Excision is a good film. It’s something a bit different. Think of Heathers blended with May and then having moments from Teeth added to it. Without the vagina dentata. Unfortunately, I’d already seen the wonderful short (it’s mentioned here) so I knew where the movie was leading. This removed a lot of the impact of the film and I can’t turn back time and tell you how I would have reacted if I’d gone into the thing completely “blind”. All I can do is write my review without spoilers and rate the film as I saw it.
AnnaLynne McCord plays Pauline, a young woman who puts the fun in dysfunction. Well, that might be how she views it. Her mother (Traci Lords) is exasperated, her father (Roger Bart) yearns for an easy life and her sister, Grace (Ariel Winter), just wants to get through her life with minimal impact from the cystic fibrosis that she suffers from. Pauline loves her sister very much and hopes that one day she will be able to help alleviate her suffering. That’s why, in between convincing some young man (Jeremy Sumpter) to have sex with her and insulting the priest (John Waters) that her parents send her to instead of a therapist, she strives to educate herself so that she might one day be a great surgeon.
While Pauline exhibits the very worst aspects of a young woman going through some difficult teenage years, the fact that she’s almost a complete parody from start to finish constantly threatens to unbalance the whole movie. McCord does a superb job in the role, but it’s one full of tics and eye-rolling that feels spiritually closer to something from Whatever Happened To Baby Jane? than to those movies already mentioned in my opening paragraph. Perhaps that was intentional. When the over the top nature of the material works (most notably in confrontations – McCord insulting Waters, McCord butting heads with Malcolm McDowell) it becomes easier to see what writer-director Richard Bates Jr. was aiming for before everything is turned on its axis for the grand finale.
The script has plenty of good lines to choose from, the performances are all very good even when the characters are given over to such theatrics and there are a number of dream sequences that blend cold, sterile environments with warm, viscous content.
There’s just something about the movie that didn’t quite click for me. Perhaps it just felt as if none of the character arcs were that satisfying or perhaps it just felt like a movie trying too hard to be quirky and cool. Then again, maybe it just all comes down to the fact that I saw the short movie years ago. Plenty of other movie fans have reacted positively to this one so I recommend that you give it a watch, but I recommend it cautiously.
WRITER/DIRECTOR: RICHARD BATES JR.
STARS: ANNALYNNE MCCORD, TRACI LORDS, ARIEL WINTER, ROGER BART, JEREMY SUMPTER, JOHN WATERS, MALCOLM MCDOWELL, MARLEE MATLIN, MATTHEW GRAY GUBLER, RAY WISE
RUNTIME: 81 MINS APPROX