Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Excision (Review)


Excision (2012)

Directed by Richard Bates Jr.

See the poster on the right? That's actress AnnaLynne McCord. She is extremely hot and beautiful. See the upside down picture of her? That's also her. What you'll get with Excision is more upside down brunette AnnaLynne rather than blonde AnnaLynne. And you know what?

It's that brunette "ugly" AnnLynne that makes Excision one hell of a fuckin movie.

McCord's complete transformation from one of the hottest young stars in Hollywood to an outcasted, odd and completely crazy Pauline is one of the best performances of the year. In Excision, Richard Bates debut film based on his short, a coming of age story on a volcano of WTF. Delusional and dreamlike, Excision is suburban America macabre, weirdness with a smile and a bloody mouth. It feels American Mary-ish but less grown up. Which isn't really a bad thing. I would say it would be this years The Woman, where we see the suburban darkness in a Tim Burton like universe.

It's truly one of the oddest and jaw dropping films I've seen and makes a case for a spot on my 2012 list. Weird vivid imagery, characters that are all red blooded 'Murica! and a lead character that goes against all that is normal in our very normal world.

Whatever I thought would happen, didn't. And for that I applauded.

Boring Plot-O-Matic

A disturbed and delusional high school student with aspirations of a career in medicine goes to extremes to earn the approval of her controlling mother. 

Awesome Review-O-Matic

The movie starts off with delusions. Pauline's (AnnaLynne McCord) delusions can only mean she's a little more than fucked up. Bloody dreams full of corpses and unnecessary surgery are ones that can only mean one may be unhinged. She's a student with a overbearing mom (Traci Lords), a terminally ill sister and a sissy dad. Pauline is truly an ugly duckling....long uncombed hair, a few specks of acne and a wardrobe from the dollar store. Her personality is the very definition of "anti", questioning the authority of her teachers and priest. However, she is an independent woman, bent on making the people around her uncomfortable and making sure she gets what she wants.

The plot is more so a character study of Pauline. Her mom raises her in that pageant mom sorta way and as moms do make her do things she doesn't want. If there is a plot to Excision it's buried in the mundane tasks her mom wants Pauline to do. What you believe to be a movie where somehow an ugly duckling turns into a swan never goes into that territory and thank the horror gods for that. It never wavers in the fact that some people are comfortable in their own skin and no level of makeup, change in attire or weight loss will make one happy.

As we follow Pauline along, her main motivation is to survive the day, barely caring what people think of her but more so to become a surgeon to cure her sister. But how can one do that when you go against the current of all that is normal? This leads to an ending that is a reality to check to her and to all of us. A pure WTF moment at it's most raw.

McCord is downright unrecognizable as Pauline. If you Google her, you'll see an actress that barely resembles Pauline. I really do admire an actress who's willing to not rely on her looks, done some serious ugly prosthetics and give a performance that goes beyond what we think they can do. Here McCord is fantastic, her monologues against religion and than praying to God are superb. As you watch her performance, you only see Pauline a distraught teenager with some serious case of mental issues. It was amazing to see her stripped of beauty and act as this quirky know it all.

Lords also gives quite a performance as the toddler and tiara mom. Who knew an underage pornstar from the 80s could actually give a performance like this?

The seductive feeling of Excision is that you want to root for Pauline, as we the viewer usually root for the outsider. We tend to think we're all outsiders and not one of the Hollister and Amber and Crombie clone zombies. The fact she alienates everybody around her makes her more appealing. Though we all seem to think she'll eventually fit in by metamorphasizing into one of the clones, like one of those cheesy 80s teenage rom coms...she doesn't.

Bates seems to want you to be uncomfortable and like Pauline even though she does despicable things. She's "ugly", she's non compliant and she's independent. How can we like somebody like that? But somehow I did like her. I haven't seen a character like that since Lucky McKee's May. Many movies have tried this (and you'll see it in the Carrie remake for sure). It's a hard to make somebody care for somebody that crazy.

The film is not perfect though. We've seen some of that Excision "formula" of outcast vs The Cleavers before and it rehashes things in a few films I've seen before. The focus is a bit disjointed as Pauline clashes with her family, her school and her classmates. Nothing is really gained by these entanglements except getting to see how strange and fucked up Pauline is. And in a nutshell, like I said before, there really is no plot in this. There is nothing really significant that's happening to Pauline that is remotely interesting. Like I said, it's just a day in the life of....

With that said, can somebody who's everything society has taught us is not beautiful be somebody we can care about? That's where this movie will be a hit or miss with viewers. If you dig Pauline, you'll see that the American cookie cutter society is the source of the unhappy. If you don't, your more inclined for her to conform. It's a black comedy that makes you feel awkward because you may see YOU as the type of character onscreen. Pauline's witty comebacks and contradictions will make you laugh, but oddly make you think as well.

Excision is that little film that questions our American values and whether or not we can find happiness in who we are and whether or not we can do it while were a little bit crazy. Underneath the prototypical family is a world we don't necessarily see. Everybody is a bit crazy, has dreams that would make the most alpha male cringe but we hide those feelings and those thoughts deep into the trenches of our brain.

Some people let it all out and show the world who they really are. So who's really normal huh?


Weird dreams by Pauline means naked women for us!


Some blood that your tween brother can handle

WTF moment

The ending

The Jaded Viewer's Final Prognosis

Excision is out on Blu Ray and DVD. Check out the official site and Facebook page. It's a soon to be cult classic, waiting to be discovered by some curious movie fan and hopefully embraced by the horror community. It's worth a look to see why Excision is curiously on some Best of 2012 lists.


Check out the trailer.


  1. 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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