Everything about American Mary is intentionally sculpted for the realm of horror where the writer/directors – the Soska Sisters – reside. It is a simple realm where style rules over plot. This means everything is on purpose – from title character Mary Mason’s black surgical gloves to the length of her bangs.
Mary Mason is a struggling medical student who can’t pay her bills. She turns to stripping but is immediately forced into the “shady world of underground surgery and body modification”. From the get go, the movie is a bit far fetched and sporadic. Mary’s professor is immediately dropping f bombs left and right, (I didn’t go to medical school, but I maybe heard one f bomb in the two years I was in grad school), she dresses seductively, and doesn’t seem to run when asked to make an emergency surgery in the skeevy basement of a strip club. Next thing you know, a woman shows up at Mary’s doorstep. And this woman, Beatress, has had a massive overhaul of body modification in order to look like Betty Boop. Without much to go on except the promise of a lot of money, Mary agrees to make Beatress’ fellow friend look like a doll in her female regions. Then, Mary is asked by fellow surgeons to meet at a party for drinks, and she shows up in a dress better suited for a sleazy nightclub.
It is more than obvious something bad is going to happen to Mary, and it does.
Soon a cop is after her (he’s British, by the way, complete with British accent), in regard to the disappearance of f bomb professor because, American Mary, underneath this superficial surface of style, is simply a rape revenge movie. We are given many music cues for things like gratuitously long dance scenes in the strip club with Mary in slow-mo, sometimes pouring red liquid down her boobs. And when you don’t think the movie is planted with enough of this style, the twins themselves show up. But they have German or Swedish or Romanian accents or something. And they want body parts swapped. I’m going to just stop there. The breakdown is simple: Style is emphasized while a cohesive storyline is thrown out.
Despite all of this, Katharine Isabelle is perfect in the role of Mary. She plays the roll very similar to how she played Ginger in Ginger Snaps – transitioning easily from the innocent to evil. The quality of the blu-ray is great – visually and sound wise. The film itself is nicely shot and edited. There is a commentary track with the Soskas and a ‘making of’ for special features. And, as stated in the credits of the blu-ray, Canadians films are lucky to have the Canadian government funding part of their production. (Side note: The Soska’s parents apparently remortgaged their home to get funding started for the film.)
The setup of American Mary is promising but soon the film meanders through side stories that never fully pan out to make a feature length story. American Mary only ever fully delivers on the visual of a hot chick (in that horror subculture where the girls have that stylized look) running around scantily clad and occasionally splattered in blood while people with body modifications get cut up. I think people see something different with this film simply because it was made by women. I don’t think there really is much beyond that. It is an already seen concept packaged as something innovative and new. It’s just a reinvention. If that’s your bag, you’re going to love the hell out of this movie and should purchase it. If you are seeking much of anything beyond that, skip the blu-ray.
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