When I found out there was a movie that brought together Traci Lords, John Waters, Malcolm McDowell, Marlee Matlin and Matthew Gray Gubler I had to see it. When I saw that it starred AnnaLynne McCord from 90210 I wasn’t so sure.
I’m glad I took a chance on it. I’m not gonna lie, AnnaLynne McCord surprised the hell out of me. In fairness to her, I’ve not watched any of 90210. I’m a purist; without Dylan it’s nothing. Sorry – having an 80s flashback there. McCord is a very talented actor.
This is a dark comedy of the best variety. Be warned; this is a horror movie and it’s a brilliant one. Richard Bates Jr. has written and directed a masterpiece. Trying to create a script that can make people laugh and still horrify them is a tricky thing and Bates has nailed it.
In no small way – the brilliance of this film is due to AnnaLynne McCord. Somehow, I didn’t realize she was who she was in this film – and that’s generally something that only happens to me when Gary Oldman is involved. McCord is fantastic as the film’s disturbed (and disturbing) lead, Pauline. Within the very opening minutes of the film it is clear that Pauline is more than just your average angst-filled teenager. She is truly disturbed.
It’s not surprising that Pauline is a near-lunatic once her family appears on-screen. Pauline’s mother Phyllis (Traci Lords) is a controlling, over-bearing, bitter and cold woman. She cares little for Pauline and prefers their fatally ill, younger daughter, Grace (Ariel Winter). Pauline’s father, Bob (Roger Bart) is so submissive he’ll make your knees hurt; he does little to stand up for his children and seem to be slogging through life in a trance.
Pauline’s obsessed with her little sister’s illness and intent on becoming a doctor. Bodily functions are simplistic and perfunctory to her and it’s in the world of her dreams that her wildest fantasies are released. If you’ve got a weak stomach there are some scenes that you may find disturbing; but then you probably wouldn’t pick up this movie simply because of its cover. This is no “Saw” or “Hostel” (even though there’s a shared cast member.)
The gory expression of Pauline’s inner struggle to be recognized is relevant even while it’s shocking. Some of the scenes don’t register as disturbing until you realize that you’re watching it and thinking how artistic it is. There is something hauntingly beautiful about the visceral expression of Pauline’s subconscious while she is dreaming.
Don’t be mistaken; there’s no happy ending or funny punchline to the end of this film. But in a world of so many terrible horror films “Excision” seems destined to be a cult classic.
This insane film is made even better by a rather magical appearance by John Waters as a misguided Minister trying to counsel Pauline, Marlee Matlin as a snarky guidance counselor and Matthew Gray Gubler and Malcolm McDowell as High School teachers.
If you’re particular about the genre films you see – this one won’t leave you disappointed. It’s already out of BR and well worth the $20 for the high quality viewing session.