Published May 30, 2013Three years after their directorial debut with their gory underground exploitation film, Dead Hooker in a Trunk, Canadian filmmaking duo The Soska Sisters deliver their unequivocally peculiar sophomore effort that devotes more time giving praise to the body modification scene than making a film with smooth storytelling and a coherent plot.
In American Mary, Katherine Isabelle plays Mary Mason, a broke yet promising medical student who is knee deep in debt and is struggling to stay in med school. Fearful of being kicked out by her strict professor, (David Lovgren) Mary decides to go the "Craigslist" route and get a job at a local strip club to pay off her debt.
During the "interview," she is unexpectedly called upon by the club owner (Anthony Cupo) to help keep a tortured employee alive through a last-minute surgery in exchange for a huge stack of cash. Afterwards, Mary is pursued by Beatrice, (Tristan Risk) a body modified Betty Boop look-a-like, who is willing to pay Mary thousands of dollars to make her friend anatomically similar to a Barbie doll.
Mary is on cloud nine as she is welcomed into the body modification scene until suffering a brutal assault from her professor. With this incident, Mary realizes her true calling and what follows is perverse, hallucinatory chaos.
At first, American Mary exceeds expectations with its sly dark humor, suspenseful and cringe-worthy surgery scenes, and its killer soundtrack that manages to go right for the jugular. Unfortunately, after the hour mark, the film loses its steam and momentum with a muddled script and horrendous pacing and editing issues.
It's a shame, since American Mary is full of solid performances (most notably from Katherine Isabelle) and if the filmmakers weren't so focused on showcasing the body mod community in a "Glee"-like fashion, instead concentrating on writing another draft for the film, it could have successfully reached larger audience.
Being neither a success nor a failure, American Mary is occasionally elevated by some of its cast and slick humor, even though the vicious and incoherent second and third act limit its full potential. (Anchor Bay)