Friday, October 19, 2012

Toronto After Dark 2012: My Thoughts on American Mary

American MaryAmerican Mary is the second film by Jen and Sylvia Soska, also know as The Twisted Twins.  The film focuses on a medical student named Mary (played by Ginger Snap’s Katherine Isabelle), who finds herself in a little financial difficulty.  In an effort to to make some money, she applies for a job at a strip club.  During the interview, the owner (Antonio Cupo) asks Mary to perform an emergency surgery.  This attracts the attention of Beatress, a somewhat odd stripper at the club, who introduces Mary to the world of body modification.

American Mary is less of a straight-up horror film and more of a dark comedy, with there being a lot of macabre humour involving the modifications Mary performs.  That said, it is hinted throughout that Mary is a budding sociopath, especially when she uses her old med-school professor as a “canvas” to practice her modifications as revenge for him drugging and raping her.  That said, the film never really fully capitalizes on the truly dark aspects of Mary’s personality.

It was stated during the Q&A after the film that the plot of American Mary was a semi-improvised idea the Soska sisters told Eli Roth after he asked them what projects they had planned.  It seemed a bit apparent to me that the film went into production without the idea being fully formed.  In fact, I would probably go as far to say the film would have probably made a better short film than feature.  While I thought the first half of the film was decent (if not extremely weird and messed up), once Mary turns body modification into a career for herself, the film meanders a bit, with many scenes seeming like filler.

Of course, I probably should talk a bit about the body modification itself.  There are definitely some weird characters in the film, including Beatress, who have modified themselves to the point that they essentially look like living dolls.  In fact, many of these weird characters resulted in me thinking back to REPO: The Genetic Opera, which also features weird surgically modified people.  Of course, there’s some more “real world” modifications featured in the film, such as tongue-splitting.  I have to admit that it’s not really my cup of tea.

So, what are my final opinions of American Mary?  Well, I will say that of a technical aspect, it was a well-made, if not somewhat over-stylized, film.  As for the plot, I will repeat that it seemed like it did not really know where it was going and that the whole story could have better been told in 30, rather than 95, minutes.  I’m not saying that American Mary is a bad film, I just thought that it could have been fleshed out a little more and delve more into Mary’s dark sociopathic nature.  That said, I do admit that my lukewarm response to the film is probably partially due to the fact that the subject matter isn’t really my thing.  I’m sure American Mary will find its audience, it just won’t include me.

6 | WATCHABLE