Today: April 20, 2024

American Mary

While horror movies over the years have featured more

While horror
movies over the years have featured more than their share of witless bimbos and
victimised females, horror is still one of the few genres where women are
allowed to be strong and independent.
Films like Lucky McKee’s The Woman
and May, Mitchell Lichtenstein’s Teeth
or more recently Richard Bates Jr.’s
wonderful Excision are all smart,
politically aware genre-buckers featuring tough, ballsy, no-nonsense woman who
are victimised but ultimately rebel against and triumph over patriarchal
society.

But all those films were made by men…

So thank God for the Twisted
Twins
, Canadian writer/director team Jen
& Sylvia Soska
, who’ve followed up the sleazy, no-budget, exploitation
delight that was their first film Dead
Hooker In A Trunk
with the bold, beautiful American Mary.

Brilliant young medical student Mary (the fantastic Katharine Isabelle) has the potential
to be a gifted surgeon but is having difficulty making ends meet, her financial
woes forcing her to audition for a part-time job at the sleazy strip joint run
by small-time gangster Billy (Antonio
Cupo
). However, when she’s
forced to tend to a tortured crook’s injuries, she stumbles upon a far more
lucrative sideline thanks to stripper Beatress (Tristan Risk); servicing the needs of the underground
body-modification enthusiasts and surgical addicts who frequent the club. Surgically enhanced Betty
Boop-lookalike Beatress introduces Mary to some friends of hers with some
rather extreme cosmetic surgery demands that no conventional surgeon will
touch, friends like Ruby Realgirl (Paula
Lindberg
) who’s obsessed with becoming a real-life (anatomically correct)
Barbie doll and ‘the Demon Twins of Berlin’ (played by the Soska Sisters themselves), and pretty soon Mary is the go-to-gal
for the underworld’s surgical fetishists.
But when one of her professors subjects her to a vicious sex attack,
it’s time for ‘Bloody Mary’ to show him just how much she’s learned…

Unsettling, erotic and darkly funny, American Mary is a perverse mix of body horror and psychological
thriller that despite its visceral material is refreshingly restrained. Beautifully shot and edited, the script
may lose its way in the last act but it’s a stylish quantum leap in quality
from the Twins first film, the glorious but ramshackle Dead Hooker In A Trunk, with a strong female protagonist in the
shape of the delightful Katharine
Isabelle
. Best remembered for
her role as the teen werewolf battling lycanthropy and menstruation in Ginger Snaps, Isabelle is phenomenally
good as the titular Mary; a smart, resourceful, melancholic anti-heroine
emancipated by her trip to the dark side and she’s ably supported by burlesque
performer Tristan Risk as Betty Boop
fetishist Beatress, Twan Holliday as
burly bodyguard Lance and Cupo as sleazeball hopeless romantic Billy.

Sexy, dark and delicious, American Mary is, thank God, exactly the film you’d hope a couple
of bonkers Canadian Goth chicks would make; a smart, sensitive slice of
feminist horror that’s as sharp as its heroine’s scalpels.

David Watson

David Watson is a screenwriter, journalist and 'manny' who, depending on time of day and alcohol intake could be described as a likeable misanthrope or a carnaptious bampot. He loves about 96% of you but there's at least 4% he'd definitely eat in the event of a plane crash. Email: david.watson@filmjuice.com

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