Katharine Isabelle as Mary Mason
Antonio Cupo as Billy Barker
Tristan Risk as Beatress Johnson
David Lovgren as Dr. Alan Grant
Gender politics have been in the spotlight recently. The women’s marches happening as I type are just the latest example. So it’s fitting that gender issues are utilized the subject of this week’s Gimili’s Palace review, American Mary.
Does that mean that I specifically planned this film for such an occasion? Hell no! It just happened to be the movie I’d received from Netflix recently.
American Mary is about a med school student named Mary Mason. Mary is struggling to pay her schooling and even living expenses, so she takes up a variety of jobs that include mini-face lifts for members of a stripper group led by a weirdo named Beatress Johnson, who’s modeled herself after Betty Boop, and the granting of low-key sexual favors for men. Personal degradation and frequent association with the abnormal take their toll. When Mary is gotten drunk by her medical teacher, Dr. Alan Grant, she finally snaps and starts to kidnap those that she feels have wronged her and uses them as medical experiments. The practice this gives her as a doctor soon enables her to start a successful career in private medicine.
And yes, this is one of those kinds of movies. Socially relevant or not, it does not serve the faint of heart well.
Mary’s descent into madness is done well. We see someone trying to learn and eventually make an honest living but takes questionable decisions to this end. Writers Jen and Sylvia Soska show us that female degradation can drive a woman over the edge. And like the great stories using blue collar men turning to crime to feed their families, this one also shows that questionable shortcuts may not be worth it.
The other characters are used mainly for dark humor. Beatress Johnson is a true odd, annoying person who means no harm but adds to Mary’s frustration anyway. Another example is Dr. Alan Grant, who seems like an evil version of the character from Jurassic Park. Both have the “doctor” title and never seem to show any emotion. Only one would commit sexual assault, though.
The acting is not so good, though the great writing covers that up at times. Timing and feeling are sub-par in the performances. Which makes for a typical horror cast.
American Mary makes its points well. It works even better as a scary, macabre gore horror movie. Just be sure that you’re into that kind of stuff.
Overall: 8 out of 10