Friends often ask me to recommend indie horror films on Netflix Instant. (American Netflix, sorry!) Now I can just send…
Appearances are everything
A young med student struggling with her tuition fees is drawn into the shady world of underground body modification.
Despite the strong reviews and festival buzz I was still rather sceptical about American Mary mainly because I loathed the Soska twins first film, Dead Hooker in a Trunk. I’m pleased to report that this is a significantly more accomplished feature; a female empowerment horror movie with a strong central performance that anchors the film. Mary is a student surgeon struggling to pay her way through school and find her place in a male driven profession. When she is given quick money for a black market operation she opens the door to the odd world of extreme body modification which she embraces after being abused by her teacher.
In its simplest terms this could be described as a rape revenge…
I'm changing specialties Dr. Grant.
Few modern horror movies have memorable protagonists or antagonists. Having both in one film is practically impossible in this day and age, but if you get just one of those it's something special. Like 2009's The Loved Ones (which is a better film), American Mary features a female lead that is not only memorable but easily surpasses everything else in the film as it's biggest strength and the main reason to watch.
Katharine Isabelle, from Ginger Snaps fame, is that female lead as Mary Mason, a medical student that finds her way into the business of extreme body modification. It's an incredibly entertaining performance and probably the best of her career. Her character…
Katharine Isabelle plays Mary Mason, a brilliant medical student aiming to become a surgeon who begins performing unorthodox surgeries of extreme body modification so she can pay the bills, although it's clear money is not the only reason why she is doing this; she enjoys it. After her trust has been shattered and thrown in the garbage can she changes into a person who would probably be best kept far away from her surgical instruments.
It's pretty tame considering torture porn standards and many would scoff at the mere association with that genre but it's the closest classification it fits under. I'm pretty fed up with the idea of contrasting disturbing images with classical music; that's how this movie starts…
1st Mistake I Made While Watching This Film: Eating
2nd Mistake: Continuing to eat.
"Ewww the opening is her seeing and cutting pale raw flesh"
*its just chicken*
*gets disgusted 10 minutes later by real gore*
Anyways, American Mary is an odd little thriller from the Soska sisters that had quite the buzz earlier this year within the horror scene. The film had an abundance of style, gross out moments, sexy characters, weird characters, WTF characters and lacked in virtually everything else....
Katharine Isabelle plays the role of Mary Mason with innocence and cute intelligence at first but as her journey into the world of underground surgery and body mutilation unfolds, she becomes increasingly detached and…
The Soska twins' viscerally unsettling, though ultimately unremarkable American Mary typifies contemporary horror cinema’s unpleasant tendencies for style over substance. What begins as a promising one woman showcase that treads in Lucky McKee-esque territory ends stumbling into an insipidly contrived version of I Spit on Your Grave complete with an anticlimactic denouement that smacks of a rush job. But if there’s anything that the Soskas have done admirably well then it’s definitely the inspired casting of indie scream queen Katherine Isabelle as the titular lead, her most memorable role since playing as feisty, sexually repressed Ginger Fitzgerald, Canadian cinema’s greatest contribution to the lycanthrope canon which spawned three outstanding modern werewolf films. Isabelle channels her inner Barbara Steele as part…
What a lovely twisted surprise.
This film got on my radar through Letterboxd and its ratings and intriguing poster landed it a spot on my watchlist and had me make sure I would read nothing about it.
And that's the way to go really as this is a film that slowly sucks you in and takes you to unexpected places. It is an interesting scrawl through the mind of someone who is slowly losing grasp of reality, and a moral compass.
What this film does right, and this is something most modern horror films should pay close attention to, is that it tries to be its own film.…
Though quite far from being a perfect movie thanks to its shockingly bad ending, American Mary is still a great entry into the annals of ‘body-horror’ by representing a relatively new angle on the sub-genre. One which tackles the concept of body-modification, personal image and conforming, or not conforming to certain fashion trends or styles. It is when characters who have paid to have their bodies to be transformed into looking like Betty Boop and Barbie dolls appear where one may begin to see the horror in the esoteric side of the culture this film explores.
Despite a rather strong lead performance form Katharine Isabelle, this movie doesn't have much going for it. The plot is incredibly unfocused and all other characters other than Mary (and maybe her Betty Boop-ish friend, Beatrice) are completely forgettable.
An offbeat horror with wonderful black humour and a terrific lead in Katherine Isabelle. A little weak in the character development but nevertheless, it's a breath of fresh air and always was fascinating to watch.
The smartest choice the directors of American Mary made was to feature Katharine Isabelle in almost every shot of this movie. She surgically stitches together enough moments of genuine pathos and devilishly comedic flair to hold things together despite clunky dialogue and less adept co-stars. But the flimsy story structure ultimately falls apart, and instead of a provocative grotesquery, we're left with an unsatisfying mess.
It's kind of like a low-rent Cronenberg. It's not bad, but not great. There are a few really good scenes, but on the whole the film doesn't quite gel. It suffers from an unfocused and anticlimactic script. However, it's a huge step up from the Soska sisters' first movie, "Dead Hooker in a Trunk," which sucked. "American Mary" proves the Soska sisters have potential. I'm interested in seeing what they do next.
I didn't know much about this going into it but had added it to my Watchlist thanks to other Letterboxd folk. I hadn't heard of the Soska sisters or their previous feature either. I must say I was impressed with this. A nice topic, done well on the whole (with some odd interpretations possible about various interactions) with a stunningly good central performance from Katharine Isabelle as Mary. Mary comes across as an incredibly strong woman which is miles away from what you'd think early on in the film, yet none of this feels wrong.
Fucking wet dream of a revenge flick.
American Mary starts off interesting, then takes a different turn, goes back into being interesting, and then derails again so many times that I simply stopped caring.
The director/writers Jen and Sylvia Soska don't seem to have any clue what they want to do or say. They start off with a sort of interesting take on body horror, then turn into torture porn, a murder mystery, a gangster flick and whatever.
The lead actress Katharine Isabelle is very good, really the only good performance in the movie. Everybody else comes off very stiff or just plain bad, and the dialogue is just cringeworthy at times.
Several scenes just go too far. Not in gross out style, even though it's very violent, but just beyond good taste. It seems just dumb.
American Mary for some reason made me think of middle school and shitty "edgy" nu metal bands.
I enjoyed this film but felt the ending was very rushed and kinda came out of nowhere. If you like dark movies this may do it for ya.
- 13 Sins
- 100 Bloody Acres
- All Cheerleaders Die
- 20 Fingers
- Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles
- Almayer's Folly
- A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night
- Border Radio
A list of films directed by women, in alphabetical order by director. The notes show the director's country, name and…
- Night of the Living Dead
- Night of the Living Dead
- Dawn of the Dead
- Dawn of the Dead
- Day of the Dead
Horror movies are by far my favorite, so I've decided to make a list with all of them I remember…