AMERICAN MARY (2012)

AMERICAN MARY (2012)
Movie Review by Nick Cato

 american-mary-posterA favorite on the film festival circuit in 2012 and the latest from directors Jen and Sylvia Soska, AMERICAN MARY came directly to pay per view and had a limited theatrical run this past May.

Meet Mary Mason. She’s in medical school studying to be a surgeon. Her professor thinks she has the goods (despite yelling at her for texting in class…I didn’t know students were yelled at in college?) and Mary is indeed dedicated; she even practices suturing on turkeys in her spare time. But her funds are running low, and Mary realizes she needs to make some serious cash or she’ll be studying for her finals as a homeless person…without her cell phone.

She visits a local strip club, intending to audition for the sleazy owner, Billy, who is taken aback by her resume (because, you know, all stripping jobs require one). But in the middle of her “audition,” the club’s bouncer interrupts Billy and demands his presence in the basement. He returns (remembering Mary’s medical resume) and asks her if she wants to make $5,000.00 in cash. She follows him downstairs to find a man slashed from scalp to navel. With the five grand before her, she agrees.

Before long Mary is making a ton of cash as an underground surgeon for Billy, who is apparently involved with all kinds of shady trades. She also begins to work with people looking to have unusual body modifications, and her reputation on the underground circuit grows quickly.

Meanwhile, her professor invites her to a “high-scale” party where he drugs and rapes her.

The rest of AMERICAN MARY is basically a revenge film, as she goes to extreme lengths to get even with her professor for his evil deed. Now with her back turned to the professional medical community, Mary continues to cater to those who can afford her services (including filmmakers Jen and Sylvia Soska in a small role as twins looking to have their left arms switched), although a detective begins asking her questions in the wake of her professor’s disappearance and eventually comes crashing down on her.

The film reminded me somewhat of EXCISION (2012), but where EXCISION features a few truly disturbing sequences, I only found one scene (when we first see the modified professor) to be even slightly chilling. Star Katherine Isabelle does a good enough job, although I think many might have a hard time buying the idea that a favored medical student would throw everything away in the face of low funds and a perverted professor (with the right lawyer Mary could have sued him for all he was worth!).

AMERICAN MARY paints a world where all men are dogs (even the upright detective annoys us the second time he’s seen) and where female empowerment comes via barbaric surgeries. It can get gruesome at times, but it’s not half as graphic as some early reviews suggested.

This is worth a view, if only to see a vast improvement on the part of the Soska sisters as directors (aside from a few shorts, their only other full length was the campy but forgettable DEAD HOOKER IN A TRUNK from 2009). Once they learn to build suspense and tighten up their scripts, I can see some good things coming from them. Their black hearts seem to be in it … now they just need to work on the execution (full pun intended). I give this one 2 and a half knives.

© Copyright 2013 by Nick Cato

 

Mary (Katherine Isabelle) goes to work in AMERICAN MARY.

Mary (Katherine Isabelle) goes to work in AMERICAN MARY.

Nick Cato gives AMERICAN MARY ~ two and a half knives!

 

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