Mary (Katharine Isabelle – Ginger Snaps) is a struggling med-student who needs to make some extra money. On applying for a waitressing job at a local strip joint, Mary finds herself inadvertently using her surgical skills to help the owner patch up a badly beaten friend. From thereon in, Mary’s reputation grows and with it the offer of cold hard cash to perform extreme, off-the-books medical procedures. Soon Mary is running a very lucrative side bar in body modification.
The Soska Sister’s Twisted Twins Production (which incidentally has one of the coolest movie idents out there) has fast become the go-to house for modern horror. After their début exploitation feature Dead Hooker In A Trunk was a big crowd pleaser their second major effort has been eagerly anticipated. American Mary doesn’t disappoint thanks to a simple but effective storyline, some decent black comedy and a shining leading lady in Katharine Isabelle.
Given the subject matter you’d be forgiven for thinking that American Mary could end up as exploitative but nothing could be further from the truth. This could have easily gone down the route of torture porn and been just another video nasty. Instead The Soska Sister’s have produced a startlingly acute and savvy script full of brutal intensity, disturbing darkness and hilarious circumstance.
Katharine Isabelle is a genre favourite after the severely underrated Ginger Snaps first burst onto the scene in 2000. Isabelle is nothing short of excellent in American Mary and gives us an anti-heroine we can all champion. She peppers her performance with a dark side that could ultimately drag her down and to see her slow descent is both captivating and disturbing. She also handles the comedy with a deft touch – showcasing Isabelle as a severely underrated talent.
The supporting cast are all excellent with Antonio Cupo the pick of the bunch as Billy, the local nightclub owner and would-be love interest for Mary. He shares a wonderful chemistry with Katharine Isabelle that is always underplayed and subtle. Other highs include Tristan Risk as a scary but sweet Betty Boop wannabe and Paula Lindberg who longs to be as smooth as a doll.
American Mary proves that great cult horror is alive and well. In the Soska Sisters American Mary gives horror a new and entertaining classic that doesn’t sensationalise for the sake of it. With a distinctly wicked flavour mixed in with some brilliant, stand out horror that never feels gratuitous, this is a great movie that deserves a big audience.