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Review: ‘American Mary’ Shows Great Respect to the Body Modification Community

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Review: 'American Mary' Shows Great Respect to the Body Modification Community

What happens when Canadian twins get fed up with relying on the film industry? We get a body horror social commentary called American Mary. Released in 2012, American Mary is the second debut film by the Soska sisters. While Dead Hooker in a Trunk was their first official debut, American Mary is what has solidified their career in horror going forward.

American Mary follows a financially struggling medical student. We see that Mary, like most college students, is having a difficult time keeping her bills paid and keeping a steady job to do so. We also learn that she faces heavy criticism in school from her higher ups. Mary answers an ad online for a job at a strip club. While at her interview, there is a medical emergency with one of the thugs and Mary is offered a large sum of money to perform a back room surgery, which she reluctantly accepts. The next day, she is contacted by one of the strippers who requests that Mary perform surgery on her friend Ruby. Ruby wants to resemble a doll and requests to have her nipples and most of her labia removed. Mary, still hurting for money, agrees. Meanwhile, Mary is invited by a surgeon in her residency program to what she believes is a networking party. However, this is no party for Mary. She is drugged and raped by her former teacher, Dr. Grant. This is a turning point for Mary. She drops out of medical career and pursues a career in doing underground body modifications while keeping Dr. Grant as her personal experiment.

Body horror is typically it’s own category of disturbing. Even more of a disturbing concept is the interesting world of body modifications. While some of the procedures that we see Mary perform are becoming increasingly popular, there are still ones that are grossly unacceptable. Amputations without medical reasoning is looked down upon, but is still desired. Removing parts of genitalia is another one of those that you would have to find someone who specializes in the art and that’s no easy task. Splitting tongue is one thing. Splitting your penis is an entirely different thing. And if that last sentence made you cringe and you like those spine tingling feelings, you’ll enjoy American Mary.

American Mary Katharine Isabelle Movie Still

However, we don’t see a lot in this movie. One thing that I love is that every special effect is practical. You won’t find any CGI here. The downside to that is we miss out on a lot of up close scenes of mangle and most things are simply implied. But do we really need to see all off it? Or is the idea enough to get your rock off? I suppose that comes down to personal opinion.

The Soska sisters have really made a name for themselves. After finding it difficult to sell Dead Hooker in a Trunk and to find roles for women in the horror industry, the sisters decided to just make their own movies. I have to say, we have not been disappointed by this. American Mary is a direct reflection of the struggles the sisters experienced in the industry of their choice. The sisters are Mary and horror is Mary’s medical career. Even the ending of the film is a beautifully wrapped package showcasing how when you take complete control of your craft, there will still be someone out there unhappy with your work.

American Mary is one of those films that you may have overlooked, but deserves a pause. It’s worth the watch especially when you keep the social commentary in mind. It shows great respect to the body modification community and doesn’t put it in a bad light like other films with similar themes. Most importantly, we have a lot to look forward to from these sisters and they aren’t letting up any time soon.

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