Movie Review: American Mary (2012) (No Spoilers)


A few nights ago I watched the 2012 Canadian horror flick American Mary.  The movie stars Canadian actress Katharine Isabelle as Mary Mason, an American medical school student pursuing her dream of becoming a surgeon while making extra cash performing body modifications.  As both heroine and villain at times, Isabelle works well and appears to enjoy playing her role.  However, the poor acting of others at the beginning of the film reeks of amateurism.  This wears off as the film progresses.  I enjoyed the rest of the film.  The story is original and is difficult to compare to any other film.  I recommend it to fans of the horror genre.  But do beware.  As should be expected, there are many disturbing and graphic images of mutilation in the movie.

Despite the gore, what actually disturbs me the most is the acting in the medical school lecture scene at the beginning of the film.  Mary’s medical school professor singles her out in front of the class and treats her harder than the other students.  The professor’s actions and dialogue compare to any performance in the set up of a low-budget pornographic flick.  It seems to foreshadow some kind of intimate encounter between Mary and her professor.  While this does eventually occur, it happens differently than one might expect, setting the rest of the film into motion.  I have no complaints about how the film evolved from there. I only wish it had a starting point on par with the rest of the very compelling story.

The twin Soska sisters directed and produced the film.  It is their latest following their 2009 debut in Dead Hooker in a Trunk.  They make a cameo appearance.  Though entertaining, the body modification they chose to undergo could have been more spectacular.  They wish to exchange arms and other body parts with each other.  This may sound extreme, but it is somewhat of a letdown from the clues given to the viewer.   From the dialogue, a viewer may have predicted the twins wished for Mary to attach their bodies together as conjoined twins.  If done, this would have made for a much more dynamic scene.  Perhaps that was not their aim.  Still, it is a very minor (and perhaps personal) quibble on my part.  The twins put together an amazing story that captivates its audience. Later this year, they will release the WWE Studios‘ See No Evil 2, starring the wrestler Kane.

Undeniably, there is a feminist theme in American Mary.  While Mary is a strong female protagonist who uses her God-given abilities to succeed in spite of a man’s act, she also has an evil side that strikes at the portrayal of females as nurturers.  Also present is the theme of morality, examining the fine line between good and evil in Mary’s acts of mutilation.

Despite the universal themes, American Mary is a one-of-a-kind story that has never been told until now. Isabelle’s edgy depiction of Mary is reason enough to watch the film. You can it view for free on here, but I hope you will ultimately pay to see the film to reward both Isabelle’s performance and the artistic vision of the Soska sisters.


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