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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.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Plot: Mary Mason, a medical student studying to become a surgeon, gets
into some shady business when she applies for a job to get some extra
cash. The young student is quickly thrown into a world of body
modification, and she is becoming the go-to person for the most extreme
Our thoughts: I might be in a minority of reviewers: I never watched or wanted to watch "Dead Hooker in a Trunk". It should've interested me, but it never did. It happens with certain titles, and this was one of them. It certainly didn't help that my partner on the website reviewed that one, which means I didn't even have a "professional" (hah!) reason to watch it. I haven't had much interest in the Soska sisters, and that's nothing personal, but when Katharine Isabelle got attached to "American Mary" I'll admit to being interested. As a huge fan of the "Ginger Snaps" trilogy, why wouldn't I be?
"American Mary" (it could be called "Canadian Mary", since Katharine is Canadian and so is the movie, but let's not be silly now!) tells the story of Mary Mason. She's a medical student who hopes to become surgeon one day. Hell, she's far along too, and quite a good student to boot. If you ignore her attitude, of course. She's more skilled than the majority of her class. But being a student of any kind means you're probably broke, just like Mary is. Her desperation leads her to apply for a job as a stripper, but the job interview takes a weird turn when someone associated with the club is in need of surgery - quick. Mary's dragged in and she has to perform surgery on this really messed up man. It's quite the job for a medical student to do, but she does it. And it changes her. People hear about what she did, and she gets contacted by people that are into extreme body modifications such as trying to look like a doll or Betty Boop. Mary soon throws away her ambitions to become a typical surgeon, and becomes a popular name in the underground world of body modifications.
What is the rise and the fall of a movie like "American Mary"? The rise for me most definitely is that Katharine Isabelle plays the lead role. She's a really likable actor, and it's hard not to want to watch a horror movie with her in it. Another rise (you know I mean "positive thing", right?) is that the storyline is quite to the point and easy to get into. Also the effects are quite good.
Let's look at the negative things of "American Mary", which are often much stronger than the positive things. Most importantly is that I find little-to-no character development in our lead character. Even though Katharine Isabelle is likable, her character is not. And her character remains equally unlikable from start to finish. It would be understandable if a nice girl (nice girls can be strong too) becomes hardened and "bitchy" through-out the things that happen in the movie, but Mary starts with bitchy attitude and ends with bitchy attitude. There are just a few scenes that show anything beside that in her, and that's a real shame.
Katharine Isabelle is still the better actor in the movie, hands down, and I don't mind watching her even if she's not likable. Several actors are less than fantastic, and sadly that can be said about our director duo too. The moment the two of them enter the movie it becomes rather silly with their German accents. The kind of focus that is put on the two characters makes you think that they would be a big part of the story down the line, but they aren't. It's understandable if directors put themselves or people they know in movies, but I don't know what the reason for this kind of attention to two characters is if they are not gonna be important. No surprise, perhaps, that they decided to make their characters the most odd ones in the movie - if you could choose your own role in a film, I'm sure you'd want something that stands out too. But Jen, Sylvia, you should probably rethink putting you in too much focus just because you are in the movie.
"American Mary" lacks a lot of things that would draw me into the movie. But it works as a rather shallow horror movie about body modification. It has several scenes that are underwhelming in both emotion and artistic decisions, characters that you don't develop, failed attempts at shock. Let's be honest - in 2013 it takes quite a lot to come off as shocking, and you either have to really show the most despicable things imaginable, or have us so invested in our character that it hurts us when they are hurt. "American Mary" is a few hundred miles away from that. I don't think it's a terrible watch, and some parts of it are quite alright so it definitely works as weekend entertainment.
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Warning this movie contains torture porn... the acting is good the lead
is super hot but I lost all respect for this movie when it decided to
give up on story and just try to gross people out.
I WISH MOVIES LIKE THIS HAD A WARNING!
