Excision – Movie Review

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Movies set within a family environment of American Suburbia can take hold in pretty much any genre. Be it a whimsical comedy or bloody horror, traversing the picket-fence lifestyle is a staple of US cinema and Excision, the directorial debut from Richard Bates Jr, further explores American family life via the delusional mind of a teenage outcast.

Adapted from Bates Jr”s own short film of the same name, Excision follows Pauline (AnnaLynne McCord), an awkward teenage loner with delusional aspirations towards a career as a surgeon. Isolated from her peers and detached from her domineering Mother (Traci Lords), Pauline straddles a disturbing line of reality and fantasy in the hope that she can perform the potentially life saving surgery on her sister Grace (Ariel Winter) in an attempt to mend the waning relationship with her family.

Roger Bart, AnnaLynne McCord & Traci Lords

Taking some cues from Donnie Darko, another suburban genre piece, Pauline is a quirky yet incredibly intelligent loner who frequently loses herself in her own demented and explicit fantasies. 90210“s AnnaLynne McCord portrays Pauline with such a distinct awkwardness from the outset, it is often uncomfortable yet constantly fascinating to watch. The transformation between the perception of herself in her head and in reality is incredible, creating a character we both feel sorry for and fear greatly. Praise, therefore, must be thrown in spades at McCord for completely letting loose in the lead role and dispelling any preconceptions of her flawless 90210 persona. With great credit to Richard Bates Jr, he has managed to attract a very impressive cast from top to bottom. Appearances from veteran Malcolm McDowell and the always superb John Waters are surprising for a film of this ilk but are subtle strokes of genius all the same, and rising star Ariel Winter is as confident and endearing as her character in Modern Family playing Pauline”s cystic fibrosis suffering sister, Grace. Roger Bart and especially Traci Lords, are excellent as Pauline”s mentally fatigued parents and it really helps you feel the strained relationship between mother and daughter is genuine. With such a convincing family dynamic, Bates Jr manages to make the unsurprising yet incredibly upsetting finale stay with you days after watching and this is where Excision succeeds; it cuts you deep.

The portrayal of Pauline”s fantasies with such visceral and brutal imagery is persistent in Excision, creating a look akin online casino games no download to a modern art installation from someone like Tracey Emin. A sexualised use of blood and gore reminiscent of the incredible denouement in Carrie (yet another suburban genre piece) is an ever present in Bates Jr”s vision of such garish dreamscapes, and he really does successfully create a disturbing and truly worrying inclination to the frailty of such a young girl”s mind with such a brash approach. Visually arresting, it really does grab you by the balls at every point we are welcomed into Pauline”s head and while it is sadistic, disgusting and somewhat overly brutal, it somehow manages to simultaneously be a thing of beauty.

One of Pauline”s deluded sequences of graphic fantasy. These are heavy yet very artistic and wonderfully shot.

While modest in length at 81 minutes, it is apparent the film is adapted from a short, and is probably where the film struggles most. While the haunting script is balanced perfectly with witty dialogue and moments of heightened realism and originality, the daydreams of its lead character gradually become a little self indulgent, and her exchanges with God threaten to become tedious. Although it does appear there was a bit of a struggle to stretch the original premise into the length of a feature, this isn”t enough of a reason to mentally switch off by its conclusion.

While its themes and portrayal of such won”t be for the squeamish or prudish readers of the Daily Mail, a superb ensemble cast and a ballsy approach to film making should be enough to satisfy the curious…and like 2011″s We Need to Talk About Kevin, it makes me not want to have children.

Excision has a limited UK cinematic release on the 2nd of November.

It is release on Blu-Ray and DVD on the 12th of November. 

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  • Avatar
    Elwood Jones 29th December 2012

    The second half of this film really disappointed me as it suffers from being caught up in the spectacle of it all. It really is the sort of which seems to really divide folks opinions.

    Still while it might seem like a random series of increasingly disgusting and shocking events, it was a couple of days after seeing the film, that it dawned on me that what we are witnessing here is the birth of a psycho only shot from the psycho’s perspective, something only furthered by the slowly graduating between the levels of psycho behaviour, as Pauline moves from fantasies to dissecting dead animals to ultimately moving onto human dissection, all under the guise of her desire to be a surgeon. Further evidence of this theory for myself was seen in her ever growing desire to break social norms, as her world view twists to suit her personal outlook such as her blasé reaction to having her period while clumsily seducing her high school crush Adam (Sumpter) with the prospect of easy sex. Sadly director Bates chooses for some reason to not give us a big insight into why Pauline does what she does and instead gives us an ending which seems more sudden than conclusive.


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