September 6, 2013

Movie Review: American Mary

Do you ever feel like you are the last to know about something? I think we have all been there at one time or another. That is how I feel about the writing/directing/acting duo. the Soska sisters, Jen and Sylvia. The first made a splash a few years ago with Dead Hooker in a Trunk, a title I have heard of often but have not yet seen. Now they have made a seemingly bigger splash with American Mary. Another movie that has made the rounds before arriving in front of my eye sockets.

I cannot quite pin point when I first heard of American Mary, but the name was flying around a lot when I went to the Monster Mania convention in Cherry Hill, NJ, this past March. Most of this talk was due to the appearance of star Katherine Isabelle. I was anxious to meet her regarding the Ginger Snaps movies and Freddy vs. Jason. Although, I have to admit, with all the talk of this new movie, I was quite intrigued. Now, I have finally caught up with a good chunk of the rest of the horror community.

American Mary is a movie that comes to me with a lot of buzz. Fortunately, all i got was the buzz, I was able to avoid learning anything about the movie. So, it was with a little excitement that I pressed play and dived into the American Mary experience. Now, on the other side, I have seen a film that is eminently watchable, but ultimately flawed. Still, it is easy to like, it is a striking looking movie with a distinct feel that stands out.

Mary Mason (Isabelle) is a med student with a large amount of debt and a need to make some quick money. Her status as a promising surgeon is not enough to get her through, promise doesn't pay a lot these days. Naturally, being an attractive young woman, she decides to check out an interesting help wanted ad at a strip club. This leads to impromptu surgery on a fellow the club owner as been having tortured in the bowels of the building. It was quick money and Mary does no say no.

Shortly thereafter, she is contacted by a woman named Beatrice who as had so much plastic surgery hat she can scarcely move her face. She comes on behalf of a friend who is also plastic surgery and is one step away from being, essentially, a living Barbie doll. Mary may be a little uncomfortable at first, but the money changes her mind pretty quick.

What follows is the story of a woman who becomes increasingly disenfranchised with med school, especially when a certain monstrous act occurs that drives her away from the mainstream. She hides herself behind an increasingly cold and calculating personality, and embraces the underground world of body modification.

It really is an interesting film with a fascinating central character. However, it begins to come apart on the third act. Rather than add much in the way of meat to the story threads, other threads are added. It is interesting to see/infer how they different pieces affect Mary, but it would have been even better to see the, developed a bit better and get a good look at no the cumulative effect takes hold.

Katherine Isabelle is the real star of the show. She is utterly captivating as Mary. She has this wall built up around her, she is almost emotionless, but there are hints of something more to her. There is more just below the surface, just consider things like the phone calls with her grandmother, for example. She makes this cold character incredibly fascinating as we follow her journey from promising med student to body mod star surgeon.

Overall, I would have to call American Mary a good movie. It did not quite live up to the hype that it seemed to be getting. It is not bad by any stretch, there were just places where there was potential to go next level and it didn't. So, rather than being a completely awesome film, it is a good one with a great performance that carries the entire thing through to the end.


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