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I was fortunate enough to attend a screening of gory horror American
Mary followed by a Q&A session with the co-writers and directors, Jen
and Sylvia Soska, and star Katharine Isabelle. Okay, scrap the
'fortunate'. And the scariest parts of the evening were the claim by
the Soska twins that "Some people have said this is the best film they
have ever seen!" and the bloke who told us all about the operations he
was due to have on his legs before enquiring from the trio if he should
There's very little good to say about American Mary. I entered the screening room with high hopes and departed wide-eyed and dismayed. It's embarrassing to laugh at unintentionally funny moments in a film but there were plenty of them. American Mary is indeed shocking, but not in a good way.
American Mary is clearly a vanity project from two girls whose executive producer parents apparently (part) funded the project. Two girls who have watched Human Centipede once too often. Two girls who are trying reeeeally hard to be rebellious and shock the world by doing naughty things on screen and swearing pointlessly and with embarrassing amounts of emphasis on each expletive just so we get how rude they're being. Such pain! Even in the Q&A they tried desperately hard to shock; the first sentence out of their mouths referring to some scallywag as a f****** c*** and then repeated, over-egged obscenities punctuating inane responses to toadying fanboy questions. Oh, to have been shocked and offended. That would have been a joy compared to the embarrassment of watching three children showing off to a roomful of adults. There's an old adage: If you want to be seen, stand up; if you want to be heard, speak up; if you want to be respected, shut up. I saw, I heard, I departed and I averted my gaze.
American Mary is a horror flick about a disenchanted surgery intern, Mary (Isabelle) with financial worries who is sucked into the very dark side of plastic surgery aka body modification aka freakish mutilation. It starts out as a way for Mary to earn money (via torture and creating Barbie lookalikes) then becomes a hobby and finally a way to exact revenge and satisfy her perverse whims.
I don't have a problem with the subject matter; it's great to be challenged. I have a problem with the dire script, the god-awful cod accents (the worst of which are from the Soska twins who cast themselves as, um, freakish twins) and the horrendous sound mix that changes mid-scene (!) and at one point had us all looking over our left shoulders to work out which member of the audience was moaning, only to realize it was the character off-screen in an entirely different direction! Random scenes are plonked into the film to separate others and to imply the passage of time. A cringeworthy scene in which Mary learns some news of her grandmother prompts further smothered guffaws and is just one more reason to condemn this amateurish tripe. This is just one long, clumsy, pointless film that really wants to be offensive but succeeds in being virtually irrelevant.
Certainly there are a couple of moments when the stomach twinges with the implied gore, but mostly the horror is in the performance. Paula Lindeberg is so ridiculously excessive in her performance as the plasticized Ruby Realgirl with her squeaky voice and clapping hands that Isabelle comes across as subtlety incarnate. Antonio Cupo plays strip joint owner Billy Barker as though auditioning to play Mark Ruffalo and when John Emmet Tracy wanders on to the screen with intended sincerity as Detective Dolor, the thud was the sound of many jaws bouncing on the floor. Why does an American detective in an American film set in America have a 'British' accent? Well, according to Soska and Soska it's because they wanted their detective to sound exactly like their hero Clive Barker. It would appear no-one told them Barker is a Liverpudlian who now speaks with an LA drawl. Yup, that's about the level of American Mary.
So why does American Mary earn two stars? Because the art direction triumphs, the set is pretty, the principal prosthetics are perfect and Mary's costumes get progressively sexier as the film rolls on. Costume designer Jayne Mabbott is by far and away the star of American Mary and by the time Mary dons her red surgeon's gown in a reference to Dead Ringers, Mabbott has made her the most erotic murderess on the big screen.
Perhaps next time Soska and Soska are let lose with a camera they should be 'encouraged' to spend their budget on a few more talents like Mabbott.
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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Good performance from the lead actress, but plenty of problems with the
Some interesting oddball characters hanging around, but I just didn't buy the cabal of pervert surgeons because there was no background for it. The role of the niteclub owner was a bit vague and contradictory - vicious and meek at the same time - maybe they shouldn't have cast a pretty boy when he was never going to conquer Mary. The killer was well hidden, maybe too much. And the detective was pointless.
Too many characters for a limited number of roles?
Lots of energy and ideas + good gore. I thought the plight of the amputee surgeon could have helped develop Mary's character. She was played really well, and in the end I was wishing she managed to stitch herself together, leaving a trail of blood for the detective to follow.
Recommended, but the story was a bit loose.
So I was expecting some weird twisted body modification sh*t after I saw the trailer and the result is what I quite expected. However, there seems to be much doing but not so much showing (the result) which was quite disappointing. The GORE effects here look really realistic in a surgery scene and was very twisted and disturbing to watch. The SCARE here is probably how realistic the surgery looks but again, they show the cutting scene and stuff in which it has a really cool, bizarre, and jaw-dropping concept but unfortunately the film chose to not show much of that final result which was a major disappointment for me. Another disappointment here is the cluttered plot and the climax that just came out of nowhere making the pacing here moves quite slow and loses interest from time to time, but thanks to Katharine Isabelle's hot and tempting performance making the film more enjoyable to watch. Overall, the FUN of this film is seeing some unique and likable character personality in a weird way and some really freaky and imaginative concept even though it might not have been fully developed at the end >>C+<<
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 be
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. Katharine Isabelle (recently seen
in the hit TV show 'Hannibal') 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 genitalia 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 in-between 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.
