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28 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Innovative and fresh horror
Mary Mason is an ambitious and focused medical student who is down her luck. Growing increasingly more broke, she desperately needs money and hits rock bottom when she applies to work at a strip club. During the sleazy interview, the club owner asks for her medical expertise when one of his associates is severely injured for an astronomical amount of money in cash. Of...
Published 23 months ago by titania86

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars WHO WANTS TO WATCH NOTHING SHOCKING
Mary is a med student studying to be a surgeon. She is ready for her internship and has financial problems. She answers an ad and as one thing leads to another, she becomes an underground unlicensed surgeon for people who desire odd body modifications. There is the added horror of murder and torture.

It is nice to see something new in horror. Katharine Isabelle...
Published 17 months ago by The Movie Guy


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28 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Innovative and fresh horror, 11 Jan 2013
Mary Mason is an ambitious and focused medical student who is down her luck. Growing increasingly more broke, she desperately needs money and hits rock bottom when she applies to work at a strip club. During the sleazy interview, the club owner asks for her medical expertise when one of his associates is severely injured for an astronomical amount of money in cash. Of course, she performs the illegal surgery and feels sickened, but happy for the money. Later on, Beatress Johnson, a performer from the strip club who looks just like Betty Boop, approaches Mary for a business proposition involving extreme body modification. She refuses at first to focus on her studies, but after being traumatized and alienated by the teacher she truly admired and the medical field as a whole, she assents and throws herself full force into the dark and sometimes bizarre world of illegal body modification.

I have been itching to see American Mary since Jen and Sylvia Soska's panel from last year's San Diego Comic Con. I finally got the chance when the film was featured at LA's Screamfest and subsequently won most of the awards there, including best picture, best director, best actress, best makeup, and best cinematography The plot and execution of this film is more unique than the majority of the horror films I've seen over the last year. It's truly a breath of fresh air among all the remakes and sequels with twists, turns, and shocking moments. It subverts expectations at every turn and avoids the typical formulaic horror for an unpredictable plot that kept me guessing what would happen. For a movie about surgery, the use of blood and gore is quite restrained and the entire film is beautifully shot. I expected buckets upon buckets of blood, especially after Dead Hooker in a Trunk. The cinematography is polished, gorgeous, and completely different from their previous film. The scenes of surgery are especially ethereal looking, enhanced by the use of Gounod's Ave Maria as background music.

The body modification community could have easily come off as freaks or monsters, but the Soska twins merely present them as normal people with tastes for socially unacceptable appearances. They also worked with people from the Church of Body Modification as consultants and actors to authentically portray their community. Since many of these people's reasons to get this type of surgery is just as if not more valid than those getting conventional plastic surgery, it begs the question why many of the procedures are illegal. This community in the film comes off as more welcoming and nice than the "normal" people. The members of the medical community are supposed to be the best and brightest our society has to offer, but are portrayed as manipulative adrenaline junkies that don't think twice about taking advantage of their students. This reversal of expectations provides a new perspective not typically seen in any genre.

The characters also aren't what one would expect. Mary Mason is a focused, driven woman, but she doesn't have many redeeming qualities. Her main motivations are selfish and greedy (except for her drive for revenge) and her demeanor is largely aloof, detached, and fake. The only real difference in her behavior after the abuse is that an undercurrent of rage runs underneath her coldness. She also goes a bit crazy after embracing her lucrative and illegal career. Despite her flaws, she remains a sympathetic character throughout the film due to the writing and Katharine Isabelle's performance. She's a complex character, being the final girl and the killer at the same time. The rare glimpses of vulnerability and true emotion in Mary are priceless and brought about by the rough looking but genuinely kind hearted bouncer that works at the strip club. Billy is the sleazy strip club owner who regularly victimizes his employees. You wouldn't really expect him to have any redeeming qualities, but he is quite sweet to Mary and really cares about her. Their relationship gives an awkwardly romantic element to the film that adds a sweetness to a very dark film. These characters are far from perfect, but their glimpses of lightness and true emotion is beautiful in the backdrop of crime, jadedness, and violence.

