Peeling back layers from the twisted minds of the identical Soska sisters proved to be quite a picnic. American Mary is a groundbreaking independent film that explores the atramentous and sometimes fatal side to body modifications and underground surgery. Never has alternating the body for self expression looked so grim.
It’s refreshing to see that there are creative and ambitious women like the Soska’s dishing out horror features centered around women that are wrapped up in dark circumstances. Especially when they are so many male directors such as Lucky McKee out there providing us with the same material. American Mary is a vast improvement from the train wreck that was “Dead Hooker in a Trunk.” The Soska’s stepped up and showed the world what they are made of.
The story is an odd one, not carefully planned out and complete with plot holes and loose ends but that doesn’t matter since this is a character study. Mary Mason is an intelligent, attractive, and industrious medical student who is financially challenged. After applying for a job at a strip club, she’s thrown into the bizarre world of illegal underground surgeries. Mary works with everything from an overly devoted Betty Boop fan, plastic Barbie dolls with their twat’s sewn shut, disgusting penis modifications, horn implants, and the twins grace us with their presence as truly eccentric and incestuous sisters looking to ‘strengthen’ their bond.
When Mary isn’t busy with these surgeries, she’s sewing turkey’s in her kitchen, talking to her proud Nana on the phone, and getting date raped by her ass hole professor. After this unfortunate event with her professor, her life spiral’s out of control and revenge in the grossest sense is carried out by the hands of Mary. Despite her performing these vicious acts, you cannot help but root for the girl as she has been victimized. Soon, she craves blood and ultimately becomes addicted to cutting into the flesh of those who have wronged her…. And those who are looking to express themselves further on the outside.
Mary is a very complex character that keeps herself emotionally reserved – An act that I am all too familiar with. She’s the most alluring instrument in this provocative piece of art and Katherine Isabelle gives a powerful performance, as expected. Isabelle has made a place for herself in the ‘horror community’ with her previous roles in films like Ginger Snaps and Freddy vs. Jason. I look forward to her future endeavors. Tristan Risk is another young lady climbing the ladder to success as the Betty Boop look-alike. Risk’s role in American Mary is chilling and worthy of a Best Supporting Actress award. The moment we hear her tiny voice asking for Dr. Mason on the phone, I was immediately worried for the safety of Mary. Not to worry, she’s a harmless stripper looking for a doctor to sew her friend’s lady parts shut. There’s even some comedic relief when Risk says, ‘Honey, don’t be a cunt.”
If you’re seeking a gore-fest and or a typical horror film, you wont find it here. While there’s plenty of blood shed, it’s all very subtle. There are some nifty and effective lighting tricks – Most notably the red bulb in Mary’s refrigerator (I want one.) It’s also beautifully filmed by the talented Soska sisters. Bravo Soska’s. Bravo.