American Mary (2012): Review

June 11, 2013 12:08 pm

Directed by the progressively popular twin sisters, Jen and Sylvia Soska, the low-budget American Mary presents a voyeuristic yet psychologically volatile view into the dark worlds of body modification, rape and torture. The Soska twins, already having an impressive background in film with their love of all things horror, both direct and star in this 5-time Screamfest winning movie, which continues to be the subject of interest for many horror movie enthusiasts and newbies alike.   american mary

Katharine Isabelle plays Mary Mason, an attractive and intelligent medical student who is struggling to make ends meet. Her tough financial situation leads to her applying for a job at a strip club. However, Mary’s first night of work goes awry as club owner, Billy Barker (Antonio Cupo) asks her to treat a physically tortured man for his wounds. Scared and unfamiliar with the unclean environment, Mary hesitantly treats the man and returns home, only to throw up. Later approached by Betty Boop impersonator Beatress Johnson (Tristan Risk), Mary is paid copious amounts of money to perform an outrageous body modification procedure on Barbie look-alike Ruby Realgirl (Paula Lindberg), which takes place in a veterinary clinic. For a first experience, the audience easily accepts that Mary’s shaken reaction is only natural. However, after Mary has a destructive experience with a professor, she soon becomes desensitized towards the gruesome aspects of anatomy.

The Soska twins have an innate ability to mould plots around not just events but people, their minds and their emotional fragility. While being intelligent and bold, Mary still has a naivety about her, which is clear in her rare conversations with her grandmother and the occasional moments to herself. Collaboratively, Isabelle methodologically plays a young woman who is aware of her beauty and is willing to do what it takes to fulfill her ambitions of becoming a surgeon, whilst being drawn into a very dark realm and away from her enchantment with medicine. However, do not expect any nudity from Isabelle; it is a known fact that she refuses to do nude scenes.

american mary A major issue the movie addresses is the dark psyche that follows sexual assault. This darkness is echoed by the cinematography in the change of lighting when Mary is raped by a professor, which becomes the last swing of the axe that cuts off her humanity. With a significant interest in body modification, there is a physical dimension to an emotional transformation within Mary; the more she develops, the more graphic her tasks become.

American Mary is accompanied by a mix of both orchestral and rock music which all show the shifting and tumultuous emotions Mary goes through. When she is at work, the melodious tunes allude to a serene yet haunting aura surrounding her, while the rock music highlights the stark gruesomeness of certain scenes. The Soska sisters clearly made a good choice when casting Peter Allen as music editor.

Conclusively, this is a must-see horror movie, which will hopefully steer producers and audiences away from the generic haunted house and zombie sub-genres of the past few years, shedding a light on an equally capable independent film society. The Soska sisters pull off an impressive medley of marginalized horror themes with a unique combination of gore and class.

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