American Mary

American Mary


Reviewed by: Lindis Kipp

Horror films are not usually high up on the list of things I watch, so it was with some apprehension I chose my films at Abertoir. After the amazing surprise that was Dead Sushi and thoroughly enjoying Antiviral, I had high expectations of the most hyped film of the festival, the Soska Sisters' American Mary. Thankfully, I was not disappointed.

American Mary follows aspiring surgeon Mary, who is becoming increasingly disillusioned and impoverished through her medical studies. While looking for a quick way to make money in a strip club, she is roped into an impromptu underground surgery which pays exceedingly well. Initially horrified, Mary (Katherine Isabelle) is intrigued when she is approached by Beatress Johnson (Tristan Risk), a woman surgically altered to look like Betty Boop. Beatress recruits Mary for another unusual surgery and Mary is beginning to see the perks of the job. Then a horrific experience at a party with her surgeon teachers and her acquaintance with the shadier elements of the city leave her with an unwilling victim to practice various forms of body modification on, as well as getting a revenge so sweet even the audience feels gratified.

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Therein lies the greatest charm of American Mary: while the character descends ever further into a dangerously violent mindset, her actions almost never feel unjustified and the audience continues to connect with Mary. This is largely down to Katherine Isabelle's knockout performance. Her Mary is vulnerable and confused, but copes without becoming too hard or unrelatable. Generous amounts of dark deadpan humour help keep the tone of the film surprisingly light throughout.

Another incredible performance is Tristan Risk as Beatress Johnson. Despite her heavy prosthetic makeup, she manages to portray a woman pretending to be Betty Boop and still infuses her with enough of an underlying own personality to make for a very engaging character. The rest of the cast are spot on, too, and the soundtrack adds the last piece of the puzzle to form an entertaining, intelligent film about how our choices influence our lives and about how sometimes the ones that look the scariest are the kindest and vice versa. I sincerely hope to be able to pick this up on DVD, as I would love to watch it again and again.

Reviewed on: 18 Nov 2012
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A disenfranchised medical student goes AWOL into the lucrative underworld of unnecessary surgery.
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Director: Jen Soska, Sylvia Soska

Writer: Jen Soska, Sylvia Soska

Starring: Katharine Isabelle, Julia Maxwell, Antonio Cupo, Connor Stanhope, Paul Anthony, Sierra Pitkin, Paula Lindberg, John Emmet Tracy, Rikki Gagne, Jen Soska, David Lovgren, Twan Holliday, Sylvia Soska, Nelson Wong, Sean Amsing

Year: 2012

Runtime: 100 minutes

BBFC: 18 - Age Restricted

Country: US, Canada

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