I thoroughly enjoyed this film, despite the fare to poor acting by some of the key cast members. The script was seriously original and spooky. The atmosphere was creepy as were the real villains - the professor and doctor who were teaching American Mary how to be a surgeon. The actress who played Mary did a good job, even though, her acting "dead" inside was a little too on point. It just seemed like she couldn't really act at all after a while. But, overall, this was a good flick. I have to agree with earlier reviewers. American Mary would be a great spin off on HBO or FX, like "Dexter" or "Nip/Tuck." I wasn't really thrilled with the ending, but it worked. Overall, it was a fun and thrilling ride.
I heard mostly good things about this movie.
I did found that the movie was very slow movie for first hour so, I was getting a bit bored and I wasn't really into the movie at all.
However I did enjoyed the second part of the movie more.
There were some decent bloody moments, nothing we not really seen before in others movies like this.
I say it was okay horror movie, nothing really stood out for me,
I was little disappointed with this movie, It did have some hype around it.
5 out of 10
A film about a struggling medical student thrown into the underground world of body modification sounds like a promising premise. Yet lack believable plot development, and speed in which she accepts the situation she's in with no real explanation makes the story feel rushed losing any credibility right from the off set. There is inconsistent acting throughout from the enjoyable Mary to the woeful strip club owner makes the experience feel disjointed. Yes there is some gore if that's what your after, but most of it is implied rather than on screen and the freaks and bizarre operations Mary conducts seem quite tame to anyone who has watched 'nip tuck'. This also brings up other issues regarding the surgeries themselves, viewers with any knowledge of the medical profession or watch medical shows will immediately pick out errors and the ease in which she conducts them with limited equipment is laughable. The disappointing and abrupt finale is so uninspired you will instantly regret sitting through this waste of time.
It is becoming harder and harder to find something new in the horror
genre, but when you do it can always go either way. The latest film
American Mary kind of snuck under the radar but has been getting some
positive buzz directed by the Soska Sisters, but does it deliver
something new to the genre or will it be just another forgettable
American Mary follows a medical student who is struggling financially and slowly becoming disenchanted with the surgical world. When she is put in a situation to earn some easy money sends her into the world of underground medical field that leaves more marks on her than her freakish clientele. While this film falls into the horror genre it isn't really a horror film at all depending on how you look at it. This could fall into an aspect of the torture porn genre, but from a self-inflicted nature. The story is pretty simple and starts off with little feeling new, but then it takes an insane turn creating a strange a bizarre world that is unlike most out there. There are a few characters that are hard to look at from the start both looking fake and strange, but as it moves along they seemingly become the norm as the twisted nature of this film takes over. Watching the evolution of this character from struggling medical student to this freak surgeon creates a film that is both interesting and original standing out from anything out there. There are a few gory moments and torture sequences that are really effective, even when you don't actually see what is happening. Part of the reason this film works is they weren't afraid to push the boundaries without feeling the need to force the gore down your throat.
Horror fans love their gore, but sometimes less is more and here they mess with you visually as well as mentally creating a world that is sure to please. This is one of the most inventive horror-esque films to come along in this genre in a long time that actually builds to something and leaves you both creeped out and satisfied all at once.
"American Mary," is a offbeat horror/dark comedy that was a pleasure to
watch. There is a dark sexiness that will keep anyone interested and
the bizarre nature of it just works well. The basic storyline is of a
surgical student who is in debt begins doing underground body
modification surgeries of the extreme kind.
The story is great and original. The acting is also exceeded my expectations from what I had read here on IMDb. There is a pervasive, dark , sexy aspect that is just enough to tease and titillate. the subject matter is dark enough to fit into the same mold of classics like American Psycho, and in a way kind of reminds me of that movie.
I give it a 9, I loved it. Usually Canadian movies with a storyline like this get me excited to watch them but usually fall flat in the execution and come off a bit inhibited. This one fulfills my expectations in a way that most Hollywood movies don't. If your a fan of a bit off beat horror, and dark comedies, be sure to check this one out, I highly recommend it!
In these nearly hopeless times of redundant remakes, lousy amateur nonsense, dire zombie comedies and lame found-footage flicks, "American Mary" definitely stands out as one of the most innovative and surprising new horror films in years. The basic plot concept leans closer towards the classic genre movies from the 50's and 60's, featuring mad scientists and deranged surgeons, than towards the nowadays booming trend of torture-porn flicks, but the twisted eccentric characters and sickening gore effects are very much 2013. Mary Mason, a med student of Hungarian descent, most certainly has the intellect, ambition and talent to realize her dream and become a successful surgeon, but unfortunately she struggles financially and applies for a job in a striptease club. Instead of taking off her clothes, the dubious owner Billy urgently needs her to perform an illegal underground operation in the club's basement. Her surgical talents are noticed by uncanny Betty Boop obsessed stripper Beatress and, through offering a lot of cash money, she enrolls Mary into the freakish and deranged world of "body modification". Because of meeting all these crazy characters, and facing a personal disillusion regarding her medical education, Mary herself also increasingly grows dangerous and insane. As said already, the main trump of "American Mary" is the originality and the overall shock-effect. Finally we have a new horror movie that is genuinely unethical, effectively satirical and downright revolting. The Soska twin sisters, Jen and Sylvia, take a deep dive into the bloody underbelly of illegal surgery and the result is a freshly inventive, flamboyant and uniquely twisted film. The twins both appear briefly in the film, as patients with an awkward physical desire, and they look as creepy and bizarre as the scenario they penned down. The gorgeous, sexy and charismatic Katharine Isabelle (forever a horror muse since the "Ginger Snaps" trilogy) is terrific in the titular role and many of the relatively unknown supportive players deliver good performances as well. My only main complaint is that the plot takes a couple of abrupt and illogical twists and turns near the climax.
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