Excision means removal by cutting cut. With that being said maybe you’ve learned something, so this review won’t be a complete waste of time. I may even be able to save you a bit of time by telling you that Excision is definitely worth seeing. Reading the rest of this review won’t spoil its rather knotted twist, but if you were looking for a movie to watch that’ll get under your skin, make for a great conversation starter after a few cocktails and leave you with a permanent case of “what the fuck was that?” I can say you’ve found it. It isn’t a horror movie no matter how many times I see it referred to as a horror comedy. You know me. I’ve pretty got a one track brain so when I choose to review a non-horror picture it probably means there’s something to say about it especially when there’s overt references to potential debauchery. Typically when a movie gets the erroneous horror label I attack it because I’ve grown quite sick of watching artsy fartsy indie flicks trying to appeal to the niche audience that is our little horror world, ever ready to be faithful supporters of a potential spookfest or goreshow. Tag a non-horror movie with a horror title or at least an not entirely commonly used medical terms and then make a dark, shadowy trailer and you’ve got a bunch of guys and gals in black hoodies hitting the “add to cart” button on Amazon even before the movie has been released. Excision isn’t a horror movie. It’s just a great movie. It’s upsetting and, yes, even funny at times. Let’s break it down.
Synopsis from Anchor Bay:
A surgery-obsessed teen struggles with her outcast status while plotting to lose her virginity and save her sister from the ravaging effects of cystic fibrosis in this genre-bending shocker from writer/director Richard bates, Jr. Pauline (Annalynne McCord) is a pretty young girl whose penchant for picking scabs has escalated into a fanatical obsession with the flesh. Recognizing this, Pauline’s stern mother insists that the young girl visit the church therapist for counseling. Incensed at the prospect of being judged by a religious hypocrite, Pauline only delves deeper into her visceral fantasies while concocting an ingenious plan to impress her mother. Meanwhile, as Pauline begins devising ways to combat her younger sister’s cystic fibrosis, her adolescent hormones kick into overdrive
This seems at first to be a classic coming of age or ugly duckling story (though I can assure you there is nothing ugly about our female lead). The disjointed and often passive aggressive relationship between mother and daughter is evident of the teenage rite of passage to rebel against one’s parents to gain a sense of independence. Having witnessed it first hand growing up it, was like relieving any normal morning in the Jimmy Terror household. When unchecked, the passive aggression in Excision takes a more physical and deranged turn. You have to use all your Psych 101 tricks to follow the twists and hopefully the ending won’t be immediately obvious. Without giving anything away, imagine the treachery of growing up. Challenging your mother and coming to the most complex and turmoil filled period of your life in the shadow of a sick sister. Imagine now that you are reaching out to become something great and grand, something to make you stand out and be… special. How far does that delusion of grandeur go? When does it stop being a fantasy, and when does it cross the line? When does growing up and becoming an adult stop? When do you beginning to turn into something else, distinctly other?
AnnaLynne McCord (Pauline) has been in her share of off-putting movies and TV programs from Nip/Tuck to the Day of the Dead remake to The Haunting of Molly Hartley. She’s no stranger to the strange. This outing, however, sees her at the end of a most ruthless “villain”, her mother as played by Traci Lords. I remember when Traci was in Not of this Earth. I also remember her pre-scandal career. More recently Zak and Miri which is distinctly lighthearted and clearly playing a caricature of her former prescandal self. Let me say, as a dear fan of hers, that it’s great to see her land a very serious role that allows her to use her intensity. She’s got piercing facial expressions and, in this roll, understands how to permeate every defense cast forth by her daughter, Pauline. Round out that cast with a few midnight movie and cult classic favorites in Malcolm McDowell and John Waters and balance that with a former Disney voice actor and Modern Family star, Ariel Winter and you don’t know if you’re ready to watch the next Bambi porn rip off or watch a pile of zombies perform plastic surgery on the Egg man. It’s a solid cast. This flick could go just about anywhere with these folks on board and all of them would do well in whatever it is that Excision would decide to have been.
This is Richard Bates, Jr’s first film offering. He has risen out of NYU’s TSOA, and while a film school education does not necessarily mean you’re going to get a quality product from a first time filmmaker, I think we have an excellent rookie effort. Bates obviously knows how to get the performance he wants from seasoned veteran actors. He also knows how to combine visually stunning, ultra-contrasty moving gore paintinsg within a fragile real framework. I liken it to some of the day or night dreams had by Kevin Spacey in American Beauty. Surreal images that seem to come out of the screen even without the novelty of anaglyphic glasses and conveying ideas that will shock and titillate.
Horror people, you’ll like this as long as you didn’t show up expecting a blood and guts fetish romp. I know that cover and poster art can be downright confusing even thought it is sexy and intriguing. You won’t be disappointed. I think the best question to ask yourself before watching is excision is what is the act of excising? What is being excised? There are cookie crumbs that you can follow that will lead you through Excision and get you to the end, understanding it fairly well, but I can assure you that when you find the cookie jar, you’ll be hesitant to put your hand inside and even more hesitant to eat what you pull out.
Excision will be available October 16th and can be preordered HERE. This is a very pretty Blu-ray.
You can follow it on FaceBook as it make the rounds at limited screenings.
NOTE: Not to be confused with the band or the video game. Because you could, you know… confuse them.