Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Fantastic Fest 2012 Review- AMERICAN MARY

Directed by:  Jen and Sylvia Soska
Written by: Jen and Sylvia Soaks
Starring: Katharine Isabelle, Julia Maxwell, and Paula Linberg
Synopsis: A medical student gets involved in the world of body modifications.

I'm not normally one to preface my reviews, but let me start this one by saying that I'm an overt feminist. I don't go to films and complain about the lack of strong female characters, or support an artist just because she's a woman. I like to consider myself more of an equallitist (totally made up word). It shouldn't matter what color, sex, race, clothing, etc. that someone has, everyone has the right to be treated equally in society.

Okay. Now with my preface over and with a bit more of an understanding about me, the horror film, AMERICAN MARY, is the worst case of female empowerment of any kind that I've seen recently. Directed by the Soska Sisters, who apparently are HUGE horror fans, the film follows a promising medical student, Mary, as she gets involved underground surgical world of body modification because she's broke. Now, she's not a real doctor yet, but I guess going through a few years of medical school is close enough. The thought of exploring the "underground" world of body modification could be intriguing, but unfortunately, that intrigue gets swept under the rug by the sheer stupidity of this film. 

First, there is absolutely no time frame for this film and earthly concept of the amount of time passing between events. And apparently Mary is such a great surgeon that you can have surgery and walk out almost a day later with no issues or recovery time. But honestly, that's just a minor detail of why this movie sucks so much. As I prefaced, I'm not an uber-feminist that burns my bra on the weekend. However, I do take offense of what the Sisters did to women in this film. In fact, every character is just a stereotypical joke. All the men are assholes who just want to get laid and rape women, and I mean that literally. 

Katharine Isabelle, who plays Mary, shows glimpses of a great performance and minor formations of a character, but she is just able to work with the crap she was given. Also, I understand that the horror genre generally speaks to the male gender, so it is refreshing to see women tackle the genre. However, the Sisters know their audience, and instead of trying to break stereotypes, all females in the film are always scantily dressed in short dresses, high heels, and leather. Because, as you know, us females cook and clean and perform surgery in leather aprons and high heels. I was in disbelief. This is how these Sisters expect to gain respect as filmmakers? They're not empowering women at all. They're playing to the crowd to the lowest denominator.

It's a cluster of a film with a cohesive plot hanging on by a thread. The characters are awful, but not in a suppose-to-be-because-we're-making-a-point-and-being-deep way. Like they are truly horrible human beings with no motivation or drive. Let me take that back. Mary has some motivation. At one point in the film, she's invited to an elusive happy hour with some of the hospital's surgeons, including her professor. So, she shows up in a satin blue dress with a neckline so plunging and slutty, you'd think she's a call girl. Yep, this is what you wear to impress your new coworkers. Well, like most happy hours, she gets drugged and raped by her professor. So, interweaving this desperation of trying to make money plot, the film becomes part revenge thriller. But again, not in the empowering women sort of way.

This film is awful. Flat out horrible. It felt incandescent and utterly amateurish. Based on this film alone, the Soska Sisters have not an ounce of originality between the two of them. I don't know how this film got made. It might be fun to laugh at after a six-pack or to play a drinking game with, but please don't pay money for this.

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