Medical student Mary Mason (Katharine Isabelle) is getting increasingly broke and disenchanted with medical school and the established doctors she once idolized. The allure of easy money sends a desperate Mary through Vancouver's underground body modification scene which leaves more marks on her than the so-called freakish clientele.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
More a fusion film than a horror movie, American Mary is an unexpected blend of bod-mod horror, revenge thriller and psycho drama, distinguished by a wonderfully still and riveting performance by Katharine Isabelle as Mary, the emerging surgery student. Short of cash, as all student are, Mary takes an unusual underground job, as many students do, but in her case it's her first encounter with voluntary body modification, for which there seems to be a large demand in Vancouver - who knew? Well, the talented Soska sisters did, it seems, and they've written a screenplay that is rich and layered. If only they hadn't cast themselves as the twin clients with a menu of bod mods to make their connection as twins even more ...er...physically pronounced. They can write and direct, but they can't come up with a credible foreign accent. Still, that's a minor quibble in a film that is really stylish and controlled.
As Mary becomes more popular and sought after, her own personality undergoes change. She recognises this eventually; at one point she admits that her work does have an impact on her. Later she asks her so-called boyfriend Billy (Antonio Cupo) if he thinks she's crazy...
While Mary is a fascinating character with a calm exterior and a capacity for deranged surgery - as exhibited on the predator surgeon who once was her lecturer - the most bizarre character is a dnacer at Billy's strip club Beatress, played by the aptly named Tristan Risk - in a haunting and eccentric bravura performance, aided by facial modifications that give her a somewhat animalistic appearance.
There are confusing scenes that are presumably fantasy sequences and the last third of the film is a bit wobbly, but the Sosak sisters maintain interest and tension with an edgy style and ever surprising use of music cues. For horror fans it has a few exquisite scenes and for casual consumers browsing the cinematic menu, it offers a multi-taste experience.
Email this article
AMERICAN MARY (R18+)
CAST: Katharine Isabelle, Antonio Cupo, Tristan Risk, David Lovgren, Paula Lindberg, Clay St. Thomas, John emmett Tracy, Twan Holliday, Nelson Wong, Jen Soska, Sylvia Soska
PRODUCER: Evan Tylor
DIRECTOR: Jen Soska, Sylvia Soska
SCRIPT: Jen Soska, Sylvia Soska
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Brian Pearson
EDITOR: Bruce MacKinnon
MUSIC: Peter Allen
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Tony Devenyi
RUNNING TIME: 102 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Monster Pictures
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: Dendy Newtown, Sydney: November 16 preview; season commences November 22, 2012
RIVERSIDE SCREEN PREMIERES
A program of premiere screenings of new movies prior to their commercial release
on 6 consecutive Tuesdays, starts February 17, 2015 at Riverside Theatre,
Curated & presented by Andrew L. Urban, discussion to
follow with special guests. Briefing notes provided.