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Film / American Mary

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American Mary is a 2012 horror film staring Katharine Isabelle, and directed by the Soska Sisters. It focuses on a young surgery student, Mary Mason, with financial troubles, resorting to offering services as a masseuse at a strip club. But at her interview at the strip club, Mary is asked to performe surgery on an injured man, the reward being $5,000 in cash. Soon, Mary begins to receive customers looking for extreme body modification, and her mind begins to unravel after betrayal from her medical school professor. The trauma forces her to quit and as the movie goes on she finds herself involved in the underground world of bod-mod, pushing the limits more and more.


This film provides examples of:

  • Absolute Cleavage: Mary shows off hers in a sexy green dress in the party scene.
  • Affably Evil: Mary herself becomes this, along with Billy and Lance.
  • American Title: Ironic considering it's a Canadian film. It does, however, take place in Seattle. Word of God however tells us that "American" stands for the fact that the main character is living a slightly morbid version of the American Dream.
  • An Arm and a Leg: Mary surgically removes all four of Dr. Grant's limbs.
  • And I Must Scream: Played literally straight with Dr. Grant.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: The modifications that Mary is shown to have done to Dr. Grant include amputation, genital modification, stitching the mouth shut, and... putting in an ear stretcher. Admittedly, it probably wasn't a gradual and safe stretch.
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  • Asshole Victim: Dr. Grant, again. Same with Dr. Walsh.
  • Barbie Doll Anatomy: Ruby wants this for real, out of a desire to not be seen as a sex object.
  • Body Horror: The film introduces body modification as a form of torture, which Mary uses on Dr. Grant. She alters his genitals, sews his mouth shut, and chops off various limbs, and leaves him in suspension for days on end.
    • Ruby, Mary's first client, has her nipples cut off and her vagina sewn together.
    • A pair of twins wanted their left arms exchanged, and horns placed on their foreheads.
  • Book Ends: The first and last thing we see Mary do in the movie is suture incisions. The first time, she is practicing on a turkey. The last time, she is trying to stitch up a fatal stab wound in her stomach.
  • Black and Grey Morality: On one hand, Mary tortures people with surgical modification. On the other hand, her targets are bad people.
  • Blood Is the New Black: Mary ends up drenched in blood after savagely murdering a security guard. Some of the film's posters, such as this one, also depict this.
  • Break the Cutie: Mary just wanted to become a surgeon, but between finances, asshole professors, murder... she's barely there by the end.
  • Brilliant, but Lazy: Subverted - Mary's lecturers believe her to be this, but when she misses lectures it's due to money troubles or other mitigating circumstances.
  • Camping a Crapper: Mary's stalks and attacks the woman she caught giving Billy head in the club's restroom. She catches her and has bent over the sink, about to cut her throat when she thinks better of it and lets her go.
  • Celebrity Resemblance: Beatress deliberately cultivates this, but the celebrity she is changing herself to resemble is a cartoon character.
  • Closest Thing We Got: Despite only being a medical student, Mary performs surgery on a client of Billy's whose body modification has gone wrong after Billy offers her a large amount of cash because she is in the club at the time and the only person around with any surgical experience.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: What a vengeful Mary does to Dr. Grant, utilizing body modification as a form of torture.
  • Creator Cameo: The Soska Sisters appear as a pair of Creepy Twins.
  • Creepy Twins: The Soska sisters. Their introductory scene has one of them kiss a stripper, only to bite her tongue off!
  • Crucified Hero Shot: The final shot of the film (complete with stomach wound!).
  • Dark Chick: Mary. Dark hair, black clothing, lack of emotion.
  • A Date with Rosie Palms: One of Mary's customers tries to masturbate after having some work done on his penis... before it had a chance to heal. Mary points out what a moronic thing this is to do.
  • Deadly Doctor: After being raped by Dr. Grant, Mary has him kidnapped and then uses him to practice her body modification surgery on.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Mary, so much. Everything she says is practically dripping with sarcasm.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Mary, contemplating the strip club job, and then coming to grips with the impromptu surgery afterwards.
  • Dies Wide Open: Mary herself.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Narrowly averted. Mary comes close to maiming and/or killing another woman for giving Billy head, but ultimately decides to not go through with it.
  • Downer Ending: Mary is attacked and murdered by Ruby's husband (who is angered over the skin-removal surgery) right after showing a hint of wanting to get out of the shady business. Despite suturing her wound, she dies. In the ensuing police investigation, her black market body modification studio is exposed, as well as her kidnapping and mutilation of Dr. Grant thanks to the catalog.
