Mary Mason, a medical student studying to become a surgeon, gets into some shady business when she applies for a job to get some extra cash. The young student is quickly thrown into a world of body modification, and she is becoming the go-to person for the most extreme of modifications.
I might be in a minority of reviewers: I never watched or wanted to watch "Dead Hooker in a Trunk". It should've interested me, but it never did. It happens with certain titles, and this was one of them. It certainly didn't help that Preston reviewed that one, which means I didn't even have a "professional" (hah!) reason to watch it. I haven't had much interest in the Soska sisters, and that's nothing personal, but when Katharine Isabelle got attached to "American Mary" I'll admit to being interested. As a huge fan of the "Ginger Snaps" trilogy, why wouldn't I be?
"American Mary" (it could be called "Canadian Mary", since Katharine is Canadian and so is the movie, but let's not be silly now!) tells the story of Mary Mason. She's a medical student who hopes to become surgeon one day. Hell, she's far along too, and quite a good student to boot. If you ignore her attitude, of course. She's more skilled than the majority of her class. But being a student of any kind means you're probably broke, just like Mary is. Her desperation leads her to apply for a job as a stripper, but the job interview takes a weird turn when someone associated with the club is in need of surgery - quick. Mary's dragged in and she has to perform surgery on this really messed up man. It's quite the job for a medical student to do, but she does it. And it changes her. People hear about what she did, and she gets contacted by people that are into extreme body modifications such as trying to look like a doll or Betty Boop. Mary soon throws away her ambitions to become a typical surgeon, and becomes a popular name in the underground world of body modifications.
What is the rise and the fall of a movie like "American Mary"? The rise for me most definitely is that Katharine Isabelle plays the lead role. She's a really likable actor, and it's hard not to want to watch a horror movie with her in it. Another rise (you know I mean "positive thing", right?) is that the storyline is quite to the point and easy to get into. Also the effects are quite good.
Let's look at the negative things of "American Mary", which are often much stronger than the positive things. Most importantly is that I find little-to-no character development in our lead character. Even though Katharine Isabelle is likable, her character is not. And her character remains equally unlikable from start to finish. It would be understandable if a nice girl (nice girls can be strong too) becomes hardened and "bitchy" through-out the things that happen in the movie, but Mary starts with bitchy attitude and ends with bitchy attitude. There are just a few scenes that show anything beside that in her, and that's a real shame.
Katharine Isabelle is still the better actor in the movie, hands down, and I don't mind watching her even if she's not likable. Several actors are less than fantastic, and sadly that can be said about our director duo too. The moment the two of them enter the movie it becomes rather silly with their German accents. The kind of focus that is put on the two characters makes you think that they would be a big part of the story down the line, but they aren't. It's understandable if directors put themselves or people they know in movies, but I don't know what the reason for this kind of attention to two characters is if they are not gonna be important. No surprise, perhaps, that they decided to make their characters the most odd ones in the movie - if you could choose your own role in a film, I'm sure you'd want something that stands out too. But Jen, Sylvia, you should probably rethink putting you in too much focus just because you are in the movie.
"American Mary" lacks a lot of things that would draw me into the movie. But it works as a rather shallow horror movie about body modification. It has several scenes that are underwhelming in both emotion and artistic decisions, characters that you don't develop, failed attempts at shock. Let's be honest - in 2013 it takes quite a lot to come off as shocking, and you either have to really show the most despicable things imaginable, or have us so invested in our character that it hurts us when they are hurt. "American Mary" is a few hundred miles away from that. I don't think it's a terrible watch, and some parts of it are quite alright so it definitely works as weekend entertainment.