I picked up the DVD of ‘American Mary’ for a cheap price and it sure isn’t cheap because it’s bad. This is a unique and chilling horror written and directed by the Soska sisters. It’s one of those more terrifying ideas due to its link to real life horrors of mutations and body surgeries.
The lead of the struggling student Mary is fantastically played by Katharine Isabelle. She switches from vulnerable to nasty to empowered to sexy throughout her performance. It’s a strong female role that does play on her sex appeal but that’s there to dominate the men trying to use her and to come across as a powerful surgeon to her clients. The idea is simple enough but shot beautifully and artistically, mirroring the idea of the ‘art’ that Mary Mason is carrying out. One scene in particular is gruesome and cuts away leaving the audience’s mind to wander making the impact much worse than if other directors had decided to show the mutilation. Imagination is always more roving so leaving us to picture a more gruesome image than could have been shown on the film’s relatively small budget is a good choice.
Mary is an interesting character and it’s an interesting story that is dark and twisted, I did find the ending slower than the pace of the rest of the film. That and some of the music layered over seemed to make the voices sound dubbed when characters were speaking. It’s a bloody and shocking ride though and one scene is horrendous, filled with creepy men and spiked drinks, you know where it’s going but you can’t look away.
spoiler: The ending is pretty good, it does sort of come out of nowhere with only a tiny hint of it’s set up but the metaphor of the closing chapter of Mason’s life is poetic in her committing her own surgery to not die broken or ripped by man. It’s a body conscious world and she want’s to be dead as perfect as can be even if that means sewing herself up as she’s dying.
The film has a few jumpy moments but then that isn’t what it’s going for, it’s aim is to shock in its images of body transformations and there’s no bigger transformation than in the character of Mary herself. I recommend getting it, it’s cheap and chilling.