Mary (Katherine Isabelle) is a promising and dedicated medical student who, like all students at one point or another in their studies, falls foul of financial difficulty. Lured into the world of body modification by the handsome prices offered by weirdos with a desire to make themselves more unique, Mary finds a way to continue her studies whilst earning some pretty good money. Wrongly assumed to have become a prostitute by her creepy professor she is invited to a sleazy surgeons party unaware that he has ulterior motives that make her new found profession start to take over her life.
American Mary is one of few horror films that’s focus is on the female character’s strength. Mary goes from being a hardworking model student to a psychotic body modification surgeon in a seedy strip club where she originally auditioned to work. The transformation from quiet student to headstrong surgical dominatrix after being violated is both empowering and contradictory of the traditional representation of women in horror. Katherine Isabelle is as charismatic as she is beautiful and she completely owns the character. She maintains an air of mystery which makes you constantly question her intentions towards the people she meets and her performance will keep you on your toes.
Darkly comedic and completely twisted American Mary is one damn good reason for women in the media to be more prevalent in the horror genre; there’s no fluff in this film, no cliche crap and very little predictability. It has no eye-roll moments of exploitation and Isabelle‘s performance is empowering for women as well as easy on the eye for the men; a good balance that excludes neither gender from the audience like so many horror films do. The Soska sisters show their love for the horror genre and its brutality but also its more sexy side (which is weird considering all the blood, but there we go!) and American Mary is clearly a labour of love and not just some uncared for cliche torture porn that’s been churned out as a money maker. The settings are seedy and dark and the sleazy underbelly of society is well portrayed but in an almost desirable fashion that enables us to see how easy it is for Mary to get sucked in to this world where money comes easily if you’re willing to leave your comfort zone.
If you can ignore the occasionally questionable performances American Mary is an all round brilliant horror film that sucks you in to this brutal, seedy, sexy universe for 100 minutes (approx) and refuses to let your attention slip. What happens to Mary’s professor is as genius as it is disturbing, but you will have to watch to find out for yourself.