The New York Times Reviews American Mary

Warning: Woman Wields a Scalpel By ANDY WEBSTER – May 30th, 2013 “I don’t think it’s really fair that God gets to choose what we look like on the outside, do you?” says Beatress Johnson (Tristan Risk) in “American Mary,” a new horror movie from the twins Jen and Sylvia Soska. So Beatress has had work done. Lots of work: “14 different surgeries to get me to look like this” — a nightmare Betty Boop, with a synthetic, cartoonish face to supplement her ’50s homemaker dresses and a Kewpie-doll voice uttering the occasional obscene epithet. Beatress is just one fascinating player in this compelling film about appearances and their manipulation. The title character is Mary Mason (Katharine Isabelle), a student in need of fast cash to complete her coursework in amputation surgery. Applying for employment as a masseuse at a seedy strip joint, she soon finds herself operating on men her thug boss (Antonio Cupo) has brutalized in the basement. When word gets out about Mary’s knack with a scalpel, the “body-mod community,” as Beatress calls it (as in body modification), seeks her out for overhauls and touch-ups. Ruby Realgirl (Paula Lindberg), a Jocelyn Wildenstein in the making, asks Mary to excise her nipples and minimize her genitalia. Ruby seeks the neutered look of a doll, because “a doll can be naked and never feel shy or sexualized or degraded.” Mary accommodates her, returns home and vomits, only to apply makeup in the next scene. Who drives Ruby to such lengths? Her husband, for one, and probably men like Mary’s professor (David Lovgren), who drugs and rapes Mary at a...