American Mary is a film that I don’t think really deserves to be stuffed in the horror genre. There are horror elements, of course, like extreme body modification and a climactic murder, but this film is largely character driven. If not for how desperate the director was to sexualize Mary to hell and back, I’d consider American Mary to be nearly flawless. I’ll get more into that later, but for now, the plot.
Mary is training to become a surgeon under a hardass yet encouraging teacher, and funds are tight. For lack of any better ideas, she decides to take up working in a strip club to make ends meet. The owner, having looked over her resume, offers her $5,000 in cash to perform surgery on one of his lackeys who was savagely beaten. Unable to turn down that kind of money, Mary stitches him up and sets the wheels in motion.
Soon after, she begins to receive calls from a plastic surgery addict named Beatress Johnson who is apparently looking for some unorthodox surgery for a friend. Mary turns her down initially, but she caves once the Betty Boop lookin’ gal starts offering big bucks, as that’s basically her weak point. Hey, if you can do what you’re good at and make a shitload of cash off of it, why not, right? The surgery scene is tame compared to what you’d normally expect in slasher movies, though you might have sympathy pains during the nipple removal bit. Oop, did I say that out loud? Spoiler! Ooh hoo hoo.
After finding her footing financially, one of her teachers invites her to a surgeon party, which she decides to attend. Donning a tacky and skimpy dress, she finds herself drugged and raped by her old teacher. Who would have thought, huh? Apparently he thought she had become a prostitute to make money, which… explains why he rapes her? I don’t follow that logic at all, but it sets up a revenge scene that is pretty satisfying.
Mary practices every extreme body modification she can on her rapist teacher after paying the strip club’s owner to have him “acquired” and beaten. After that, the remainder of the film focuses on her body modification, and some of its dire consequences. Er, not the consequences of having body modification, but of doing them. The conclusion of American Mary could not have been better. If you end up liking the movie, I guarantee the ending will score high. No hints aside from what I’ve already said.
As for the sexualization that I mentioned earlier, I feel as though it’s unnecessary and distracts from the story. The movie is too serious to be campy, so the sexy outfits during surgery and constant boobs and butts everywhere seem out of place. I suppose mixing sex and surgery can be considered avant-garde, but the way it’s done in this film makes it seem tacky. Like they believed they wouldn’t be able to sell Mary’s story without throwing in some blatant titillation, you know? It’s a damn shame, because Mary is a likeable character. You don’t need to see her ass to figure that out. If you do, then you’re a confusing person and you’ll probably glean a lot more from the film than I did.
Matt Glasby of TotalFilm found the rape revenge to be empowering. While I do enjoy a bit of justified retaliatory torture, it tends to draw focus from the fact that Mary’s shitsack teacher probably shouldn’t have played the rape game in the first place. It’s good that he got his dick chopped off. Right, well, here’s the alt review: http://www.totalfilm.com/reviews/cinema/american-mary