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'American Mary': Revenge with a painful twist

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American Mary

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"American Mary" is one of those films that's meant to be disturbing to mainstream audiences because it features a taboo subject, in this case extreme body modification. It's a dark noir that's as much about turning you on as it is about squicking you out.

Mary Mason (Katharine Isabelle) is a struggling medical student hoping to become a surgeon. Desperate, she decides to turn to stripping. While she's there to strip, her services are put to better use saving a tortured man for $5,000. And just like that, Mary discovers that she can make more money sewing flesh up rather than showing it off.

Word gets out and it's not long before a Betty Boop-style mostly-plastic doll named Beatress (Tristan Risk) shows up to offer a new job: turning Ruby Realgirl (Paula Lindberg) into a real doll -- as in, smooth all over. And so Mary moves from the underworld of criminal surgery to the seedy underworld of body modification.

So far, so good. Mary unwisely accepts invitation to attend a party hosted by her professor, Dr. Grant (David Lovgren). Dr. Grant drugs her up and rapes her. He's so egotistical that he leaves her, dazed and wandering, at his own place as if she were just a tipsy date.

This does not go over well with Mary. Her disillusionment with the medical establishment fuels her new career, cutting and slashing her way to success through her enemies and clients. That choice will ultimately be her downfall.

"American Mary" is an original film with a twist on the typical revenge fantasy, but it's unfortunately marred by dream sequences and an occasionally scattershot plot that loses its focus. It's also not quite as horrifying as it thinks -- the extreme body modification doesn't really go far enough to impress horror fans. But for moviegoers looking for revenge with a twist, "American Mary" keeps twisting, and twisting, and twisting.

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