sequel Another WolfCop.

And now we have the movie’s opening 2 minutes!

The clip showcases the new flick’s villain trying to sell us on his “Chicken Milk Beer” before losing his cool and taking it out the commercial’s crew. We then cut to a ragtag group of criminals, dressed as homeless Santas trying to outrun the cops.

A fun two-minutes if you ask me!

You can check out Another WolfCop‘s opening scene below and then make sure to hit us up and let us know what you think in the comments below or on social media!

The film is written and directed by Lowell Dean, produced by Bernie Hernando, Deborah Marks, and Hugh Patterson, and distributed worldwide by Cineplex.

Another WolfCop co-stars Amy Matysio, Jonathan Cherry, and Serena Miller. The film also features special appearances from Canadian music icon Gowan and legendary filmmaker Kevin Smith. It was executive produced by Sean Buckley, J. Joly, Bill Marks, Brian Wideen, Michael Kennedy, and Michael Hirsch.

The film is slated for a wide Cineplex theatrical release on Friday, December 8, 2017, with the film seeing a Blu-ray/DVD/Digital home entertainment release through A71 and Black Fawn in 2018.

Synopsis:

A month has passed since the eclipse transformed hard-drinking Officer Lou Garou into the crime-fighting hellion WolfCop. Although the Shape Shifters controlling the town have been extinguished, Woodhaven is far from returning to normal. Lou’s liquor-fueled antics and full moon outbursts are seriously testing his relationship with Officer Tina Walsh – the new Chief of Police. An old friend has mysteriously reappeared with a truly bizarre secret to share, and a homicidal new villain has emerged from the shadows looking to finish what the Shape Shifters started. To defeat this lethal adversary, it will take more than a lone wolf packing a pistol.

Prepare for the next chapter of WolfCop that will be more dirty and hairy than the original! Consider yourself warned.

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Reviews

AHS: Cult Review: Clowns, Cults, Politics, and Peters

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Starring Evan Peters, Sarah Paulson, Billie Lourd, Cheyenne Jackson, Frances Conroy, Mare Winningham, and Allison Pill

Created by Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk


** NO SPOILERS **

It’s here. We’ve reached the end. The newest season of “American Horror Story” has ended and now we are here to provide you guys with our season review of AHS: Cult.

Spoiler free.

To start things off let me say I’m not the world’s biggest fan of “American Horror Story”. It breaks down like this: I enjoyed the absolute hell out of the first season of the series (“Murder House”), couldn’t get through “Asylum” (I know, I know, I’ve tried), dug “Coven” for what it was, really enjoyed “Freak Show”, and again I couldn’t get into “Hotel” or “Roanoke”.

That’s the story of me and “American Horror Story”. Plain And simple. But what did I think of the new seventh season of the notorious horror anthology series? Let’s find out.

Back when the seventh season of AHS was first announced (then going by the title “AHS: Election”) I was immediately intrigued by the new season because I heard it would not include any supernatural elements. Like the fourth season, “Freak Show”.

Now I’m a fan of ghosts and weird creature-men with drills for d*cks, don’t get me wrong. But the series has thus far relied almost exclusively on horrors of the supernatural variety (other than “Freak Show”) so this major change of pace was again welcomed by this guy.

Instead of vampires, aliens, and witches this season relied on terrors of the mind. Psychological fears and anxieties. The horrors man does to man. Deep issues.

Oh, and clowns. Like a lot of clowns.

But just because this new season didn’t include anything supernatural, that doesn’t mean the 11-episode season wasn’t filled with twisted visuals and horrifically disturbing acts. No, sir. This season boasted some showstoppers including S&M, gimps, and a house of horrors that wouldn’t be out of place in a Rob Zombie flick. It was all good.

But let’s backtrack a bit here.

Allow me to rundown the season’s plot for those who may be unaware. “AHS: Cult” tells the tale of a world post-election night. The literal dawn of Trump’s America. In one corner we have Sarah Paulson’s soccer mom, trying to fight through life with a series of crippling phobias (including clowns, holes, blood, and being a good person).

And in the other corner, we have Evan Peter’s angry, white (blue-haired) male, looking to seize Trump’s new position of power to bring about the end of… Actually, I want this to be a spoiler-free season review, so I’m just going to say the dude’s got big plans.

Like Manson-size plans. Let’s leave it at that.

With these two characters established, the new season then proceeds to send them spiraling into a collision course of political sabotage, intrigue, and clown-based nope, nope, nope-ing that can only end with one – or both – of them dead as Dillinger.

Overall “AHS: Cult” belonged end-to-end to Mr. Evan Peters. The young actor has continued to show his striking range from season to season of Ryan Murphy’s horror show and this season was no different. Peters’ turn as not only Kai, the blue-haired leader of the titular cult, but as infamous leaders such as David Koresh, Jim Jones, and Charles Manson – to name a few – owed this season.

I can only hope he doesn’t pull a Jessica Lange and opt-out of more AHS next year.

Speaking of top performances, “AHS: Cult ” showcases some other chilling and memorable turns with Alison Pill’s strangely vulnerable, put-upon wife character being the best next to Peters in my eyes. This actress needs to be in more films/TV!

Along with Pill, actress Billie Lourd killed it time and time again. The “Scream Queens” breakout star and Carrie Fisher spawn was yet again a highlight in her second Ryan Murphy series. Bet she has the starring role in next season. Mark my words.

Add to that, the season also boasts a handful of fun cameos, including John Carroll Lynch’s return as Twisty the Clown, Emma Roberts as a bitchy reporter that will do anything to end up on top, and Lena Dunham as SCUM Manifesto writer Valerie Solanas. The cameo cast killed it and I wish they would have been present for more episodes. What are you gonna do?

