’s review of American Mary (2012):
There’s something about Mary — and it’s terrifying. American Mary tells the story of Mary (Katharine Isabelle: Ginger Snaps, 30 Days of Night: Dark Days, Freddy vs. Jason), a broke and potentially bored medical student who haphazardly discovers a profitable new trade for herself. Mary’s journey is also one of self-discovery, a descent into darkness, desensitized madness, and the sense of being untouchable. If American Mary doesn’t make you squirm in your seat from time to time, I don’t want to know you.
It’s likely that many young and beautiful college students seek employment in strip joints to help them with their financial struggles. That’s, at least, what the industry would have us believe. It’s run by philanthropists, you know? This perpetuated belief is why it plays out as cliché in American Mary — intentionally or not.
The cliché “casting couch” is short-lived, as mid-interview Mary is called away to a dingy basement to perform some underground surgery. I only mention this for two reasons:
1. The gore, while there’s not much in this film, it is believable, and this scene shows it early on
2. This is Mary’s first step into a bigger underground world
It’s true, the gore in American Mary is minimal. However, the film’s writers/directors Jen and Sylvia Soska have done a masterful job of making you use your disturbed mind’s eye. You could almost compare it to Michael Haneke’s Funny Games. Actually, the Soska twins (yes, they’re the twins who appear in the film) allowed the audience to do most of the work, although with a solid, but not insulting, guiding hand.
For example, at one point Mary lists some popular body mods. The names are descriptive enough that further explanation wasn’t necessary, but the audience is put in the uncomfortable position of imagining these procedures being done — and it’s disturbing. Audiences are also dropped into an actual subculture, one that most people don’t know exists, kind of like porn in the 19th century (I imagine). The learning curve of this subculture is quick, and American Mary has a low threshold for neophytes or the unaware to this subculture.
Once Mary realizes that her morals won’t be problematic, she goes for the golden chalice. She becomes a celebrity in the underground, and like most celebrities she starts to feel invincible. But we’re drawn into her world and we condone every sick and twisted thing that she does, so who are we to judge? Mary ends up being one badass bitch, one whom you do not want to fuck with and one whom you should fear.
The Verdict: [rating:4]
American Mary is a psychological thrill-ride that will make you question your own morals as it pushes your tolerances to new limits. At the very least, it will ask you how far you’re willing to let someone go before telling them enough is enough. At the same time, there are enough visceral moments with excellent special effects to satisfy gore hounds. There are some moments when you’ll be forced to “suspend” your reality, but if you go with it, you’ll have a great experience with Bloody Mary.
Rock Hard \m/
- Yell! Rating (x/5 Skulls):
- Year Released:
- 11 January 2013 (UK)
- Jen and Sylvia Soska
- Katharine Isabelle, Antonio Cupo, Tristan Risk, Jen and Sylvia Soska
- Horror, Thriller
- Official URL:
- American Mary