Don't get me wrong I like horror movies. I can even watch gore... Texas Chainsaw... Evil Dead (2013)... But movies like this break my heart that people find this entertaining.
I gave it 2 stars for the outfits but the movie is fundamentally stupid... no struggle to overcome... no suspense... no fear... no likable characters... no plot... no story...
What did i just watch...?
Co-writers/directors Jen and Sylvia Soska, the Twisted Twins, have
created a highly stylized, exquisite entry in the horror subgenre known
as the women's revenge film. This is the bloody nightmare an angry
young female surgeon might have after watching "I Spit on Your Grave."
We open on an extreme closeup shot of lovely Mary Mason (Katherine Isabelle) in her kitchen, sewing a turkey with careful precision. It isn't Thanksgiving, though, and there are no guests arriving. She's just practicing her surgery skills as a budding med student. But when professional relationships run afoul, fowl just isn't an adequate substitute for the real thing. And just when you think you know where the film is going, our hearts are touched by Mary's benevolent foray into a world few are aware of. So begins the occasionally chilling, often twisted odyssey of "American Mary."
There's much praise to go around for this talented ensemble cast but, more than anyone, it's the exquisite Katherine Isabelle who brings the Soskas' script to life. Isabelle so inhabits Mary that she creates a totally original, unique character that raises the bar for all the actors around her. The reversal of roles in this narrative is clever and crafty. To be more specific would reveal too much. Things are not as they seem as stereotypes are shattered at every step of the way.
The look of "American Mary" is a study in the almost-forgotten techniques of creative filmmaking. Single point lighting is used liberally, as Mary moves in and out of the shadows of the strange new world she's created. More than in most modern films, the color palette is central to subliminal psychological changes transmitted to the viewer. Black, the color of death, and red, the color of love (and blood), dominate in key scenes and trigger subtle emotional cues that slyly blend in with the milieu.
Peter Allen's original score magnificently balances contrapuntally with the gruesome on screen action. Lush classical strains underscore unimaginable real-life horrors. We're watching a ballet of death. The more terrifying the images, the more charming and delightful is the opera in our heads. The beauty of the soundtrack belies the ugliness beneath.
"American Mary" boasts some of the most stunning camera-work of the festival. Cinematographer Brian Pearson exhibits such passion for the material that every frame is like a painting. Editor Bruce MacKinnon allows the film to proceed patiently, another departure from the typical genre production. Locations are like characters unto themselves, and the set design reflects that with tremendous attention to detail that allows the photography and music to work together with the backdrop to help propel the story.
This is true art, rarely seen in cinema today. It's a slightly more civilized, 21st century take on torture porn with high production values and a killer narrative but there's much more here than meets the eye. Yes, it's hard to watch at times, but those who appreciate movies the way they used to be made won't want to turn away. In "American Mary" we gorily discover that hell hath no fury like a female surgeon scorned.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I really wasn't expecting much of this going in, so I was pleasantly
surprised at the talent on display, much better than the average indie
flick from unknown directors. The acting is really first-rate all
round, without exception, and with particularly creepy turns by Paula
Lindberg and Tristan Risk, especially. Other reviewers have pointed out
the debt to Cronenberg, and there is a good deal of that same
unsettling fascination for the human body throughout the film. The
first third I was very much impressed, at the sound, the
cinematography, the atmosphere, and I almost believed the inevitable
wouldn't rear its head but no, 40 mins in, up it came, right on
Here's a new Bechdel test for women directors: try, just once, making a film WHERE NOBODY GETS RAPED. Apparently, this is much, much harder than it sounds, but TRY. Push yourself. I know you can do it. Try making a film in which men are actually human beings, and one whole half of the human race, instead of just some monolithic, oppressive 'Them'.
