Earlier last week I took the time to reconnect with a family friend. During the visit we took the chance to watch Excision together. We knew absolutely nothing about this film going in and it proved to quite the experience. Excision evokes the same kind feelings in me as We Are What We Are, one of my all time favorite horror movies. So expect to hear me singing this movies praises.
Excision follows the mental decline of Pauline (AnnaLynne McCord), a social outcast with dreams of becoming a surgeon. Pauline’s younger sister, Grace (Ariel Winter) suffers from cystic fibrosis, causing the girl’s mother, Phyllis (Traci Lords) to be controlling. Pauline repeatedly has vivid dreams in which blood plays a central focus along with strong sexual themes. Pauline approaches fellow classmate Adam (Jeremy Sumpter) asking if he would take her virginity. He agrees and Pauline engineers the date so she will be on her period when she loses her virginity. Her behavior becomes more and more extreme with her cutting a red cross symbol into her arm and dissecting a dead bird. With her final breaking point being when Pauline learns her sister’s doctor suggests she be placed on the transplant list.
I like how real Excision feels. With the majority of the film being shot very simply with a strong focus on reality. Where as Pauline’s dreams are neat, artistic and abstract. The two styles pair up against one another beautifully, creating a clear disconnect between how Pauline sees the world as opposed to the rest of us.
The acting is top-notch across the board. But while all the actors in the film do an outstanding job, each worthy of its own individual praise. I’m going to single a few people out. First off is AnnaLynne McCord, who absolutely owned her role as Pauline and I’m not the only who thinks so. As she won “Best Actress” at the Malaga International Week of Fantastic Cinema and won her second place in the same category at the Fangoria Chainsaw Awards. Her portrayal as a social outcast, unable to relate to the world around her sliding into delusion is beyond outstanding. The unpopular kid in all of us wants to care and relate to her. But Pauline is crazy and we get to be along for the ride so we can’t. Ariel Winters, Traci Lords and Roger Bart all deliver noteworthy performances.
Like We Are What We Are, Excision is a slow burn. Slowly drawing you in until the tipping point, where it starts barreling to an amazing conclusion. The climax creates a lasting impression that continues to linger. Which delivers an emotional punch that leaves you feeling a more than a little hollow after.
As both director and writer Richard Bates Jr. has established himself on my radar in a big way. So expect to see a review of his other film Suburban Gothic reviewed in the not too distant future. I don’t know if this was his exact vision, but I have a feeling that it is.
Final thoughts, if you haven’t seen I strongly recommend you do so. I only ask you keep in mind that Excision is more Gothic Horror, other than gore and jump scares. My single gripe is that Roger Bart’s role as Bob, Pauline’s father is very down played. His character comes off more than a little weak. Excision is a the kind of horror film that reminds why I love the genre so much 10/10.