American Mary is currently available on instant Netflix
One Line Review: Body modification horror is absolutely fascinating.
American Mary (2012) – Rated R
“Medical student Mary Mason is becoming dissatisfied with her path in life, mostly because she’s piling up massive debt. But when she’s offered a lucrative opportunity to get involved in extreme body-modification surgeries, she jumps at the chance.”
Rated R for strong aberrant violent content including disturbing images, torture, a rape, sexual content, graphic nudity, language and brief drug use.
First, I have to post my disclaimer. American Mary does include a rape scene, which is normally an automatic ‘no’ for me. I enjoyed American Mary in spite of the scene in question but viewer beware.
Films like American Mary, The House of the Devil and Erica Summers’ Mister White are why I am willing to sit through all the drek that low budget horror has to offer.
I was initially looking forward to this simply because Katharine Isabelle was the ironic star (American Mary is Canadian). I adored the female coming of age allegory disguised as a werewolf movie, Ginger Snaps. The two sequels were also very enjoyable if not up to the level of the original. Unfortunately after that I have only seen her pop up in guest appearances.
Twins Jen and Sylvia Soska wrote, directed, and produced American Mary. They had previously made the cult film, Dead Hooker in a Trunk. Not only do they appear as twins in American Mary but their father and mother, who remortgaged their house to finance the film, also have cameos as Dr. Janusz and a female officer respectively. American Mary is clearly a labor of love and it pays off.
I do not have a great deal of knowledge in body modification. Tattoos and non-ear piercings were not at all commonplace when I grew up yet most of the people I know now have them including my daughters and son-in-law. When the outrageous becomes common, boundaries have to be pushed further for people to establish their individuality.
American Mary is hard to define as a horror movie. It also is not really a revenge film although that is a theme that runs through it. The Soska sisters have found a way to weave as much body modification as they can into Mary’s descent or rise or empowerment (it can be viewed many ways) as possible.
American Mary is best viewed as an entertaining and fascinating overview of body modification. The storyline is somewhat episodic and does not always gel properly but all of the incidents are fascinating and drawn from real life. Katharine Isabel is engaging as Mary. Tristan Risk, a burlesque dancer, plays one of the more fascinating characters, Beatress Johnson. To say more of her character would be a spoiler.
American Mary is highly recommended.