10th Nov2012

‘Excision’ Blu-ray Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: AnnaLynne McCord, Traci Lords, Ariel Winter, Roger Bart, Jeremy Sumpter, John Waters, Malcolm McDowell, Marlee Matlin, Ray Wise | Written and Directed by Richard Bates Jr.


Beverley Hills 90210 star AnnaLynne McCord pulls off an amazing Bela Lugosi style transformation to play a dowdy, delusional, egocentric, sociopathic outcast Pauline – a modern-day Carrie if you will (but without the telekinesis) – who spends her days being bullied at school and her nights having bizarre wet dreams about performing weird operations and relishing in the blood that flows forth from them. Her fascinations disturb her schoolmates and her parents, Phyllis (Lords) and Bob (Bart) who just want her to be “normal” like her younger sister Grace (Winter), who suffers from cystic fibrosis. An outcast at school and at home, Pauline is convinced that the best way to repair her estranged relationship with her family is to perform a risky operation to save her sister’s life…

Let’s get this out of the way first, Excision is strange. Very strange. Very, very strange…

Writer/director Richard Bates Jr. has taken his original award-winning short and expanded it into what can only be described as a David Lynchian suburban nightmare come David Cronenberg body-horror. A mix of bizarre psycho-sexual imagery, teenage angst and black comedy, the film is also that rare breed – a fantastic original idea in a world of remakes, reboots, sequels and found-footage movies! It’s a testament to the horror genre that it can, despite protestations to the contrary, produce films that are challenging, difficult and beautiful all at once.

Excision works largely because of its cast, who give their all in their roles – especially McCord as Pauline and Traci Lords as her conservative religious mother. Their estranged relationship  is central to the film, it’s impact only truly becoming clear in the films final denouement as the hard-skinned Pauline, who until that point has remained stony-faced and stoic, breaks down in the arms of her mother – not because of what she has done but because her mother is showing her affection, even in face of the situation that has occurred. It’s testament to writer/director Richard Bates Jr. that the roles, even with actors playing against type (Lords as a conservative, John Waters playing a priest), never feel false or untrue. In fact the decision to cast against type – led by the casting of typically glamourous 90210 actress Annalynne McCord as the films dowdy “heroine” – works tremendously to undermine the audiences expectations, and without expectations you’re left only with the film and the world it presents.

Inspired by the surrealism of Alejandro Jodorowsky and the body-horror of David Cronenberg, Excision is a masterpiece of horror filmmaking which will have you questioning both just what kind of person could make such a twisted movie and why you’re enjoying it so much, and marks Richard Bates Jr. as a talent to watch.

Excision is released on DVD and Blu-ray on November 12th, courtesy of Monster Pictures.


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