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WiHM: American Mary (2012)


The allure of easy money sends Mary Mason, a medical student, into the world of underground surgeries which ends up leaving more marks on her than her so called "freakish" clients.


Mary is medical student suffering from a lack of funds. When she applies to work as a stripper, owner, Billy, offers her money to stitch up a colleague who is bleeding out in the basement. This opens the door to Mary to work outside of the law, and after stripper Beatress offers her a substantial sum of cash to perform illegal body modification surgery on her - Mary makes her mark on the scene. When things on the other side of her life skew to the side, Mary's life twists into a cavalcade of revenge and horror.

It would be unfair for me to call this a body modification horror - while there are scenes of that (some extreme) the film is actual a social horror. Like most of David Cronenburg's work, American Mary is tale with a message. And a stinging one.

Written and directed by Jen Soska and Sylvia Soska (Dead Hooker in a Trunk), lightness of touch is given to what - in other people's hands - could have turned the movie to focus on the body modification collective. The film is not about that, it is about the things that Mary endures, and the lengths that she goes to, just to survive. She is the protagonist of the film, but also very much a victim. A victim of circumstance. A victim of misogyny. She is abused throughout. That is the real horror here, and the Soska Sisters do a wonderful job of portraying that. It may have scenes that some may find disturbing - but that is not the horror.

Taking the lead is Katharine Isabelle (Bad Times at the El Royale) who does an outstanding job of running with the character. She has a doe eyed innocence in the beginning - eventually become cold and unforgiving as the event of her life turn on her time and time again. It also boasts an excellent supporting cast from Tristan Risk (Ayla), Paula Lindberg (The Fiddling Horse), and Antonio Cupo (Body of Deceit) - all of whom are stellar.

It's a hard watch - not from the occasional squirm inducing gore but from the situations that Mary ends up in. I highly recommend it to any horror fan who likes a serving of social commentary mixed with their gore. This is one film that delivers both satisfyingly.


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