American Mary (2012/13)




Body modification is a subject I'm not all too familiar with. Permanently changing my physical appearance because I'm not happy with how I am is a foreign concept. Not to judge, if that's your deal, good for you. You want to have horns stuck in your forehead - go for it. Me? I'll just do some extra push ups each day. Too each there own. The Twisted Twins (Jen and Sylvia Soska) have chosen the subject of body modification as the back drop for their second full length feature.

Mary (the wonderful Katherine Isabelle) is a struggling surgical student. She's wonderfully talented, but faces the same issues a lot students face. Her teachers are assholes, she misses her family, and is really short on cash. Seeing no possible way to remedy the first two situations she seeks a quick and easy remedy for the third. Answering an add to be a waitress as a seedy strip club, she finds herself being asked to perform a risky surgical procedure halfway through the interview. The whole thing makes her sick. But not long after a dancer from the club shows up at her (too nice for a poor student) apartment asking for help for a friend. Reluctant, but still in need of cash she pulls off the risky body modification procedure.

Invited to a party by her professors, things quickly get out of hand. Drugged and raped she stumbles home and looks to exact her revenge. It's while extracting this revenge that her reputation as the "go to girl" for modification grows. People come from around the world to see Mary for their needs. Her satisfaction in her work grows in line with her confidence. She partners with the club owner to dole out some twisted form of justice to those that have wronged them. Then the detective shows up. He's looking for info regarding the professor that raped Mary and is now missing. That's when things kind of fall apart. For Mary and for the film.

The first hour of the film it's literally spellbinding. The way Mary is introduced and developed within the first 10 minutes should be taught in film schools around the world. The horror comes at you fast and furious. Mary does horrible things to people, but it makes sense. It's justified. The script is tight. It Moves. It's wonderful. Then it just stops.

The real failing of American Mary is it's third act. With the first two acts moving like gang busters, the third just slows to a crawl, before the film comes to an abrupt end, invoking tertiary characters that require a visual call back to even remember who they were. The secondary characters weave through underdeveloped sub plots to one of the most unsatisfying endings I can recall.

There are some tremendously shocking scenes and visual images throughout the film. Viscerally it's very akin to what Richard Bates Jr. was able to do with his feature film Excision. Overall, it's a darker film than that one, but there is still enough overlapping subject matter to warrant comparison.

Katherine Isabelle is, as you would expect, awesome. She is dark and playful, mysterious and open all at the same time. It's unfortunate that the rest of the cast lets her down. The performances by the guys playing her professors are cringe worthy. I actually felt bad for Isabelle having to act opposite of them.

American Mary is a very good film. Is it as good as others say it is? Personally I don't think so. Are the Soska twins on their way to becoming tremendous film makers? I certainly believe they are. There are a lot worse ways to spend an hour and a half. American Mary is currently available in Blu Ray and DVD. Check it out.

*** 1/2 out of *****

Enjoy every sandwich.

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