This is a misandric film because there are no normal men in it: all of them, without exception, are depicted as evil, weak and pathologically hateful towards women. All men are either thugs or psychopaths. The only even slightly tolerated male character is the bouncer at the strip bar, (a thug Mary can manipulate to do violence for her) who gives her sandwiches and milkshakes, while telling her not to feel bad about killing people: "you make sure they deserve it, then don't waste a minute of your time after they're done". Yeah, you go, girl. Oh and there's a detective in it who actually gets to say (to the twisted monster serial killer) "YOU'RE the victim here, Mary!!".
As usual, a single by-the-books fictional wrong is manipulatively inserted only to justify all the prolonged, orgasmic and utterly reprehensible violence upon men that then follows. None of it was surprising, and all of it is very much a cliché by now. Why do all films by women filmmakers dislike men so much? If you reverse the genders there is no way that this film could even be made, because both women and men would find the violence against women so reprehensible that no-one would show it, it would probably be banned, and certainly no-one would refer to the sick butcher within it as 'sexy'. Correct? But no-one in the reviews here or elsewhere even bats an eyelid at the genocidal hatred here displayed, they simply say it has 'a feminist slant', and leave it at that. And that hatred DOES emanate from feminist propaganda, so I guess they have a point, but it's a pretty ugly message it's selling, when all is said and done.
I don't want to completely trash the film, as there are, as I've said, more than a few good points in its favour, but it sure leaves a bad taste in the mouth.
Okay, so after reading and hearing some good reviews, I finally got the time to view this film. It was a very slow start and the acting seemed very wooden and amateurish to say the least. The film has no atmosphere and was not engaging at all. I had to check twice if I was actually watching the same film for which I had read the reviews just to make sure I wasn't watching some cheep parody or knock-off. I find it astonishing how anyone sees anything in this film, the only thing I can rate about this film is the theme of body-mod and objectification. Everything else scores a big fat ZERO. Finally, horror is meant to be scary or frightening, this was horrifyingly rubbish, and frighteningly boring.
Murder, malice, mutilation. American Mary is morbidly fascinating and
shockingly under-appreciated, a film that - once you wade through all
the blood and guts - boils down to a brilliantly written and executed
character piece. We follow broke student Mary Mason, played perfectly
by the charming Katharine Isabelle, as she slices and stitches her way
to becoming a rather successful underground body mod surgeon. And with
a high standard of acting, writing, and cinematography, American Mary
is a must see for any horror aficionado.
One thing however, did stop me in my tracks as I considered an above 8 star rating After peaking two thirds through, the final scenes were somewhat disappointing. In an attempt to avoid spoilers, I shall say only this: after the brutal acts of torture committed at many points throughout the film, the ending was almost pleasant for those involved. If it weren't for this shortcoming, and a few other minor issues - one being that the Soska sisters' cameos were rather flat and unnecessary (although I'm sure they had themselves in mind for the parts), I may well have given it those precious extra two stars.
So, apart from a few arguably overlook-able flaws, American Mary really is a very entertaining revenge flick, appealing to that morbid curiosity that we all possess, but that most of us probably won't admit to.
I'm not sure how best to describe 'American Mary.' The easy option
would be to call it a 'horror,' but that doesn't seem to do it justice
on its own. It's more of a dark, horrific drama, charting a young
medical student's disillusionment with her studies and pursuing the
'easy option' instead. This takes her into the path of some
particularly weird and unscrupulous people.
I read online someone describing the film as having a great beginning and middle, but lacking in the end. I'd tend to agree with that. The ending does seem a little sudden, like the film-makers kind of didn't know how best to end it in a way that would appeal to everyone. Your view of the ending will depend largely on how you view the characters.
And the characters all play their parts well. Special kudos to Katherine Isabelle, who plays the title role. The film depends on making her role work and I think she succeeds.
I don't know who I'd recommend this film to: it's one part 'torture porn,' one part horror, one part revenge movie and some general bloodthirstyness thrown into the mix. I suppose if you dabble in any of those sorts of genres, you should get something out of it. For some reason, I found the overall feel and 'story structure' most similar to the similarly titled American Psycho.
*** 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+<<
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