Note: No spoilers are in this review.
A recent horror film that has been given a lot praise over the past few months is American Mary, the film was directed and wrote both by Jen and Sylvia Soska (also known as the Soska Sisters) who also done the film Dead Hooker in a Trunk back in 2009 which received very mixed reviews. But does this effort succeed, or fall flat?
American Mary follows the story of surgery student Mary Mason, a student that has a lot of potential in actually becoming a surgeon. Mary switches up turkeys in her apartment in her spare time, practicing as much as she can to be even better than she is. After needing money and not having enough, she decides to go to a strip club to audition for a job. But the job she ends up with at the end of the night, isn’t the one she thought she would have. Mary ends up as a black-market surgeon, to switch up victims of the mob that run the strip club. Quickly after her first job at the club, Mary is contacted by Beatress (Tristan Risk) who wants Mary to perform body modification on her, to fulfill her dream of becoming a living doll true. Mary ends up going down a path of twisted revenge and black market jobs.
From the start it’s very clear that the Soska Sisters have thought up an original and interesting plot, with a likeable character like Mary Mason played by Katharine Isabelle who has brilliant character progression. She turns from a nice student who is trying her best to a revenge driven monster by the end. Isabelle puts in a stunning performance as Mary, I don’t think anyone else could of played the role better.
But it’s not all good for American Mary, when the movie starts to get really good and interesting, there always seems to be some scenes that stop its ‘flow’. Many of these scenes involve Billy Barker, the owner/boss of the strip club that Mary works for. In the movie it’s clear that Billy likes Mary, but the way the film depicts these emotions is extremely bad. The scenes involve Mary as a stripper and dancing around on stage half-naked, pouring blood on herself, etc. It wouldn’t bother me if these scenes didn’t drag on for what seemed forever. They go on too long, and these type of scenes reappear later on in the film too in different ways. Billy’s emotions could of been portrayed differently and more effectively than just have Mary on-stage half-naked dancing. It also seemed like a cheap move to please male viewers too, considering they drag on too long and rarely serve a purpose at all. Yes, it could be said that since it is Billy’s imagination it’s what he wants and that is Mary, but I still think it could of been done differently or just left out all together.
Another problem that surfaces in American Mary is that as the films goes on, you kind of lose target of who you are suppose to be cheering for, near the end of the film there is no one to be rooting for, to be hoping makes it out all okay. As I said previously Mary does change over time, but that also has a bad side. She changes into a person that you can’t like, her actions are brutal and you can’t find any emotions in her at all.
A reoccurring theme I see in American Mary when I look back at it now is, the film begins really well and then gets progressively worse as it goes on. One problem I found with the ending is that there is a plot-hole sort of, though I will not go into any detail because this is a non-spoiler review, I just have to note that there is an instance where you ask yourself, “Why didn’t x character just do a certain thing?” and it’s a problem, I’ve talked to others who have seen the film and they too told me that they asked themselves the same question.
American Mary is a film with a very original and creative storyline, but riddled with bad ideas and silly decisions. Is the film bad? No, not in the slightest. If you find the movie interesting then you should see it, because there is good aspects. But is the film great? No it’s not either, certain parts of the movie drag out with a plot-hole at the end too take away how great the film could of been.