On the sour side of the season, I didn’t dig Sarah Paulson’s character. At all. But I’m sure that was the point. Right? I’m still not sure. But, boy, I wouldn’t even want to be stuck in line behind her at a Starbucks for three minutes, let alone spend the better part of this season’s 11-hours with her and her whiny bullshite. Urgh.

That said, she pulled it out by the finale. That’s all I’ll say.

In the end, I enjoyed this season as much as – if not more – than any other of the series. “Murder House” will still no doubt go on as my favorite season of the series, but “AHS: Cult” will rank third after season one and “Freak Show”.

While I was on the fence about the season after three episodes, the show ended up ditching Paulson’s character (and/or shifting her arch) after a lull so the episodes picked up quickly. Whenever the season turned its focus back towards Peters (in whichever incarnation he was playing at the time) the show got better and better. Every time.

Not a bad way to spend my Tuesday night for the past 11 weeks.

Bring on season 12.

  • American Horror Story: Cult (2018)
3.5

Summary

The seventh season of Ryan Murphy’s American Horror Story was Evan Peters’ show all the way through. The young actor pulled out all the stops time and time again to make what may have been a lackluster supernatural-free season a winner.

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The Axiom Review – A Stylish and Clever Slice of Independent Horror

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Starring Hattie Smith, Zac Titus, Nicole Dambro

Directed by Nicholas Woods


The Axiom is an ambitious, well directed, impressively acted and stunningly shot independent horror film that has just a few, teensy little flaws holding it back from greatness (and therefore will have to settle for just being really, really good, instead).

The first thing you realize when watching The Axiom is that this is a beautiful film. Everything is framed and shot in a lush and stylish manner, but one which is always tonally appropriate for the scene.

The second thing you’ll notice, and keep noticing as the film plays out, is that the movie really struck gold with this cast. Not only is there a total lack of the sort of stilted and unnatural acting seen in countless other microbudget horror affairs, but the performances are genuinely fantastic across the board. The main characters are believably chill and relatably normal in the early scenes, and the acting remains just as impressive once things start getting a bit more… intense. It’s not often that an independent horror film has so many good performances that it makes it hard to pick the movie’s acting VIP, but that is undeniably the case here. Taylor Flowers delivers what is probably the showiest performance (and does it very well, indeed), but the entire cast really is quite good.

The central premise of the film is both interesting and original, and touches upon the real life fact (given some recent attention in the ‘Missing 411’ books and documentary) that a lot more people sure seem to go missing out in the woods than seems reasonable, while simultaneously weaving all sorts of folklore, fairy tales and urban legends into the mix. It’s also clever in the way that it very naturally reveals aspects to the relationships between characters that serve to later – or sometimes retroactively – explain some of the more questionable decisions they make or attitudes they display. While that may sound like screenwriting 101, it’s surprising how many films fail to do this. The Axiom rewards the viewer’s attention in other ways as well, with many aspects of the movie that initially feel odd or unnatural receiving reasonable explanations (within the context of the movie) by the end. It’s not quite as challenging (or as rewarding) in this regard as, say, something like Session 9, but it does add a nice layer of complexity to the storytelling.

The film’s score, by Leo Kaliski, is also quite good. There may be a moment here or there where the music hits an overly familiar beat, but overall it not only fits the movie’s tone, but does quite a bit to help set that tone as well.

The only thing that I don’t feel the movie quite pulls off – and I’m trying to be vague here, because I feel like the less you know going into this film, the better – is some of the makeup effects work. The gore stuff is very well executed, but some of the other stuff feels like it was crafted with the intention of shooting it in a more… stylized manner. Instead, filmed as it is here, the result is sometimes less than impressive and can fail to make the impact that the movie seems to be implying that it should. And while some of what the makeup effects lack in execution is made up for with the ingenuity and creativity of their design, it’s still a bit of a shame when they don’t quite pull them off because, aside from a few niggles that I have with the writing, the effects are the only aspect of the film that occasionally fails to live up to the high level of technical proficiency that The Axiom otherwise demonstrates.

ADDITIONAL THOUGHTS:

  • Man, the acting in this movie is really good. The dialogue may stumble once or twice, but these actors always sell it anyway.
  • Give back Mia Sara’s DNA, Hattie Smith!
  • If you’re going to put your female lead in shorts this small, I hope you’re not sensitive to viewers unleashing a nonstop parade of “Has anyone seen my pants / OH GOD WHERE ARE MY PANTS!” jokes.
  • “You just pop this here ‘Blair Witch Stick Person / Anarchy sign’ sticker up on that there windshield of yours, and them park rangers? Well – heh heh – they won’t bother you none, no sir.” Hmmmmm…
  • The film really is shot amazingly well – better than a lot of mainstream releases. Cinematographer Sten Olson has a real future ahead of him.
  • As does writer / director Nicholas Woods, for that matter. Any director who can get this level of quality out of their cast and crew on their first ever film is someone to keep an eye on.
  • “I’ll make a run for it and get help,” says the female lead, and I’m like “Yeah, let her go – she has no pants to weigh her down.”
  • The gore effects in the movie are both realized and utilized very well.
  • Welcome back to horror movies, “I’ll be right back” dialogue spoken unironically by and/or to ill-fated characters.
  • The Axiom
4.0

Summary

In the end, The Axiom is a solid and entertaining flick that manages to wring a level of quality and originality out of the somewhat tired “Don’t Go in the Woods” horror subgenre not seen since 2012’s Cabin in the Woods. The cinematography and acting are hugely impressive, it features a nice, unnerving score, the premise is original and captivating, and the whole thing moves at a nice pace that helps keep the film’s flaws from dragging it down.

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