A Flawed Gem…
After the Soska’s aptly named their last indie effort, Dead Hooker in a Trunk, I was a bit surprised when American Mary turned out to Canadian Mary. To me, it sounds more of a marketing strategy than anything else, but it didn’t deter me from thoroughly enjoying the film. Just got me wondering is all. Katherine Isabelle is always an absolute pleasure to watch, especially in this genre of film. She lights up the screen with her looks, but here, she gets to show her much darker side, and when strutting about in her undies and shiny black apron, it turns out to be most effective. Her withering gaze, mixed with those looks was a sight to behold. Just look at the inset picture for proof.
I’m certainly not ignorant when it comes to body modification, and have watched several extremely interesting documentaries on the subject, but I learned a helluva lot from watching American Mary. I can’t say I’m taken with this subject and find some of it downright bizarre, but when blended with horror, I can’t think of another more suited for this type of movie. It’s as if body-mod was invented solely to create a horror-film, but of course, it isn’t. I’m actually surprised that this hasn’t been done like this before, and commend the Soska Sisters for handling it so well.
There was surprisingly little bloodshed for this type of flick, yet had me squirming away when the cutting started. The thought of having nipples or genetalia removed for purely cosmetic reasons was most unpleasant, but this is the desired effect of the movie, and the body modification practitioners, or so I’m led to believe.
The movie is riddled with problems though, with apparent leaps in the story taking a lot out of this film unnecessarily, like the suddenness of Mary Mason’s transformation from nice girl to absolute evil. Then there was how she quickly became so feared by the strippers working in the club, with no inbetween or any kind of build up. I would also liked to have seen a bit more of Billy (Antonio Cupo) falling for Mary, other than some imagined stripping and the like, but aside from those matters, I thought this film was extremely good.
Mary Mason (Isabelle) is a med student, who is behind on her bills and badly needs cash. She’s getting a hard time from one of the surgeons who lectures at the hospital where Mary is doing her internship. Mary decides to strip at a club to raise the cash, and while there, a medical emergency arises when someone needs their face stitched back up, but word gets out that she’s good at her job, and is called-on to do some body modification for a large sum of money. Mary is eventually persuaded by a Betty Boop lookalike, Beatrice, who has a friend wanting her feminine parts removed to more resemble a doll.
Mary successfully performs the surgical procedure and becomes an instant hit, but the last thing she wants is to be involved. Flush with cash, Mary buys new clothes and pays her bills, but her lecturing surgeon mistakenly thinks she’s hooking to make ends meet, and invites her to a party where she gets drugged, raped and filmed. She quits medical school, starts doing body-mods full-time, and opens a can of whoop-ass on the rapist and gets herself some revenge.
Review by Ed Blackadder, Lead Entertainment Writer
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