  • Dull Surprise: Deliberately invoked. Mary becomes steadily more detached and deadpan as the events of the film desensitize her.
  • Dying Moment of Awesome: Mary bites out the throat of Ruby's husband after he inflicts a fatal stab wound on her.
  • Exact Words: The excuse the penis-altered patient uses when he comes in for a check-up. Mary had only told him no sex.
  • Eye Scream: The man Mary first performs surgery on has had one of his eyes gouged out.
  • Fallen-on-Hard-Times Job: Medical student Mary is reduced to applying for a job as a masseuse at a sleazy strip club to pay off her debts. However, during her 'interview', a medical emergency arises that opens up a whole new career path for her.
  • Fan Disservice:
    • The rape scene.
    • Ruby's surgery was meant to be this In-Universe.
  • Fanservice: Katharine Isabelle in lingerie. And that green dress that exposed her cleavage in Dr. Walsh's party.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Walsh and Grant. They barely try to hide it.
  • Foreshadowing: From what Dr. Walsh says at the party "Dr. Black, I see you've met Mary." and his description of what he does, one can figure out that the man who greets and drugs Mary is Dr.Black. Back at the club Bobby needed Mary because "Black is gone". This and Mary starting to lose her focus hints at what's about to come.
    • During Dr. Grant's lecture, he describes the length of time amputated extremities - namely the arms, hands and fingers - can last before it's too late to re-attach them. Mary later removes all four of his limbs as part of the torture she inflicts on him. This also comes into play during her surgery on the twins.
    • While in Ruby's apartment, Mary sees some photographs of Ruby with a man, and Beatress comments that the man is Ruby's husband. Said husband turns up in the ending to murder Mary, after beating the shit out of Beatress, in revenge for Ruby's surgery.
    • At one point, Beatress comments that artists usually have to be dead before their work is appreciated. Mary is killed during the climax.
  • Genki Girl: Beatress is a very upbeat, perky woman throughout the whole film. The only exception is after Ruby's husband savagely beats her.
  • Gentle Giant: Lance, who is generally nice to Mary even after she goes off the deep end.
  • Girl-on-Girl Is Hot: Not when one of the women bites the other's tongue off, it isn't.
  • Good Is Not Nice: Lance hunted down his mother's murderer and beat him to death with his bare hands. He also openly admires Mary's Cold-Blooded Torture of Dr. Grant and states that he wished he'd known Mary back then.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: Aside from a close-up of Mary starting to remove Ruby's nipple, as well as some of her surgery on the twins, none of her other surgical procedures are shown on camera. Later, when she kills the security guard, we don't see the blows inflicted on him, but we do see Mary getting splattered with blood.
  • Groin Attack: Mary surgically alters Dr. Grant's genitals during her torture of him, but exactly what she does to them is never shown. Given what he did to her, it's possible she removed them entirely.
  • Gross-Up Close-Up: The film opens with extreme closeups of Mary suturing a turkey.
    • During Ruby's surgery, there are several closeups of Mary starting to remove a nipple.
  • Incest Subtext: The twins seem a bit too close with each other.
  • Ironic Echo: Mary to Dr. Grant - "Surgeons can't afford to make mistakes."
  • Jerkass:
    • Dr. Walsh's Establishing Character Moment is asking Mary to deliver the bad news to a family that their father has just had a heart attack... and then to go back two seconds later and tell them that he has died. Regardless of any hard lessons he is trying to impart to his interns, this is incredibly insensitive to the patient's family.
    • Dr. Grant constantly berates Mary for being lazy and not paying attention while she's clearly one of his better students.
    • Mary slowly turns into one after her rape scene.
    • Beatress's rude niece Tessa barely cares for anything other than her next hit of cocaine.
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch: Mary's torture and later murder of Dr. Grant, and later Billy's murder of Dr. Walsh.
  • Legitimate Businessmen's Social Club: Although it's never outright stated, Billy and the other club owners are heavily implied to be mafia.
  • Mad Doctor: Drs. Grant and Walsh, not to mention the young surgeon at the party ("I cut people up for a living!"). And after a while, Mary herself.
  • Misplaced Retribution: The finale revolves around Ruby's husband flipping out after seeing her voluntary Barbie Doll Anatomy, and holding Beatress and Mary responsible.
