Wednesday, October 02, 2013

American Mary

(2012) *** 1/2
Girl Power!
Medical student Mary Mason (portrayed by Katharine Isabelle from Ginger Snaps) is the exemplary surgeon-in-training, with one minor obstacle: bills and loans. In conjunction with the stress of going to classes and the constant harassment she receives from her professor Dr. Grant, she looks toward the internet for a quick money fix: strippin! 

Mary arranges to audition at a local strip club -- even comes prepared with a resume -- and subsequently her "interview" is cut short when the owner Billy needs her novice surgeon skills to save a friend after being tortured by a rival gang/mafia/opposing strip club (Billy doesn't offer details and Mary doesn't ask for them). She walks off with $5,000 and wicked street cred.

Some time later our leading lady is tracked down by a woman who has devoted her life to looking like Betty Boop. She's got a girl friend with similar "dollification" desires and recruits Mary to modify her body to her vision of personal completion, the justification being that she wants to look beautiful, like a Barbie doll, but not in a sexual way. It was an interesting addition to the image-conscious state of mind many find themselves involved in every day: I want to look cute, or handsome, or disgusting, and I don't want to be objectified as a freak because I never felt more comfortable with the way I look. In American Mary this translates into a series of body modifications done to men and women to help them feel complete and comfortable in their own skin, even if that wasn't the skin they were born in, and this was the main appeal for me.

Ooooohhh! Flesh hangings!
Before long the cash is flowing in and Mary has cut and sutured her way out of debt, and well into her residency at a hospital near home. In something that can barely be noted as a subplot, Mary communicates regularly with her Nana in Budapest over the phone. While it would lengthen the film with still more details, it would certainly shed some more light on the character of Mary. Does she come from a family of immigrants? Where is the rest of her family? Is she the black sheep of the family? Are there any other doctors or surgeons? What do they think about her living alone and working in such a male-dominated field of expertise?

There comes a point where the movie seems to go on cruise-control until the denouement. American Mary was a good kickoff for Horrorthon for me because the title character was a strong person and the huge focus on the body modification subculture.


Landshark said...

Nice, I just scrolled past this one either Netflix or cable On Demand and was planning to check it out as well.

Catfreeek said...

Great find, sounds like a pretty unique and interesting flick. Maybe the sequel will be called Modifying Nana.

JPX said...

Damn you, I had this as my next movie to watch! Terrific review, it sounds like a winner. I think you should dress in that outfit in the poster.

DCD said...

This sounds totally cool! Great find, Crystal.

Johnny Sweatpants said...

I like horror movies that explore sexuality and gender roles… except when genital mutilation is involved. Remember that movie Antichrist? *shudder*

Good review Crystal! You’re off to a better start than me!

Octopunk said...

Verrrrry interesting!

The only body mod film I can think of is that ridiculous Strangeland movie with Dee Snyder. It's very talky and it's all about piercing, which seems quite dated now that there are piercing kiosks in malls.

Crystal Math said...

I'll have to review Antichrist this year. I haven't seen it. I would warn you not to spoil it for me, but I already read about it on teh Wiki.

This whole bod-mod fascination began when I bought the documentary Modify. Before then I thought tats were the extent of it, but no.

50PageMcGee said...

octo, this doesn't count as body-mod?

AC said...

eep, don't know if I can watch this one! too squeamish.