I’ve been meaning to watch American Mary for a while now. It has been in my TBR pile for a couple of months but I haven’t gotten around to it except to scan a few scenes which seemed dark and twisted. It had great promise, and now that I’ve finally gotten around to catching up on my backlogs, I’m happy to report that that the promise totally paid off for this gruesome gorefest.
Mary Mason (Katharine Isabelle) is a promising medical student who is behind on her student loans and bordering on broke. To pay for her bills and continue with school, she answers a wanted ad for a stripper. During her interview, she suddenly gets roped into performing an emergency medical procedure on a bleeding criminal and this opens a window of opportunities for her surgical skills in the underground world. When she is abused by one of her mentors in med school, she exacts revenge in the most painful way possible with the help of her newfound friends.
From the first scene, American Mary gave plenty of opportunity for squeamish members of the audience to turn back. The turkey being repeatedly sliced and sutured in extreme close up was a reliable indication of what was to come for non animal members of the cast.
True enough, the film involved a lot of cutting, a lot of blood, a lot of abuse and depravity and its really not something for people with weak stomachs.
The film tackled the world of body modification in great detail. While it did not elaborate on the psychology of the people who get under the knife for uncanny procedures to change how they look, it did give the audience a different perspective on the industry without being judgmental about it. Still, it earned its fair share of squirms and cringes of discomfort from the people who watched the movie for sure.
What I appreciated about the approach of the Soska sisters, who penned and directed this movie, was their instinct in knowing just where to push and when to pull. Sure, there was a lot of gruesomeness depicted in the film but the filmmakers did not rely on the graphic too much to shock the audience. They did just enough and implied just enough to tickle the imagination of the viewers to let them fill in the blanks.
Another great thing about the film was that it used practical effects and no CGI for the horror sequences. Its a novelty nowadays to be able to do it completely old school but the film managed to pull it off successfully.
On the part of the characters, I loved the character of Mary. Aside from being super gorgeous, she was tough as nails even though there seemed a point in the movie where she seemed to develop a taste for torture. I got a kick out of the giant bouncer Lance giving her a pep talk about harboring remorse about killing people.
It seems weird but I thought Billy’s (Antonio Culpo) crush on Mary was quite endearing. Cute seems like an out of place description about anything this dark but I really thought Mary and Billy would’ve made a cute couple. I couldn’t get over the fact about Mary’s jealous fit against one of Billy’s ‘girls.’
All in all, American Mary had a great story to tell. More than the gore, the film had an underlying message about feminism, body image and self confidence. While the lead character Mary went a little overboard in exercising girl power, it still said something about not becoming a victim. It was graphic, it assaulted the senses, it stirred up the audiences sensibilities by pulling old tricks from old school horror. And these are the reasons why the movie is different and cool.