What I'm Watching: American Mary
American Mary is the story of a medical student, played by one of my all-time favourite underrated Canadian actresses, Katharine Isabelle. Last seen gracing these reviews via 13 Eerie. I won't ramble on about her any more than I have to for the sake of this review.
Mary's a typical student in debt, trying to stay above water while also trying to keep her grades up, and not doing a great job of it. At the end of her rope, she goes to try and get a job as a dancer at a club, and while there, a friend of the club owner comes in with some major injuries and an unwillingness to go to the hospital. So, Mary's medical prowess is called upon, and she does her best to save the guy.
Word spreads of her skills to the most unlikely of places, people in the body modification community. She does a few surgeries for a woman, which only solidifies her reputation. After a most horrific event with her teachers and colleagues, Mary drops out of school and devotes her life full time to the body mod circuit.
Things go from bad to worse as she gets revenge on her attackers, all on the backdrop of fulfilling every clients whim to make them look the exact way they want.
Boy, I watch some weird movies with some weird kinks in them, huh?
This movie never quite goes the full-on Human Centipede route, and it treats the body modders with, I think, a fair amount of respect, treating them as people just trying to find themselves, and not as freaks.
The story is pretty damned unique, does not go where you might think it goes sometimes, and is not afraid to get VERY dark at times, with a little bit of black comedy to make you feel all the more uncomfortable.
Mary is played superbly by Isabelle, which is no surprise to me. She nails the life of this student who has everything taken from her, and yet still finds a way to survive. Survival really is the word for her character, as most of the darkness surrounds her, and when she is attacked midway through the movie, Katharine does a great job of switching gears from the almost submissive, meek Mary to a more serious, colder, distant person. I've seen some reviews comment on how they didn't understand the switch in personality, and feel it was too sudden, but uh...after what she went through, it's not surprising she would become withdrawn and go to some pretty dark places.
This movie is NOT for everyone, especially if you're a little squeamish. Like I said though, it doesn't go all the way like Centipede, but there is still some scenes of intense surgery. But that's not what the movie is about, and more a backdrop to Mary's life, and to inject some thrills and chills into the movie.
I really enjoyed it though, so if you're in the mood for a dark, sexy, revenge thriller that looks into a lesser-seen corner of society, this movie should hit the spot.