Friday, October 4, 2013

Film Review: American Mary (2012)

American Mary (Review)
Canada/2012
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No
A 31 Days of Halloween Special Review!*

"The story is filled with illogicalities and inconsistencies..."

Mary Mason (Katharine Isabelle) is a promising student in medical school and an aspiring surgeon. As her debt begins to pile up, Mary applies for a job at a gentlemen's club. However, she's paid $5000 to save a man who has been tortured, and, therefore, her newfound career begins...

American Mary continues to follow Mary as she delves deeper and deeper into the body modification underworld. Reluctant at first, the current status of her life and the promising financial future convinces her otherwise. And so, Mary conducts several body modifications, and occasionally uses her skills to hurt those that deserve it. American Mary concludes in a somewhat predictable, forced manner; it's a plot contrivance that damages the story further, as there are many plot contrivances to be found.

American Mary has an interesting concept, albeit done before in one iteration or another. The execution, however, is flawed. The story is filled with illogicalities and inconsistencies; many of the characters' stupid action are there simply to move the story forward -- and this becomes more and more evident as the story progresses. The ideas it presents are never fully developed, although it attempts to return to them occasionally. For example, introduce an investigator, but never delve into an investigation or develop the character -- unfortunately, the scenes with the investigator are useless filler as they have no significance to the plot whatsoever. The ending itself features a plot contrivance that makes very, very little sense, it's a forced idea used to capture a desired ending. Really, the entire third act was dull and filled with clich├ęs.

American Mary is advertised as a horror film. There are some disturbing visuals of graphic violence, but you usually witness the aftermath, and only briefly. The incisions may be cringe-worthy for some viewers, but there aren't many, anyway. Like many "horror" films, American Mary loses it identity towards the end and becomes a typical slasher... but without the tension or suspense you could expect in a good slasher. This isn't my type of horror as I wasn't terrified during this film -- this is basically torture horror with most of the actual torture removed. Aside from the violence, you also have to spend time with an unlikable protagonist; the pretentious, try-hard Mary is very boring and predictable to spend time with. The film's loss of momentum about halfway through also doesn't help the overall experience -- it really starts to drag during the third act.

Katharine Isabelle plays the lead. Her performance is okay, but she doesn't have much to work with; she plays a super generic character, but doesn't have the charisma to play such an anti-hero -- she simply wasn't good enough to play "the one you love to hate". This make the film tedious and annoying since you can't root for or even like the lead. This is more a case of generic writing and miscasting than poor acting, though. The special effects are great, the makeup is realistic, which makes the film a bit more tolerable. The use of classical music during some scenes was also very effective. Jen Soska and Sylvia Soska, or the Soska Sisters, have solid direction, but misguided, sloppy writing.

Overall, American Mary is a weak horror film -- a very interesting and initially entertaining story that loses steam and becomes tedious thanks to lack of significant events and an annoying anti-hero, partly due to writing and an uncharismatic lead. On top of that, this simply wasn't a horror film to me, I wasn't scared at all, despite loving the special effects.

Score: 4/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and gore, excessive nudity and sex.

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