There’s just something about Mary and in the Sloska Twins newest film I think Ben Stiller would’ve had bigger problems on his hands than a glop of baby batter. As far as my movie watching goes I can’t really think of anything I would consider body mod horror so AMERICAN MARY may have just busted my cherry in that sense and while I’m favorable about my first time, I have to think it can still get better from here.
Mary Mason (Katharine Isabelle) has a delightful comic book kind of name, but she’s also putting herself through med school and having a hard time paying the bills as a result. One night Mary decides she needs quick easy cash and shows up at a local strip club where the owner takes advantage of the fact that she’s an aspiring surgeon and has her patch up one of his friends for a quick $5,000. Word gets out as she is tracked down by Beatress (Tristan Risk), who has had work done to make herself look like Betty Boop, and she opens Mary’s eyes up to an underground world of body modification. Mary is hesitant about diving into her new hobby until her faith in med school and ultimately her sanity are simultaneously broken and she embraces the body mod world with open arms.
The only real issues I had with this film are a few actors and their line delivery, but also some issues in the last act where the film kind of switches from an engaging character study to more of a fractured revenge story. The last act isn’t terrible by any means, my problems with it stem around how rushed it feels with some of the editing choices.
The rest of the film is pretty inoffensive and entertaining. Granted there is a turning point near the middle of the film for Mary that serves as one of the film’s more affecting moments and even though it’s not horribly graphic it’s still quite disturbing. There are moments of violence that never reach over-the-top levels- quite the contrary as the violence and bloodshed in general are filmed in a very reserved and tasteful fashion.
The Soska twins keep AMERICAN MARY moving at a very brisk pace, making it a pretty easy watch, but also serving to make it seem a little too fast pace as things are spiraling out of control near the end. The first half of the film paints a pretty clear and interesting picture of Mary as a character that the turning point to the last half seems to transform her in a very stark way that may be understandable, but is still a little hard to fully grasp the extent to which she changes.
The screenplay is a style all in its own as well as the Soska’s have a bit of a bizarro Diablo Cody way of writing dialogue. The words out of people’s mouths aren’t quite what you’d expect from you’re average everyday folks and in many ways the world the characters live in is bizzare in general. It works very well as escapist fun as well as in sheer creativity on behalf of the Soska’s writing style.
AMERICAN MARY is more often than not an extremely entertaining and interesting character study and excercise in body mod horror, but also a great way look into the growing potential of the Soska twins as filmmakers and writers. Katharine Isabelle delivers a great performance that gives her a chance to cycle through a wide range of emotions and character types. The latter half of the film dips into material that feels rushed and a little less focused, but is enjoyable in its own right to make AMERICAN MARY as a whole an immensely enjoyable horror thriller. It also makes a case to make the Soska twins a name to remember in the horror community.
Written By: Luke (@CrummyLuke on Twitter)