Forgotten Friday Flick – “American Mary”

Today’s distinctively female helmed past flick marks a twisted family pairing to die for – welcome to Forgotten Friday Flick!  Ever remember watching early work by odd auteurs and having an epiphany moment of ‘here is a talent not to ignore’ – welcome the Soska Sisters.  Steeped in both a love of horror and a skill of making truly unforgettable films, the Soska’s revel in all things genre related and this week’s perversely and passionately abnormal flick is one of their best.  A wonderfully insane conundrum of horror, drama, revenge and the effect power has over people – in other words a seriously savory mind job known as….American Mary!

Mary Mason is a hard working med student with equal parts potential and accruing debt.  In order to facilitate her aspirations, she tries for a job at a local strip club, but fortunately fate steps in.  Coming face to face with a man who has been brutally hurt, a connected club boss makes her an offer she can’t refuse – big money for a little unlicensed medical intervention.  But after completing the job successfully, word begins to get around about the gal with an affinity and talent for the blade and soon surgeon Mary finds herself neck deep in the very strange world of body modification.

There are certainly a ton of twisted story arcs not listed above (I’m not going to spoil them for fans!), but rest assured they all make for a wonderfully original off kilter cinematic experience.  Playing God for the deviant crowd, Nip/Tuck without television censorship and a pinch of The Descent for the surgically excited, American Mary throws all in a creative blender and pushes puree with gleeful gusto.  I would liken it to early Cronenberg, in that the visceral visual story and overall eccentric vibe really create something that’s way too hard to categorize.

And right at the center of the Soska Sisters askew vision is a fearless chameleon performance by Ginger Snaps alum Katharine Isabelle as the weary Mary.  Part lost soul dreamer, part power hungry madwoman, but all with a sense of sadistic style, Isabelle’s Mary is the epitome of female empowerment gone awry.  Of course it helps that she’s surrounded by equally layered men like infatuated club owner Antonia Cupo and personal bodyguard Twan Holliday, but this film is much more interested in the female perspective.  In fact you could say that the ladies who enlist Mary’s services – like Betty Boop obsessed gal Beatress and infatuated doll groupie Ruby Realgirl – are equally conflicted and like their faithful surgeon have a love/hate relationship with themselves.

But I have to give serious props to the writer/director team Jen and Sylvia Soska.  Not only do they deliver the signature sleazy stuff in addition to blood and gore galore, but pull it off with a distinctive air of class.  Plus mixing in humor (a cameo as twin gals looking to do a little appendage exchange makes the Soska’s a triple threat here!), drama (love the unconventional heart-to-heart scene between Mary and her husky protector Lance!) and a little revenge (this one makes Boxing Helena look like a Sesame Street episode!) shows a real affinity to buck the status quo – two loud and welcome female voices that won’t be ignored.

Like strange artists before them (David Lynch and Dario Argento come to mind), I’m both scared and excited to see everything The Soska Sisters decide to unleash on the big screen.  (Word has it their next outing will be a remake of Cronenberg’s Rabid – I’m intrigued!)  But in the realm of the unknown, the place of complex and on the tightrope of the unconventional is where great work often lies in waiting.  It’s an unknown world where most would be lost – thankfully the sick and savvy Soska Sisters seem to know their way around.


I'm a passionate and opinionated film critic/movie journalist with over 20 years of experience in writing about film - now exclusively for WhySoBlu.com. Previous sites include nine years at Starpulse.com where I created Forgotten Friday Flick back in 2011, before that as Senior Entertainment Editor for The213.net and 213 Magazine, as well as a staff writer for JoBlo.com. My other love is doing cool events for the regular guy with my company Flicks For Fans alongside my friend, partner and Joblo.com writer James "Jimmy O" Oster. Check us out at www.Facebook.com/FlicksForFans.

1 Response to “Forgotten Friday Flick – “American Mary””

  1. Brian White

    Nice I liked this movie! Reviewed it here once upon a time http://whysoblu.com/american-mary-blu-ray-review/