A disturbed and delusional high school student with aspirations of a career in medicine goes to extremes to earn the approval of her controlling mother.
Excision, directed by Richard Bates Jr, is best described “a unique experience”. Not in the way that you would describe a film that is offbeat or marginally interesting. “Excision” lets you know from the first 1 minute that it’s going to have some interesting visual inclusions. We watch as main focal star AnnaLynne McCord, playing the role of Pauline, regurgitates a mouthful of blood with her doppelganger watching.
You might lump this film into the same (but different plotline) kind of film as you would “The Woman” from 2011. I say that because there really is a high level of back and forth transformation throughout the entire production. While I have to say I really liked the movie, I couldn’t shake the transformation that actress AnnaLynne McCord had presented herself in. As Pauline, we see McCord without makeup, a bad complexion, with ratty oily black hair wearing what appears to be tomboy style clothes. In other words completely without frills, dorky, awkward and quite skanky looking (I’ve included both film images and her regular look for comparison). Which says “something” about how we present ourselves and how others perceive us “as we are presented”. It’s clear that AnnaLynne McCord is quite beautiful when she isn’t downplaying her looks, but seeing that I wasn’t familiar with her from the TV realm, it intrigued me even more. With that said, you might make a correlating character appearance approach with Pollyanna McIntosh from “The Woman” or even Hilary Swank from “Boys Don’t Cry (1999)”
This aspect is repeatively revisited in the form of Pauline’s dreams (which by most standards would be more like nightmares). In Pauline’s twisted fantasies, we see her as fascinated with blood, participating in bizarre surgery rituals and as a dominant component dolled-up like a runway model. The contrast might even prompt you to do a few pause and rewinds when we return to her movie character image. These fantasy sequences occur whenever she closes her eyes revealing her sick psyche and providing much of the films horror elements. As a horror film, you have to categorize “Excision” carefully. It’s not the kind of film that we’d expect. The film does have a horrific last scene but on the whole the horror is more “matter of fact” than the visceral nature of our usual batch.
Pauline, is an aggressive arrogant troubled teen going thru her high school years much like every other angry girl trying to get thru these times (but with some obvious specific mental issues attached) The conflict between her and her mother is typically tense but also ongoing to the point of frequent daily battles. It probably doesn’t help that her sister Grace (Ariel Winter) has assumed the role of the “model daughter” leaving Pauline to be the troubled one (the bad seed). However, what doesn’t fit is the loving relationship that the 2 sisters have for each other which in normal cases might be more as sibling rivalry.
Actress Traci Lords is quite amazing, considering her foundation, as the anxiety-filled mother Phyllis. I was surprised when I heard she was playing the role of the overbearing controlling mother, but I have to say that she nailed it, like a pro.
The family is constantly stressed, arguing or focused on the issues with Pauline, who we sense in many cases realizes this conflict and uses it to gain that “extra” attention. Phyllis who just doesn’t understand her own daughter thinks that forcing her to attend a few “Cotillion Etiquette” classes will snap her into gear. However, Pauline is clearly at the age where she is trying to sort her life out. Obsessed with becoming a surgeon in the medical field, slight lesbian inclinations, humble to God, and wanting to experience sex for the first time, Pauline lead s us thru her changes and needs culminating in her ultimate action of submissional breakdown.
It’s quite a journey of, on one hand a very tormented outcasted loner, and on the other the life she sees within her head. Clever, determined, and deeply outside the box, Pauline represents the place where most fear to tread. Director Richard Bates Jr. has embraced Excision with full surrender giving reigns over to actress AnnaLynne McCord’s performance. Excison “mostly” lives in a stereotypical urban environment that breaks free from its ordinary existence into full blown horrific visuals. The contrast is deep and extreme which is why this film works so well. Excison is simply a firm slap in the face for the horror genre breathing new invention with every frame. Permeating long after…….. “Excision” sticks like glue.