Tuesday, November 6, 2012

New Release Review : Excision



 Though I had seen the title Excision pop up on my Facebook feed and on various horror sites I frequent over the course of this year, since its January premiere at Sundance, I admit that I had no idea what the hell the movie actually was until a couple weeks back, when it hit home video and On Demand outlets.  It was at that point that several friends began raving about it and recommending it to me, and there were two things they all mentioned that made me realize I should probably heed their advice and check it out; it's got a bit of a May vibe to it, they said, and John Waters is in it.  And with that, I shelled out the money to rent it on VUDU last night.

Not so much a horror film but more a fascinating portrait of one weird ass young girl, Excision (which started as a short film, back in '08) is the story of Pauline, a high school student that isn't quite like the other high school students.  Ya see, Pauline has dreams of being a surgeon.  And speaking of dreams, she has vivid sexual dreams every night that often involve blood and dead bodies.  And of course, surgery, wherein she fancies herself a stunningly beautiful and incredibly skilled surgeon.  She's a greasy haired pimple faced self proclaimed demented bitch, who wants nothing more than to lose her virginity while on her period and cut people open and play around with their insides.  Oh, and she's got herpes on her lip, the result of an incident in her childhood where she nearly drowned, and her dad, who has herpes, had to give her mouth to mouth to save her life.  She hates her dad for that.  And she hates her super controlling, Barbie doll looking, God loving mother too, whom she hopes suffers a most painful demise.  And quick.  But she loves her little sister, who's got Cystic Fibrosis.  So yea.  Excision's about Pauline.  And her fucked up family.

I seem to have this weird sort of fascination with horror movies about totally twisted and bizarre female characters, which is something I can't quite explain.  Some of my favorite horror flicks of the past few years, you ask?  Well, let's see.  There's Deadgirl and The Woman.  And then we've got The Loved Ones, one of my favorites from this year.  And of course May, one of my personal favorite horror movies of all time.  What do they all have in common?  They all prominently feature weird fucked up women, who I find myself oddly infatuated with, even when they're killing people.  I'm going to have to ask my psychiatrist about that.  Gotta be something to it.

As you've probably gathered by now, Excision is my new favorite movie about a demented little girl, and Pauline my new favorite, well, demented little girl.  Masterfully brought to life by the beautiful (and barely recognizable) AnnaLynne McCord, Pauline is absolutely one of the most fascinating characters to grace the screen in recent years, and a large portion of the joy of Excision comes from watching Pauline go about her very unusual day to day life, and wondering what she's going to do and say next.  Though the movie does delve into very dark territory, enough so that it's not totally out of line to consider it a part of the horror genre, the majority of Excision focuses its time on just that; watching Pauline be Pauline.  Think coming of age indie teen drama, only directed by Cronenberg.  Or Henenlotter.  With a little Carrie, generous portions of May and even a bit of Nekromantik thrown in the mix.  That's probably the best way I could describe this oddball little treasure, though I assure you, it's unique and original enough that it deserves to be seen as its own film altogether, rather than compared to films from the past.  But yea, if you're gonna force me to compare it to any other movie, I'd have to say May, a film that mined a lot of the same territory.

But back to Pauline, who I found myself completely falling for throughout the movie, even if she likes to sniff her bloody tampons and perform crude surgical procedures on dead birds. Though perhaps it's because of those oddities, rather than in spite of them, that I was so drawn to her.  Again, will have to ask my therapist about all this, so don't bother trying to psychoanalyze me.

The great thing about the character is that you totally understand where she's coming from, and I personally related to her, even though she's admittedly a complete whack job.  She's not an out and out evil character, but rather a young outcast who's just trying to find her purpose in life, and more importantly, prove her worth to her parents.  Excision is a wonderful exploration of her psyche, and her quickly degrading mental health, which is at times darkly hilarious, at times squirm inducing and at other times just plain pitch dark, but always, above all else, incredibly amusing and entertaining.  You truly never know what Pauline is going to do next, and though you know what she's going to inevitably end up doing at the end of the film, it's the journey of her getting there that makes Excision an absolutely fascinating watch, quite unlike anything else I've seen this year.  Needless to say, writer/director Richard Bates Jr. is an up and comer that I'm highly looking forward to seeing more from.

Besides the terrific McCord, who is absolutely riveting to watch as Pauline, Excision is chock full of other great actors and familiar faces, including the aforementioned John Waters, in a brief role as a priest(!) as well as Ray Wise, in an equally minimal role as the principal at Pauline's school.  Oh and I can't leave out Malcolm McDowell, who pops up for a couple scenes as one of Pauline's teachers.  As always, all three make their marks on the overall film, despite their small roles.  Pauline's parents are played by Hostel 2's Roger Bart and ex-pornstar Traci Lords.  Lords more than holds her own and delivers a great performance as Pauline's overbearing mother, the Margaret White to her Carrie.  So serious props on the all around impressive casting.

With a nice, well balance blend of horror and darkly comical drama, Excision is definitely one of my favorite movies of 2012, a dark glimpse into the mind of a teenage psychopath that I won't soon forgetHell, even if the film were just called Pauline, and had no horrific elements to it whatsoever, I can safely stay I still would've completely fallen in love with it, thanks to the fascination factor of the lead character (which is the same way I feel about May).  What can I say, I'm just totally fascinated by weird little girls, and Pauline is one weird little girl that I highly recommend you spend an hour and 20 minutes of your life with, as soon as possible.  I only wish the movie provided even more time to spend with her, because damnit, I want more!!


Travis Gillespie said...

I am glad you liked it. I figured you would. It was much better than I was expecting when I rented it and I'm going to try to find a copy to buy soon.

Cat said...

Honestly? I thought it was dumb. And that really bothers me. I wanted to like it, but I just.. I couldn't.

I did like how it ended. It was shocking and sad, and my best friend and I were talking about how that put everything together.

TwiztidJuggla420 said...

I just watched it. I haven't been to your website in a few years, but I found your top 10 horror movies of 2012 list last night while searching for top horror movies of 2012. This movie sounded most interesting to me of the few that I hadn't yet viewed, especially when you mentioned May, which is also one of my all time favorite horror movies. I enjoyed it thoroughly and found myself desiring more, I didn't expect it to end quite that abruptly. Now I am trying to find a copy of the original short film that the movie is based on. Thanks for posting the list!