Written and directed by Richard Bates Jr, adapted from his 2008 short film, Excision is a beautifully shot and written film that’s hard to watch and even harder to pin into any specific genre.
Pauline is a troubled eighteen year old girl – an outcast at school, hounded by her overbearing mother, she can only find solace in her understanding younger sister and her bizarrely pshychosexual dreams. With her life goal set on becoming a surgeon, she starts herself down a dark path…
I’ve been looking forward to seeing Excision after reading a number of positive reviews of it, and I have to say I wasn’t disappointed. It is a very dark, almost cautionary tale, with sparks of comedy and some truly wonderful performances. Credit needs to go to AnnaLynne McCord as Pauline. Previously seen in the TV reboot 90210, McCord is transformed here into an awkward, unattractive young woman. She dreams of being beautiful, but it’s a terrible beauty, accompanied by violence as she sees herself performing surgery on people. Her mannerisms are simultaneously humorous and disturbing; the viewer never really knows what’s going on inside her head.
Traci Lords, as well, delivers a compelling performance as Pauline’s mother. Doting on her MS suffering younger sister, she largely treats Pauline with disdain, trying to force her to be a person she obviously is not and has no inclination to be.
The film does have a slight problem in it’s difficulty to pidgeonhole into a specific genre. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but people expecting a comic drama will be shocked at the sudden bursts of graphic violence, and people after a straight up horror could be put off by the lighter moments. But it is certainly worth a watch, joining other recent genre subversive films like The Girl Next Door, The Woman and DeadGirl. It’s also got an ending that will stay with you a long time after the credits stop rolling.