The second film for the opening night of Toronto After Dark 2012 was the hilarious and seriously bloody, American Mary.
Mary Mason (Katharine Isabelle) is a medical student preparing to be a surgeon. Her professor is too hard on her and she’s struggling to keep her bills paid. A random encounter with a strip bar owner quickly turns into a lucrative business opportunity for Mary. When she’s sexually assaulted by her professor, Mary quits med school and enters the world of body modification. Now she’ll use her talents to make more money than she can imagine and get revenge on her professor.
Jen and Sylvia Soska’s first feature film, Dead Hooker In A Trunk, was a great flick, but an obvious low budget indie film. American Mary has the same heart, but the incredible look of a big budget picture. Hilarious, incredibly bloody, squirm inducing and disturbing, American Mary is an amazing horror film. It twists and turns, constantly surprising the viewer and leaving the audience wondering what will happen next. If there’s any complaint with the film, it’s that there is possibly too much going on. We begin with Mary as a med student, throw in a one sided love story, add a dash of underground body modification surgery, and finish it off with a rape/revenge story. It all works together, but it can become overwhelming.
With all these little plot points going on, you really want to start dissecting everything. The problem there is that it seems like it’s about so much. The film feels like it’s really trying to say something, but it’s hard to decide what that is. That’s not because it’s confusing, but because it does everything so well and looks beautiful doing it. Trying to decipher what it’s saying may be a pointless journey, although it stands up for repeat viewings, allowing each person to decide what the film may be saying. Regardless of what may be going on below the surface, the film is incredibly entertaining, and it’s full of gross out moments that come very close to crossing the line without ever actually doing it.
Dead Hooker In A Trunk showed the Soska Sisters had talent, but American Mary goes beyond anything you may expect. It looks gorgeous, even in moments of uncomfortable gore. There’s a great natural humour to it, and the special effects are astounding. Katharine Isabelle is perfect in the role of Mary Mason, slowly becoming everything she was trying to avoid. Her reactions to the outrageous situations she finds herself in are about as realistic as they can be, and she provides both the light and dark moments in the film. There’s very little to dislike about this one, although it’s obvious that many people will be quickly turned off by the subject matter. Since the film was just picked up by Anchor Bay, it won’t be long before we’ll all be able to enjoy this amazing film at home.
Under the marquee – Will