The only problem I have with the film is the pacing. It seems to lose a little steam near the end, but picks up after a shocking turn of events. Everything else is wonderful. Todd Masters' makeup and prosthetics and the avoidance of CGI work in their favor because it looked real and I believe will look better as time goes by. The performances are singular and coupled with the writing are the real stars of American Mary. The characters are the most realistic I have seen on screen, especially in a genre usually rife with stock characters, and I love them, flaws and all. Jen and Sylvia Soska are not only kickass writers and directors, but genuinely nice people who take the time to reach out to their fans. I will watch anything they create from this point on because I know it will be different than anything I've seen and of the highest quality.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars WHO WANTS TO WATCH NOTHING SHOCKING, 14 July 2013
By 
The Movie Guy "Movies from A to Z" (United States) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: American Mary [DVD] [2012] (DVD)
Mary is a med student studying to be a surgeon. She is ready for her internship and has financial problems. She answers an ad and as one thing leads to another, she becomes an underground unlicensed surgeon for people who desire odd body modifications. There is the added horror of murder and torture.

It is nice to see something new in horror. Katharine Isabelle as Mary was great, but I never connected to any of the characters, who were fairly cardboard. Indeed, I did not find myself rooting for Mary as the film is not engaging. The picture could have been done better which seemed to have ached for a Jane's Addiction soundtrack.

Worth a rental, not a keeper.

Parental Guide: F-bomb, sex, nudity, off screen rape.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Really great film!, 20 Jan 2013
I'll readily admit that i'm not a big fan of gore and horror, but the subject matter of American Mary intruigied me. After watching a trailer, reading a few reviews and friend wanting to see it with someone, I bit the bullet and watched it. Boy am I glad i did! It surpassed my expectations and even though there is a lot of blood, it didn't take away from my enjoyment of the film.

If you're looking for something a bit different that you can really sink your teeth into, all the while feeling a bit uneasy throughout, then this is definitely worth checking out.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Highly Effective Horror Story, 5 Nov 2014
By 
William Mason (England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This is a sublime and deliciously disturbing horror flick.
Mary Mason is a gifted medical student looking to become a surgeon. She's a very shapely beauty with brains - she looks a bit like the singer Katie Perry. Mary's struggling financially and, out of desperation, she applies for a job at a strip-club called Bourbon Go Go.
At her job interview where she strips down to her undies, she's offered $5000 to perform a life-saving operation on a man who the club owners are torturing. She doesn't hesitate to do the job. Before long, Mary finds herself drawn into the highly lucrative world of backstreet plastic surgery, where everything's done cash in hand, no medical records are kept, and operations are performed which the rules of professional ethics would never allow. Purely as one example, a young blonde wants to look exactly like a Barbie Doll, which means having her nipples removed and her pudenda sealed permanently. Things get worse from that point onwards, much worse.
Nothing is off limits for Mary when it comes to "curing" patients with body dysmorphia - teeth sharpening, tongue splitting, amputation, and even Dr Frankenstein style body part swapping...
The scenes of the operative procedures are fairly gruesome, certainly worse than one would see in an episode of the excellent TV series about plastic surgeons, Nip Tuck - Nip/Tuck: Complete Series [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] . A lot is also left to the imagination, and it works very effectively. The movie is inventive, disturbing, nicely paced, and highly thought-provoking. It's also very stylishly shot and sharply edited.
The film is in part a modern take on, and grim re-invention of, the life of a backstreet abortionist (see, for example, Michael Caine's Alfie, where an unlicensed doctor carries out an abortion on one of the titular character's girlfriends - Alfie Box Set (1965 & 2004) [DVD] , or Vera Drake, about a working class London woman in the 1950's who carries out illegal abortions - Vera Drake [DVD] ).
I think that the actress who plays Mary, Katherine Isabelle, is highly likely to find herself one of the next big scream-queens.
If you enjoy this movie like I did, I can also highly recommend the excellent German horror, Anatomy - Anatomy [DVD] [2001], and the utterly chilling Japanese horror, Audition - Audition (Collector's Edition) [DVD] [2001] - definitely NOT a movie for the faint-hearted! A lot of American Mary, in my view, pays homage to the Japanese style of horror seen in movies like Audition.
You might also be interested in The Dentist, starring Corbin Bernsen (of L.A. Law fame) - The Dentist [DVD] . Alternatively, a campy, spoofy, and frankly, bonkers version of the Frankenstein tale is Frankenhooker - Frankenhooker[Blu-ray] .
Thank you for taking the time to read this review.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A superb film, 29 Dec 2013
By 
Miss M. R. Hume (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: American Mary [DVD] [2012] (DVD)
This film has restored some faith for me in the dwindling quality of the horror market. Visually a very stunning film for me, slick and exciting. It has the knack of making you want to look away whilst having to keep your eyes locked on the action, and as a fair amount of the gore is implied it leaves a lot up to you and your imagination - for me often scarier than having it laid out for all to see. Definitely a favourite for me and I would safely say for most horror buffs out there looking for something new and refreshing.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars American Mary A+++, 5 Mar 2013
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expected a horror movie when bought this and got so much more. the plot is great, the acting wonderful. not all B movies are like this. good job soska sisters!
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars She'll help you get the look you always dreamed of., 26 Nov 2012
Hitting the same tongue-in-cheek marks as Teeth, Bad Biology and Frankenhooker, albeit with a better class of performer and a slicker look than these slightly kitsch body-horror movies, American Mary is a pro-feminist splatter-gore movie for lovers of the Frankenstein myth, with an extra dose of John Waters-style black humour running through it.

