American Mary

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American Mary
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American Mary
Horror, Thriller
IndustryWorks Pictures
January 11th, 2013
Release length: 1:43:00
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Entered into the 2012 Screamfest, American Mark took home five different awards including Best Picture, Best Actess, and Best Director. The film was penned, as well as directed, by Jen and Sylvia Soska, and is set to introduce viewers to some of the most deranged and bizarre concepts of body modification one can imagine. With a solid cast lined up, American Mary has been making waves through the internet community, and shows that Canada is growing into an unstoppable force within the Horror genre. But, is this festival award winning feature film that fantastic an experience, or a low grade attempt that was left in neutral?

American Mary follows the medical student who falls from her teachers-pet graces rather hard, entering a bizarre world of body modification, as well as revenge. In a way, the film was kind of familiar territory, carrying itself a bit like the 2002 psychological flick May. Things start off innocent enough with Mary Mason (Katherine Isabelle) stuck paying a large bill, and answering an ad to be an escort in order to help cover the three hundred plus charge that is late. When interviewed by Billy Barker (Antonio Cupo), the owner of a strip club, he pays her five thousand to help keep someone alive. From this point on, things just spiral out of control for Mary.

Upon applying for the escort job, she brought a resume, which grabs the attention of Cindy Lou Who in adult stripper form, named Beatress Johnson (Tristan Risk), harassing and hounding Mary to help her girlfriend become more like a doll. From here, Mary is begins her trip into becoming an established body modification surgeon. Eventually, a trusted member of her schooling days assumes she’s a prostitute, leading to the start of a rape revenge story line that also boosts her modification surgery career, leading her to become a suspect in a murder as well. Mary starts to lose grip on reality, becoming colder and vindictive the more modifications she does, all before the climax, which is linked to an earlier surgery, brings everything crashing down.

The story isn’t the most unique, and in some ways could be summed up as sort like the Frankenstein tale of body modification. Katherine Isabelle’s limited acting range is put to good use here, showing little grasp of compassion to begin with due to her time practising and studying to become a surgeon, and continues to become less human the more the film goes on. The lust that Billy Barker has for Mary is acting well enough, but really didn’t need any given how the film hits you over the hammer in the least subtle manner that this love story line is being woven with no pay off, and Beatress does a good job at trying to portray Bettie Boop, wearing cosmetics that will remind those who saw the live action How the Grinch Stole Christmas of every person from Whoville. The rest of the cast does their job well, and nobody really just seems to be gliding through the film. But, given how low many people speak in this film, especially Katherine Isabelle’s typical voice, it seems like some of the dialogue may have been thrown in through post production, sounding a bit out of place from what you might expect to hear in the scene given additional noise.

While this does end up a solid film that manages to keep the viewer engaged with many sub-plots that all tie together well enough, many just have no closure, or reason to even occur. Some of them are explained, like the abduction of one doctor introduced earlier and why Beatress won’t leave Mary alone, but there are plenty of plot points that just seem to be removed from the film entirely. Mary takes on the duty of modifying twin sisters in a way that they would be together even upon their death, which ends up a huge point of interest that the film builds up to, but just ends up cast off. There’s also a scene involving Mary’s Nana towards the end that just occurs with no explanation as to what happened, leaving you to assume the obvious, but an explanation would have been nice. But, the worst is the quick, punch out ending that occurs, and given the way the shot is established makes no sense as Mary obviously would have seen what was right in front of her. Sadly, there are no cut scenes on the DVD, so either these omissions were either cut in post-production to meet a certain film length, or they just were never in the script to begin with, which is a major loss and jarring to the flow of the movie.

American Mary is far from a bad film, and manages to tie in various elements almost seamlessly. An naive woman is cast into the world of body modification, gets pulled into mob-like situations, all the while the subtle sensuality ushers in a rape revenge story line that plays through most of the film without feeling tacked on. By the end of the film you want to see Mary win, rooting for her to come out on top. But, with all the gaps in the story, you never get that closure you hope for. American Mary, or should it be called Bloody Mary, which had to have been the initial title of the film since this is given to her directly by Beatress of the characters and appears to be an important moment, is still a twisted experience, and a solid enough début full-length script from the Soska Sisters.

Overall Score: 6.5/10
American Mary
American Mary
American Mary
Physical review copy of this release provided by personal funds.