August 28, 2014

Netflix Review: American Mary (2013)
This week's Netflix Review is a movie from 2013 that we never sat down and watched all the way through until just now. We don't know why we kept putting it off over and over again (we've had a copy in our hands for well over a year), but it wasn't until a recent search of Netflix that we finally said "You know what, we need to watch this right now."

American Mary was at the top of many "Best Of" lists in 2013, and many people have hailed it as a modern-day classic of sorts.

Classic or not, this is exactly the kind of movie that makes Netflix such a cool thing to have.
Mary Mason is a "far too sexy to be a surgeon" medical student, who is struggling to pay her bills while studying her ass off, and as all sexy medical students do, she resorts to stripping to earn money to survive. During her "interview" at the club, the owner tells her that if she comes to the basement, she can "earn" herself a quick $5000. All she has to do for the money, is perform some illegal surgery on a guy who's been tortured, and save his life. Needless to say, she's all for it.

American Sexy.
A few days later, Mary is approached by a creepy bitch named Beatress, who has had a bunch of surgeries to make her look like a retarded version of Betty Boop. Beatress offers Mary $10k to meet with her equally freakish-looking friend, Ruby Realgirl; Ruby wants to have her nipples and meat curtains removed, so that she too can look like a living doll out of my deepest nightmares. Of course Mary does this odd job as well, because, why not.

Mental illness is a real thing, people.
When some of the Doctors at her Hospital invite her to a party, where they drug and rape her(because men are evil), Mary calls on her club owner friend to help her kidnap the offending creeper, so that she can fuck him up real good with a scalpel. And saws. And a bunch of other surgical instruments.

A back-alley root canal is always a good place to start when seeking revenge against a rapist.
From here on out, Mary quits school and decides to become an underground surgeon instead. I guess the moral of this story is "why go to school and end up getting raped when you can just do illegal Body Mod surgery on the mentally ill." I don't know.

I won't spoil the ending for you here, but I will say that we still have no clue what the title American Mary even means.

Bitch don't play.
American Mary is a really engaging movie that made us laugh as much as it did flinch. I mean, it's obviously not a movie that is steeped in much reality, and a lot of it is just too damned bizarre to take seriously, but as an escapist rumination on revenge, it works perfectly.

Whether the story and it's odd characters do anything for you or not, you can't ignore the fact that the Soska Sisters directed the hell out of this one. It not only looks and feels like a slick, Hollywood production, but the no one in the cast feels out of place or out of their depth. American Mary may have had some dialogue and story issues that didn't thrill us, but everything else was on point.

If anyone doubts the acting skill of Katharine Isabelle, they should really see American Mary. She's fantastic in this, and to be honest, had any other actress played the title role, we may not have enjoyed it as much. She truly owns this movie, and she does so effortlessly. We really don't understand why she doesn't get more high profile roles, because there doesn't seem to be much that she can't handle on screen.

Worst stripper ever.
Everything was gong so well right up until the point where Mary did a complete 180, and instantly became a vengeful murderess. Maybe she was mentally unstable to begin with, and being traumatized finally pushed her over the edge, but we got no realistic transitional period to convinced us that her transformation was genuine.

I mean the first half of the movie was great (aside from some of the quirky bits), but around the halfway mark, the movie turned into an entirely different animal. We liked what it turned into, but it just felt as if it didn't fit perfectly with what had come before. Maybe we just liked Mary more when she was actually sympathetic.

GHB is a hell of a drug.
The whole Body Mod thing is absolutely lost on us as well. I will never understand how disfiguring ones self equates to showing the world who they truly are. The quirkiness of the twins, the fake Betty Boop, the woman who wanted to be a living doll... it was all just a bit much. Had they lost some of the goofier elements of the movie, it would have been better off. 

We get that American Mary had to play quirky and odd to be able to tell its story, but couldn't it have been just a tiny bit more realistic, or at least not so unrealistic?

What happened to you as a child?
Rape, plenty of instances of Body Bod surgery and its aftermath, a stabbing, some tazing, a good and hearty bludgeoning, plenty of torture... American Mary is one visceral, and violent flick, even though it doesn't get crazy gratuitous about it.

"Don't taze me, ho!"
We get a few topless girls in this one, but most of the sexuality in this one is implied or played down. Also, Katharine Isabelle, though she doesn't get naked, looks sexy as hell in most of the scenes that she's in. Girl's just got it like that.

Not really digging the bangs, but that's just us.
Few women wear a leather apron as well as Katharine Isabelle. Also, any girl who has an intimate relationship with a turkey is not well in the head.

She really loved that turkey.
American Mary may have its share of issues, but the fact is that it's a bold and enjoyable movie that we just couldn't help but love. Mostly. The fact that it's on Netflix is reason enough for any Horror fan with Netflix to sit down and give it a go, although we have to imagine that it looks gorgeous on Blu-ray. Netflix or not, if you haven't seen this one yet, you really need to add it to your short list asap.


American Mary is available now on Blu-ray, DVD, VOD, and as of right now, it's streaming free on Netflix.

Katharine Isabelle is the hottest thing to come out of Canada since maple syrup! Wait, is maple syrup even a Canadian thing? If not, then we'll go with Bryan Adams, because he was awesome.


  1. This one isn't for the weak hearted who would faint at the idea of a living doll. On the one hand, the Soska Sisters showed us plenty of different Body Mods but on the other hand decided not to show us in detail. That would have destroyed much of the mood because most people would run for their life if they had. As you have pointed out, I was a bit dissapointed that the movie turned into a revenge thingy ever so fast. All in all, the lead actrice was able to pull the whole thing on a higher level, Katharine Isabelle is really sexy and the acting was very convincing.

    Perhaps, the title leans a bit on "American Psycho".

  2. I really liked this movie, I would give it an A-. ;)
    I was a little disappointed, because the revenge part was much underplayed, limiting the "rape-and-revenge" theme to a mere excuse for Mary to have her "breakdown". The film would be more consistent if the Soska sisters would have concentrated on one horror sub-genre instead of mixing body horror & "rape-and-revenge".
    I loved to finally see a nice gory horror piece involving body modifications. However... I might be sick, but I thought that not all of the mods shown were very extreme... Come one, implants? Tongue splitting? Everyone can get those done anytime they like. Genital reconstruction? Getting more & more popular among the body mod community. Voluntary amputations disturbed me a little though... But I still think U shouldn't offend your eventual readers who are fans of mody modifications by saying they're "disfiguring" themselves. It's still kinf of a sensitive matter...
    The first time I watched "American Mary" I hated the rushed ending, which seemed to make no sense at all, but after the second time it occured to me that it actually isn't so out of nothing after all... It involves Mary getting punished for having desexualized Ruby, which I think makes the point of how women are under pressure to be sexual objects. ;)
    Also, I think the title "American Mary" could be a criticism of the American society, which made Mary (who was of Hungarian origin) undergo her change, limited her to a much sexualized being, and punished her for having deprived Ruby of her sexuality.