Directed by Richard Bates Jr.
“Can you contract a sexually transmitted disease by having sex with a dead person?”
Wrapping up this year at Sundance is the gruesome little entry Excision from BXR Productions, which is directed by Richard Bates, Jr. Excision is a tough number to dive into as it is unique in about every way imaginable. Bates does a phenomenal job converting his short with the same name that ran in a few festivals back in 2008 and 2009 into this fantastic feature length film. Excision is as intelligent as it is disturbing, with scripted dialogue as deep as the Mariana Trench. Bates put a lot of heart into his work to immerse the audience with his surreal vision for the entire length of the feature.
The whole story revolves around Pauline (AnnaLynne McCord), a disturbed and delusional teenager who is good at one thing: alienating everyone she meets. She accomplishes this by simply being her own whacked out self. Nobody is immune to her repulsion, from her domineering mother to every person she talks to in school. In hopes of helping her sister who has Cystic Fibrosis, Pauline aspires to one day become a surgeon; however, her desires go much further than just her future career. Nightly while she sleeps, she has erotic dreams, but these visions are not normal sexual fantasies; they are more like obscene nightmares including, but not limited to, necrophilia.
Pauline next decides the day has come for her to act on these fantasies and lose her virginity. This is yet another disappointment that sets her spiraling downward, further into the abyss of her own mind. Soon after that her sister’s ailment worsens, and Pauline decides that she is best qualified to perform her sister’s lung transplant in order to redeem herself in the eyes of her mother and everyone else around her.
Bates was spot on in selecting his cast for film. Lords displays great talent as the overpowering mother, and Roger Bart is wonderful as the spineless father. I must say, however, that McCord was quite possibly bred to play the role of Pauline. In speaking to Bates, we found out that she wanted the role bad enough to start chopping her hair off during the interview process. This is some dedication if you ask me. Aside from the main roles, it cannot go without mention that there are some great supporting actors as well, including John Water, who plays a priest/psychiatrist who tries to help Pauline get a grip on herself but fails miserably in his attempt to do so.
Excision is wonderfully shot and contains many cut scenes, Pauline’s dreams specifically, that are eerie to say the least, one of which is very reminiscent of one of the Human Centipede 2 posters. Although not over-the-top gory, these moments may cause a bit of bile to reach the top of some viewers’ throats. There is also a lot of story covered and fantastic character development that we rarely see in a film of this type on this kind of budget. Tack on a fair amount of laughs and a subliminal soundtrack on top of all this, and you have a very well manufactured piece of work that has something for every lover of horror.
Excision is yet another example of what a meager budget can really do in our genre if the appropriate amount of effort is put in the right places. This is one you don’t want to miss; in fact you may become more intelligent by viewing it.
4 1/2 out of 5