American Mary (18)

Film

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Time Out rating:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>4</span>/5

User ratings:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>4</span>/5
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Time Out says

Posted: Mon Dec 24 2012

Once in a while, a mould-breaking horror movie signals the arrival of a unique talent: doubly so in this case, since this bracingly perverse ‘body modification’ tale was made by Canadian twins Jen and Sylvia Soska, aka the Twisted Sisters. When her medical studies are ended by a trauma that shatters her life and career, Mary (Katharine Isabelle) finds herself moonlighting as the surgeon of choice for ‘body mod’ extremists such as Ruby Realgirl (Paula Lindberg), who seeks doll-like perfection by having all traces of her sexuality sliced off. Mary is then befriended by surgically altered Betty Boop-lookalike Beatress Johnson (Tristan Risk), embraced by the marginal ‘body mod’ community and empowered to take scalpel-wielding revenge on Dr Grant (David Lovgren), the man who destroyed her dreams. Unlike the Twisted Sisters’ derivative fan-girl debut, ‘Dead Hooker in a Trunk’ (2009), this sexy, scalpel-sharp feminist horror movie is driven by credible, fleshed-out characters and scarily seductive ideas. ‘American Mary’ nods savvily to the ‘body horror’ of ‘Audition’ and ‘Dead Ringers’ but still possesses a truly original, deeply disturbing vision.
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Release details

Rated:

18

UK release:

Fri Jan 11, 2013

Duration:

103 mins

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<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>0</span>/5

Average User Rating

4.4 / 5

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LiveReviews|7
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Derek Manning

Transformation of character is presented in a fashion unknown to this generation. That fashion is sheer excellence. Katherine Isabelle presents the best thrill ride in the last 30 years by indulging the audience in a wave of a root-for-the-incredibly-twisted-monster bloodbath. Combining aspects of Johnny Depp's Sweeney Todd, Pollyanna McIntosh's The Woman, and most notably, Jack Nicholson's Jack Torrance gives Isabelle's Mary the best, most complete, performance in horror history. We follow a young woman, lost in her sheer commitment to follow her passion by becoming a surgeon, as she fights to attend her extremely demanding courses, practice her technique, and compete in highly skilled examinations, all while trying to manage paying for medical school and keeping her financial head above water. Credibility couldn't be higher as we observe very real burdens that many of us relate well to. Choosing a life of romance is simply out of the question, although respecting family and keeping a profile of social capability are obligations that are not conditionally ignored. Mary is in medical school, and thus, extremely familiar with the game created by institutions to exasperate all funds possible by manipulating the student through hoops and requiring perfection. The surprising element in the professor's lecture is not by any means his harshness or his demand for attention, but his choice of degradation towards those who disregard his lectures. While the ignorant viewer quickly uses this for a chance to credit the film to a quick route into torture porn, we simply understand a vital element in our antagonist's moral behavior. Our descent into madness doesn't take long after Mary begins to flirt with underground procedure. Her hesitation and surprise for inconceivable situation never cease to play a toll on her, although her drive and ability to conceal her thoughts (at least long enough to perform the task) enable her to thrive in a market that is sure to exist. Isabelle's portrayal never lets up as it dives deeper into an "Iceman"/I Spit on Your Grave blend of creative revenge and stone cold obligation. A complex and confusing final sequence of events manages to further captivate the audience, but ultimately cease to satisfy them. Long after the credits roll, one is left desperately trying to explain the film into brilliance and film immortality instead of a heartbreaking placement into above average creativity. Symbolism is high. Sacrifice is apparent. Less noticeable however, may be the undertone that seems to line the entire course of the film: Acceptance of individuality, but even further - how far one CAN go against how far one SHOULD go to achieve their dreams. The audience experiences an inward look of self character, much like they did at the conclusion of Burton's Sweeney Todd. Who is the man? Who is the monster? Who was simply carried away obsession? Black and white lines turn gray more beautifully and subtly in American Mary than most films of this generation.

