I’m pretty sure that I’m not the only one who thinks that the Soska sisters made quite an impression at this year’s FrightFest festival, and that’s not even taking into account their wonderful new film American Mary.
Looking for money, young medical student Mary (Katherine Isabelle) grudgingly accepts, at the request of a local club owner, to do a surgical procedure in his basement. Returning to her normal life believing it was a one off thing; Mary’s surprised when the bubbly Beatress (Tristan Risk) ends up on her doorstep. Beatress, a woman who’s modified her face and body to look like Betty Boop, asks for her help to use her skills for a friend. As Mary discovers the world of body modification, as well as the seduction of quick, fast cash, she becomes delves deeper and deeper into the world of underground surgery.
Original is a word that’s not often used within horror nowadays, which of Couse, is a shame, however, with this lack of originality in the genre, it only makes seeing a film such as American Mary that much more satisfying. Unflinching, shocking but somehow very touching and personal at the same time, American Mary is something new and well, I believe it’s something to shout from the rooftops about.
Carefully handled, it’s an inside look at the body mod scene gazing out at the world. It takes the global stereotype of body modification and shows us the sometimes tragic truths behind the individuals. It might be a surprise to some that the act of changing your body, for most individuals, is not for sexual or fetish reasons but something that they need to do so that they can – finally – feel comfortable in their own skin and be the perfect version of themselves. And this realisation and transformation from judging a person by what they look rather than who they are is beautifully handled through Mary’s character.
The juxtaposition between the male orientated world of surgery where Mary is nothing but the lecturers and other surgeons’ plaything, to the world of Underground surgery where she has the power as well as the ability to have full control of her life is one that is not evident to her until a horrific incident. The catalyst for her career path leads to a shift in character, with the tone of the piece becomes more brooding and darker also, and rightly so.
The film just clicked for me, not perfect by any means; however, it still manages to pack one hell of a wallop. Not for anyone who suffers from a queasy stomach, it’s brilliantly able to blend disturbing scenes with laughs and with Katherine Isabelle on top form; American Mary is a film not to be missed. A true original modern horror.