Fantastic Fest 2012: ‘American Mary’, steeped in pulp and hardcore imagery and fetishistic gore
Directed by Jen and Sylvia Soska
Written by Jen and Sylvia Soska
Steeped in pulp and hardcore imagery, horror allusions, and fetishistic gore, American Mary is a film that has emphatic reverence for its form. And as a collection of horror set pieces and bizarre characters, it is a success. Unfortunately, it’s not so successful as a cohesive and meaningful film.
Mary Mason (Katharine Isabelle) is a young med student enrolled in a surgery residency. She’s fantastic at what she does, but in great financial and academic distress. When putting in a resume at the local strip-joint, she’s recruited to stitch up a gunshot victim in the backroom. She’s rewarded handsomely, and almost immediately contacted for some unusual surgical services. And thus she enters the seedy world of body modification. Katharine Isabelle is best-known in the horror community as the titular character of Ginger Snaps. She’s rightly beloved for that role, and here she performs marvelously. Her Mary Mason can be mercilessly sexy and cool, but Isabelle finds the intelligent, morally confounded girl within, and her performance deserves to be featured in a far better picture.