It’s been a long time since I’ve enjoyed a movie as much as I did Excision. It’s also been a long time since I’ve seen a movie this weird. What makes it even more impressive is that this was director Richard Bates Jr.’s first feature length film. In Excision, AnnaLynne McCord plays the sociopathic teen Pauline who is just trying to find her place in the world. On all sides Pauline is surrounded by people with problems of their own: Phyllis (Traci Lords) as the extremely overbearing mother, Bob (Roger Bart) as the spineless father, and Grace (Ariel Winter) as the younger sister who’s slowly dying from cystic fibrosis.
In the center of this “dark comedy coming of age story” (it’s hard to truly classify what Excision is, but that’s the best I can come up with) is Pauline who takes “not your average teenager” and multiplies it by a million. She is so blunt and uncaring about what anyone else thinks of her, she in fact tells a boy with a group of his friends, and his girlfriend sitting there, she’s going to lose her virginity to him (why that never happened to me in high school, I’ll never know). She is so mentally unstable that she really should be admitted to a psychiatrist immediately if any of the people around her weren’t too nearsighted to care about anyone but themselves. This could make Pauline entirely unrelatable but it’s actually the opposite, she demands empathy from the viewer because her heart is always in the right place, it’s just her brain isn’t. The only person who understands Pauline is her younger sister, whom Pauline is determined to save from the cystic fibrosis that is slowly killing her. Pauline actually thinks she can in fact save her because she has aspirations of becoming a surgeon, but with no intent of ever going to medical school. Instead Pauline practices her skills on dead birds.
While we see what Pauline is doing on the outside, we’re also treated to what goes on inside her head, which is some insanely disturbing imagery. Midgets, abortions, and bloody sex are all featured in these beautifully shot scenes that are dispersed throughout the film. The dream sequences are incredible to watch, drenched in a bright blue color stained with red blood. If you have even the slightest preference for the strange and macabre, you’ll love these scenes.
The entire cast is absolutely top-notch. AnnaLynne McCord is flawless as Pauline, and should really be recognized for her work on this film. During the audition for Excision she actually started cutting off her own hair on the spot when they told her she’d have to shave her head for the end of the movie. That’s the dedication it took to completely own Pauline. Multi-talented Traci Lords is also fantastic as the mother who is fighting to have the picturesque family. Roger Bart, Ariel Winters round out the family nicely. Supporting stars include Jeremy Sumpter, Malcolm McDowell, Marlee Martin and John Waters whom excels in a guest role as the seemingly apathetic priest who’s forced to act as Pauline’s pseudo-therapist.
Even through all the constant reminders with the dream sequences, it’s hard to remember that underneath its hilarious exterior, Excision is rooted in horror. Excision will have you laughing out loud at multiple scenes throughout, which makes the gut-wrenching finale all the more shocking. Excision stays with you long after watching it and this one seems like its burrowed its way into my brain and not leaving any time soon. I think I finally know what it feels like for all those religious people being compelled to gain followers for their religion; I feel like I’m doing an injustice if I don’t spread the word of Excision. Yea I just compared Excision to God, it really is that damn good.