EXCISION (2012) Review

Directed by: Richard Bates Jr.
Starring: Annalynn McCord, Traci Lords, Ariel Winter

I can say with complete confidence that EXCISION is one of the most original and interesting films of the year. To call it horror would not be entirely accurate however because although it exhibits elements of horror it works mostly as a drama and black comedy. The fact that this is the debut film (feature of otherwise) from Richard Bates Jr. is incredible and I would say that we can expect great things from him in the future.

Pauline (McCord) is the epitome of unpopularity at her school. Bad skin, bad posture, sociopathic and with a disturbing interest in surgical procedures. Although she exhibits a desire to be a surgeon her academic attitude certainly doesn't reflect it. She is constantly challenging her teachers, faking illnesses and her peers obviously see her as a disturbed freak. At home things aren't much better. Her mother (Lords) acts like a royal bitch most of the time, her father is obviously under his wife's thumb and Pauline's sister Grace (Winter) is slowly dying and in need of a lung transplant. Pauline is friendless and takes part in therapy with the local priest. The film chronicles many things including the volatile relationship between mother and daughter, Pauline struggling with her Atheist beliefs and her desire to do whatever is in her power to help her sister whom it seems is the only person she truly loves. Along the way Pauline visibly transforms from just another seemingly strange teenager to a complete off the rails sociopath, and all the while she is formulating a shocking plan.

As I mentioned earlier I would hesitate in calling this a horror, but it definitely isn't a movie for the faint of heart. The scenes which convey Pauline's fantasy are disturbingly sexual and beautifully macabre and are easily the most striking and disturbing part of the film. They are bloody and disgusting and mesmerising at the same time, and they look fantastic.

McCord plays the part of Pauline perfectly and in some ways brings to mind the title character in Lucky McKee's MAY, albeit much more extreme. Along with Traci Lords she pretty much carries the film in terms of acting (wow I never imagined I'd be saying that about a former adult film star). What surprised me most on the acting side of things however were the brilliantly played smaller roles which included John Waters and Malcolm McDowell.

It's clear that a lot of horror fans probably won't like EXCISION. There is lots of blood and disturbing imagery but nothing scary and it definitely doesn't play out like a horror film. As a macabre, psychosexual thriller and a dramatic comedy however it works really well. It's easily one of the best looking movies I've seen all year and it is a breath of fresh air compared to all of the recycled trash that's been churned out lately. I can see a lot of people having issues with the ending as well but I definitely recommend you check this out at least once.

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