  • Nightmare Fetishist: Pretty much all of Mary's clients.
  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent: For a film called "American Mary" and claiming to be set in Seattle, almost everyone clearly speaks with a Canadian accent with all the "Oots", "Aboots" and "Soories".
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: And unfortunately for the victim, Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil.
  • Police Are Useless: Detective Dolor is investigating first Dr. Grant's disappearance, then Dr. Walsh's. He gets nowhere until the very end, after everyone involved is dead.
  • Plot-Irrelevant Villain: Ruby's husband. His only effect on the plot is that he kills Mary at the end and even then it comes off as a Diabolus ex Machina.
  • Protagonist Journey to Villain: Mary starts out as merely wanting to make some easy money. After her rape, she steadily becomes more and more detached and sadistic over the course of the film, with her murder of a perfectly innocent security guard being what pushes her into a Villain Protagonist. At one point, she even threatens a woman purely for giving Billy oral sex.
  • Rape and Revenge: Dr. Grant rapes Mary at a party after having her drugged. She responds by having him captured so she can torture him with body modification techniques... and keep him alert throughout the whole process.
  • Rape as Drama: Mary is roofied and raped by her professor.
  • Red Baron: Mary picks up the suitably macabre nickname of "Bloody Mary" among the online body modification community.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge:
    • Mary uses body modification on an unwilling Dr. Grant and keeps him alive. He is left unable to call for help or run away.
    • Ruby's husband attacks Mary over his wife's surgery.
  • Rule of Symbolism: Every song in the soundtrack, whether it's being played over the scene or is actually in it.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: As a result of Mary's new, scary reputation, two strippers get the hell out of the toilets when Mary walks in. The girl who turned up for her interview doesn't, as she has no idea who Mary even is. She almost gets maimed/killed as a result.
  • Self-Surgery: At the end of the film, Mary gets stabbed in the stomach by Ruby's husband. After dealing with him, she collapses. She drags herself across the floor and knocks over a trolley of surgical instruments, and attempts to suture up her wound. However, despite doing an excellent job on the stitching, she bleeds out anyway and dies.
  • She's Got Legs: Mary is often seen in outfits that show off her long legs, often coupled with stiletto heels.
  • Stab the Salad: The opening shots show black gloved hands making incisions into flesh and then stitching them up. However, this turns out be Mary practicing her surgical technique by sewing extra wings on to a turkey.
  • Stocking Filler: Mary arrives for her interview to be a masseuse wearing a black bustier with matching garter belt, stockings and stripper heels. This outfit reappears multiple times over the course of the film.
  • Stylish Protection Gear: Mary wears a set of very distinctive, non-standard, bright red surgical scrubs.
  • Tap on the Head: Defied. A security guard discovers Mary's torture chamber, punches her to the ground, and turns away to try and help her victim - Mary recovers almost immediately, surprises him from behind, and beats him to death.
  • Thousand-Yard Stare: The morning after her rape at the hands of Dr. Grant, Mary just stares into space when leaving his apartment.
  • Tongue Trauma: Mary begins her torture of Dr. Grant by splitting his tongue against his will. Later, one of the Creepy Twins bites off the tongue of a stripper for no discernible reason.
  • Torture Porn: In-universe, Mary's work on Dr. Grant is widely admired.
  • To the Pain: Mary lists off the most common body modifications that she wishes to 'practice' on Dr. Grant.
  • Uncertain Doom: The last time we see Beatress, she's been horrifically beaten up by Ruby's husband. It's uncertain whether or not she survives.
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: Billy repeatedly fantasizes about Mary, and kidnaps and beats Dr. Walsh to death after he finds out what he and Dr. Grant did to her. For her part, Mary shows almost complete indifference to Billy's advances (barring the very end, ironically right before she is murdered) but comes close to stabbing another girl after walking in on her sucking him off. "Shows" being the key word here, though, as she's reluctant to show her true self after everything that happened. The only one seeing a glimpse of the "real" Mary is Lance, the big thug, during the "milkshake" scene.
  • Villain Protagonist: Mary is an Anti-Hero up until she beats a completely innocent security guard to death for trying to save Dr. Grant.
  • The Voice: Mary's grandmother in Budapest.
  • Vomit Discretion Shot: Mary vomits in her toilet after her surgery on Ruby.
  • Your Makeup Is Running: After Mary is raped by Dr. Grant, there is a scene of her riding the elevator to the ground with her mascara running from her tears.


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