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EXCISION (BLU-RAY)
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Reviewed by: Andre Manseau

Directed by: Richard Bates

Starring:
AnnaLynne McCord
Traci Lords
Roger Bart
Malcolm McDowell
Ariel Winter

Movie:  
star star star star
Extras:  
star star star star
Overall:  
star star star star
What's it about
Pauline is a girl who's struggling through adolescence. She lives with her oppressive, overbearing mother, her useless father and the only family member she truly cares about, her little sister who's afflicted with Cystic Fibrosis. Thing is, Pauline's a bit off..she has vivid visions of horrific surgical/sexual procedures and she's beginning to want to experiment on herself and others.
Is it good movie?
I popped in Excision expecting something along the lines of The Cell in terms of abstract disgust and insanity. Instead, what I wound up with was a twisted sort of coming-of-age story that sure didn't pull many punches. Plus, it's filled with cameos from awesome performers like Malcolm McDowell, Marlee Matlin, John Waters and the great Ray Wise!

It should be noted that if you're looking for a flat out "crazy girl gets better and begins looking more attractive" sort of story, you shouldn't boogie with Excision. It's not the kind of story with a path that winds up with everything rosy and people learning their important lessons. If you are looking for redemption, you might want to turn away.

Excision is more of a glimpse into someone who's dark and tortured and more than slightly off their rocker as they begin to take more risks. An examination of a fractured and broken family that is barely being held together by an overworked and overprotective meddling Mom (played by Traci Lords). Dad (an underused but dead-on Roger Bart) is useless, while Grace (Ariel Winter) is trying to be as "normal" as possible while growing up with Cystic Fibrosis.

The normally gorgeous Annalynne McCord plays Pauline, our tortured and twisted soul. This is a brave and fearless performance, though it is slightly overdone at times, to the point where it can lend the film a bit of a cartoony feel. Dissheveled and awkward in the real world, a perverse queen of sorts in her surgical fantasies, this role certainly required some heavy lifting and for the most part is done well.

Traci Lords also deserves a lot of credit for her admittedly multifaceted portrayal of Pauline's mother. She can be ungodly frustrating, selfish and unfair, but at the same time there are moments where the viewer will unquestionably sympathize with her. At the end of the day, she really loves her daughter and her good intentions and genuine care do shine through in her performance.

As for the pacing of the film, it does suffer a bit. The whole thing does feel a little thin and even at less than 90 minutes, tends to come off a bit stretched. I didn't find myself getting bored, but the movie does reach a bit. Let's just say that once you pick up on the direction the film is trying to take you in, it becomes an almost foregone conclusion until the end. I also had a few issues with wondering what kind of tone Excision was trying to present- was it trying to be a dark comedy, a broad comic-style tale, or a vicious gorefest? Things shift around a bit and seem slightly unfocused.

With all that being said, I definitely enjoyed Excision and think that it hit its marks when necessary. The family relationship is a bit skewed and exaggerated from time to time, but the love between Pauline and her sister Grace (played by the delightful and talented Ariel Winter) is real and their relationship interesting. Ariel's suffering from a likely terminal disease, and Pauline only wants to help. It's believable and palpable and helps the movie quite a bit.

In terms of the nastiness, there's a fair amount for such a low budget film. The horror/surgery/sex fantasties Pauline has are loaded with disgusting imagery and nasty thoughts, and the "real world" has some pretty gross moments too (let's just say that Pauline wants her first time to be during a pretty specific time of month). If you're looking for seas of red, you'll find them here.

Everything leads up to a fever pitch moment with a character or two going way off the deep end until there's almost no chance to come back. The film ends during a really tense, feverish and terrifying scene that bizarrely demonstrates a sense of family and love and I'll say no more than that. The ending is both chilling and effective, to say the least.
Video / Audio
Video comes in 2:35:1 widescreen and looks fantastic, with great color, details and an overall excellent presentation.

Audio is also excellent, presented in a TrueHD 5.1 surround mix. It's clear, well balanced and sounds great.
The Extras
There's only one extra here and that's a commentary track with director Richard Bates and Annalynn McCord, and although it won't blow you away, it's very informative with just about every aspect of the film- it gets pretty technical. Well done.
Last Call
In some ways, I was pretty taken aback by Excision and I don't even really know how to describe it. It's a gory, disturbing coming of age drama that I sure won't forget anytime soon. Because it gets so odd and extreme, I wouldn't recommend it for everyone, but it's definitely a positive review on my end!
ARROW IN THE HEAD'S RATING SYSTEM
star star star star I'D BUTCHER MY FAMILY TO SEE THIS AGAIN
star star star HANG ME BUT I DUG IT A LOT
star star AN OK WAY TO KILL TWO HOURS
star JUST SLING AN ARROW IN MY HEAD AND LET ME DIE IN PEACE

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