Fans of extreme body modification, piercing and tattooing will love this... It's made with a passion for the subject even if the results are horrific. The is a movie that delves into the world where the participants take altering themselves into another realm. Doll-like human barbies who want their nipples removed to give them perfect plastic looking breasts, obsessive Betty Boop fans who'll do anything to get the look they desire. Not to mention a twisted doctor who wronged the central character and ends up being a test subject for Mary's darkest experiments.

Highly recommended.

American Mary [Blu-ray]
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Promising, but could have been better., 1 Mar 2013
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C. Searle "scorpion1" (Newbury, Berkshire) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: American Mary [DVD] [2012] (DVD)
A film that is quite promising but does not really deliver on any level. It appears to have a bit of an identity crisis and although clearly a horror I think that it feels more like something that David Lynch or David Cronenberg would come up with if they couldn't really be bothered.

Some of it is great: Mary is a good character and well acted. I would like to have had a bit more development though. I loved the character of Beatress and would have like to have seen more of her, she was rather 'Lynchian' and interesting. The overall look and feel of the film was good and I really wanted it to be a more intellectually challenging and better developed.

I thought the worst thing about this was the policeman. I am not sure he adds anything to the plot and the acting was wooden or just odd. On the plus side I like the pacing of the film very much. I will certainly look out for the Soska sister's future films as one day I think they may come up with a classic. Unfortunately this isn't it.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pleasantly surprised!, 21 Jan 2013
I went to see this film with some friends of mine who are proper horror buffs and I was initially a little reluctant as it didn't look like my cup of tea. But yeah as I said, I was really surprised how engrossing it actually was! My friends loved this obviously but I thought it was fantastic too. It plays out much more like a serious drama as opposed to a gore-fest which was refreshing. In fact, some of my female friends spoke about aspects of the film that I completely overlooked - the more feminist parts that looking back on make perfect sense now.

This is genuinely much more than a standard horror affair and I can't wait to see what the directors do next.

Highly recommended!!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I liked this. The main character is well acted, 6 Nov 2014
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I liked this. The main character is well acted. Interesting plot. Quite a dark film. Not excessive on the blood and gore, but lets you imagine what is going on. Nicely shot. Quite an original idea. Involving all the way through. The only weakness was the ending, which fell short of the inventiveness of the rest of the film and felt as though it had been rushed without the thought or creativity that had gone into the film up to that point.
Nevertheless, much more interesting than most of the supposed horrors around. Definite recommendation.
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American Mary [DVD] [2012]
American Mary [DVD] [2012] by Sylvia Soska (DVD - 2013)
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