American Mary (2012) Directed by Jen Soska and Sylvia Soska. With Katharine Isabelle, Antonio Cupo and Paula Lindberg.
Looking for something dark and subversive to fill a hole in your Saturday night schedule? Look no further than the Soska sisters’ American Mary.
The word ‘dark’ is often applied loosely, but here it’s almost incapable of properly summing up just how dark we’re going. Before I venture further, it’s worth pointing out that this is a film that’s designed to push buttons, lots of buttons. There’s no dipping of the toe here, it’s full on full foot into the water with little concern how hot it might be. Exploring themes of extreme sexual depravity, body modification, rape and shocking violence, there’s few places to hide.
All that said, in the hands of the Sosker sisters, what might have easily played like another grubby installation of the Saw franchise is instead a well directed, if narratively slim piece of work. In the lead role of Mary, Katharine Isabelle is outstanding. Her fearless performance carries the film to another level as she simultaneously becomes both dangerously attractive and sickeningly scary.
The film might have you recall the likes of Audition or Hard Candy while tipping it’s hat to David Cronenberg along the way. It’s gruesome and threatening throughout, but the more disturbing aspects are cleverly implied, which is why I was never overly worried about the motivations of the film makers.
Twisted and darker than dark, American Mary shuns convention at nearly every turn. It’s weak narrative and ending are held up by a stunning performance from Isabelle who brings it all to the table. Not however, for the squeamish. 3/5