Throughout my life I have only met three people who have seen American Mary, which is devastating to me. But these three people have had the same reaction when I’ve asked them which is that they absolutely love the movie and think it deserves more recognition. This film is far too unorthodox to ever reach mainstream cinema, and its dark undertones may scare people away from giving it a fair chance. But there is so much hidden beauty in American Mary that longs to be discovered.
I don’t want to go too in depth into the plot of the movie, my goal is to simply entice you into watching it for yourself. So I will give you my summary, or my pitch, if you will:
American Mary follows the story of a broke medical school student Mary Mason as she tries desperately to find money. In what would be considered a very low point, Mary interviews to become a stripper at a club, however when the manager is faced with the problem of a seriously wounded colleague, he turns to Mary and her medical knowledge to operate in exchange for some fast ‘under the table’ cash.
Having spotted Mary at the club, a woman named Beatress who has an uncanny (and unnatural) resemblance to Betty Boop tracks Mary down and hires her for her friend Ruby Realgirl to perform an intense body modification surgery, one that’s unavailable by regular cosmetic surgeons.
After a tragic, life-altering experience at a party with her medical professor and residency supervisor, Mary is forced to drop out of medical school and pursues the underground world of extreme body modification. She uses her newly found contacts to seek business and gains an online persona under the name ‘Bloody Mary’.
The movie portrays extreme procedures such as tongue splitting, genital modification and ‘voluntary amputation’ rather elegantly using classical background music. In the beginning, we hear Mary state that nobody would want to watch something without shock value, and this film certainly satisfies that craving but does so with class.
The creators of American Mary are the incredibly talented Soska Sisters, Jen and Sylvia Soska. Also known as the Twisted Twins, and rightfully so. American Mary was the sisters’ second film after an incredibly low budget student project Dead Hooker in a Trunk and just like in their first, the sisters make an appearance themselves in the movie. They bring to life the roles of two ‘Demon Twins’ who are famous for their body modification work online, they seek out Mary to perform a surgery that will bond them forever, and even into the afterlife. They wish for Mary to swap their left arms with each other so that they always feel close to the other, to say the twins are very close would be an understatement. I sense that they have this connection in reality too.
The authenticity involved in American Mary is something that makes it incredibly appealing to me and adds to its effect. In an interview with Red Carpet News TV the sisters talk about how they discovered the body modification community online and have a genuine fascination with the people and wanted to represent them in a way that they won’t be misunderstood like they so often are. It is refreshing to see film creators who thoroughly enjoy the topic they are working with and actually take the time to learn from real people before they attempt to portray them in a film. You can definitely get a real sense of the community throughout the movie, and the involvement of the online community in American Mary is an accurate representation of how people discover the community in the real world, it is more often than not online and that’s because it isn’t so widely broadcast to the outside world it’s still a relatively original idea that you have to seek out.
That mirrors this movie in a sense, too. American Mary is a movie that is so unique and so far from mainstream that you need to seek it out and really want to discover something this different. It is magical when you discover a movie like this because you know that it’s lack of popularity means it hasn’t been under appreciated, it simply hasn’t been discovered. In writing this I hope to send you down the rabbit hole of the Soska Sisters and experience American Mary and hopefully love it for what it is.
An extraordinary fact about American Mary is that Jen and Sylvia cast real people from the body mod community in the movie to give a genuinely accurate account, rather than taking a far-fetched approach that could have been considered as mockery. Russ Foxx is an incredible body mod artist who appears as Mary’s client, if you get the opportunity to check out some of his work you will be both shocked and amazed at what he has accomplished, and it’s amazing to see that his body mods are those that are featured and used throughout the movie.
American Mary is a movie that’s originality and credibility go beyond many other horrors. It manages to portray blood and gore in almost an elegant fashion, and its quality is delivered from the realness that is consistent throughout. I highly recommend you watch it.
Coming up in the near future for fans of the Twisted Twins: To be released this year, the sisters have been working on a remake of David Cronenberg’s Rabid. This is a highly anticipated movie for fans, and if you are familiar with the original, will notice that the sisters have a long-running theme of surgical operations and body modification to severe extents in their work. Based on what we have seen so far, I have very high hopes.