Derek Manning

Transformation of character is presented in a fashion unknown to this generation. That fashion is sheer excellence. Katherine Isabelle presents the best thrill ride in the last 30 years by indulging the audience in a wave of a root-for-the-incredibly-twisted-monster bloodbath. Combining aspects of Johnny Depp's Sweeney Todd, Pollyanna McIntosh's The Woman, and most notably, Jack Nicholson's Jack Torrance gives Isabelle's Mary the best, most complete, performance in horror history. We follow a young woman, lost in her sheer commitment to follow her passion by becoming a surgeon, as she fights to attend her extremely demanding courses, practice her technique, and compete in highly skilled examinations, all while trying to manage paying for medical school and keeping her financial head above water. Credibility couldn't be higher as we observe very real burdens that many of us relate well to. Choosing a life of romance is simply out of the question, although respecting family and keeping a profile of social capability are obligations that are not conditionally ignored. Mary is in medical school, and thus, extremely familiar with the game created by institutions to exasperate all funds possible by manipulating the student through hoops and requiring perfection. The surprising element in the professor's lecture is not by any means his harshness or his demand for attention, but his choice of degradation towards those who disregard his lectures. While the ignorant viewer quickly uses this for a chance to credit the film to a quick route into torture porn, we simply understand a vital element in our antagonist's moral behavior. Our descent into madness doesn't take long after Mary begins to flirt with underground procedure. Her hesitation and surprise for inconceivable situation never cease to play a toll on her, although her drive and ability to conceal her thoughts (at least long enough to perform the task) enable her to thrive in a market that is sure to exist. Isabelle's portrayal never lets up as it dives deeper into an "Iceman"/I Spit on Your Grave blend of creative revenge and stone cold obligation. A complex and confusing final sequence of events manages to further captivate the audience, but ultimately cease to satisfy them. Long after the credits roll, one is left desperately trying to explain the film into brilliance and film immortality instead of a heartbreaking placement into above average creativity. Symbolism is high. Sacrifice is apparent. Less noticeable however, may be the undertone that seems to line the entire course of the film: Acceptance of individuality, but even further - how far one CAN go against how far one SHOULD go to achieve their dreams. The audience experiences an inward look of self character, much like they did at the conclusion of Burton's Sweeney Todd. Who is the man? Who is the monster? Who was simply carried away obsession? Black and white lines turn gray more beautifully and subtly in American Mary than most films of this generation.

Chris Upton

Beautifully shot for such a low budget film and it's also good to see Katherine Isabelle in a decent role after slumming it on the Sci Fi channel. I'm not a hipster either.

tom huddleston

If you'd been to Time Out's offices - or indeed ever met nigel Floyd - you wouldn't be throwing the 'h' word around so freely Alex.

Alex Forte

Drivel - but just what you'd expect from a hipster freesheet. Just because this embarrassing mess is directed by women doesn't make it a 'scalpel-sharp feminist horror movie'. More like an incompetent companion piece to Michael Winner's Dirty Weekend. Get a grip.

George J Greene

This is a truly erotic but disturbing film from people with wonderfully sick minds! Erotic but far from porn.Katherine Isabelle was a bit recognisable then I realised she was the lead in the wonderful Ginger Snapsis she going to ma'ke her career as an erotic diva? She cerftainly has the ,body for it! Katherine I!m a fan! So if you are pretty unshockable this movie is for you.Under nocircumstances take your mum,gran or anyone of a nervous disposition,it might harm them for life.Now and again I see a film which makewonder about the state of mind of the writer ,s me director etc,you are one sick bunch of really fun creative people bring it on,I will be very interested to see how this film manages out in the big normal world,I hope it is a commercial success as it must have cost loads to make but it might just be too offensive for many out there but not for me,Im sure it may encourage me to continue my descent into dirty old manhood!

George J Greene

This is a truly erotic but disturbing film from people with wonderfully sick minds! Erotic but far from porn.Katherine Isabelle was a bit recognisable then I realised she was the lead in the wonderful Ginger Snapsis she going to ma'ke her career as an erotic diva? She cerftainly has the ,body for it! Katherine I!m a fan! So if you are pretty unshockable this movie is for you.Under nocircumstances take your mum,gran or anyone of a nervous disposition,it might harm them for life.Now and again I see a film which makewonder about the state of mind of the writer ,s me director etc,you are one sick bunch of really fun creative people bring it on,I will be very interested to see how this film manages out in the big normal world,I hope it is a commercial success as it must have cost loads to make but it might just be too offensive for many out there but not for me,Im sure it may encourage me to continue my descent into dirty old manhood!