You know, every now and then, I would come across a film that would almost blow my mind. Some films blow my mind because they are just so outstanding and then, there are those films that blow my mind because of its weirdness. Such a film is director Richard Bates Jr.‘s “Excision”. Let’s get right to the point, “Excision” is the kind of film that will not be appreciated by everyone.
Pauline (marvelously played by a barely recognizable AnnaLynne McCord) is a high school girl that is different from the norm; I mean, really different. She is the kind of girl who walks around almost un-groomed, she fantasizes about dying horrible, bloody deaths, and frequently dreams about several odd things that includes having sex with corpses. Pauline also wants to be a surgical doctor, is also well-read and knows a little too much about the human anatomy. She lives with a domineering mother, Phyllis (played by former porn star Traci Lords), a submissive father, Bart (Roger Bart) and a younger sister, Grace (Ariel Winter) who has cystic fibrosis. Now in order for you to gauge the film’s weirdness, Pauline would have the ‘balls’ to ask a question during science class “is it possible to get STD’s if you have sex with a dead body?” Oh, she is serious, and her classmates just laugh it off. Pauline also coerces a classmate to take her virginity, and she likes to have sex during menstruation. Pauline is one troubled teen and she even knows it. Pauline even insists that she needs to talk to a professional, but her parents instead puts her up for counseling with a parish priest.
What I liked about “Excision” the most is the fact that it knew that it was a weird movie and revels in that weirdness. It is one crazy and odd movie, and it is hard to review it and say just how good it is without giving away spoilers. The screenplay builds it up as some sort of family drama, and yet one can see that there is something a little ‘off’. Much of the film revolves around Pauline, we get to know what she is thinking of, she even tries to pray to a God she professes to not believe in, and the viewer is exposed to just how snarky she is. “Excision” is funny, but not laugh out loud funny or comedic funny, it just starts off funny since Pauline has certain qualities that one would easily dismiss as harmless sarcastic behavior because of her developing hormones as a teen. Oh, despite her being a sourpuss most of the time, Pauline declares that she loves her sister and vows to cure her of her affliction.
With all the family drama and humorous sarcasm going into its script, the direction draws its viewer in with the display of several morbid imagery within Pauline’s mind. What the film does well is how it manages to build up in a very subtle and a ‘come from nowhere’ delivery. The film also has some characters with personalities as Traci Lords surprisingly comes out with a very credible performance. I’ve seen her other films on Cinemax, and Lords just ruled her role as the uptight mother Phyllis; she is annoying and yet lovable. Between her and the fantastic performance by McCord, the film had no problems drawing me into its narrative. McCord is such a team player, and she becomes her role. She is not the hottie we’ve seen in “Nip Tuck” and “90210“. If you’ve seen Charlize Theron in “Monster”, you would know exactly what I mean. McCord is also pretty funny with a straight face, her delivery of her ‘prayers’ is certainly one for the morbidly funny books.
I think I have given up enough without really saying what the film is really about. I am dying to talk more about this film, but I cannot say more without ruining its effect. The film is also smartly paced and has a good 80 minute runtime. The script and the direction kept things simple with no unnecessary ’fat’ to make things longer, and does an excellent job in keeping its execution on point. The final act is the film’s bread and butter and so to close up this review, “Excision” is one of those sleeper hits as troubled teen, Pauline takes her fantasies to the extreme. It is not one of those typical tales about teenage angst, but it features gore, necrophilia and blacker than black humor. It has a subtle message for parents to look for the 'warning signs' and to quickly act on them. Certainly not for everyone, but if you appreciate art house independent horror as I do, then you just have to see this film.