Excision is a gory black comedy. Or maybe it’s a teenage high school flick but filtered through a horror movie lens. It’s like if Todd Solondz decided to do horror (and I mean bloody horror, not his usual awkward situation horror). It’s a film about a teenage misfit who has some wires seriously crossed when it comes to sex, disease and death. And it’s a film that seems to follow the usual high school misfit tropes and patterns – your basic Napoleon Dynamite situations. But unlike Napoleon, Pauline has some pretty hard, sharp edges to her quirks – and her behaviour (although often very funny) is constantly skirting that fine line between amusing oddball and psychopath.
Pauline is played brilliantly by AnnaLynne McCord who looks like a pretty standard Hollywood blonde teenager on her IMDB page. Prior to seeing Excision I would have said the most interesting thing about her was that she has two capital letters in the middle of her name, that’s pretty flashy. But her transformation into Pauline is remarkable – it’s a complete face transplant as far as I can tell. The minute she stops making films with Stephen Seagal and Viva Bianca in them I will follow her career with interest. Traci Lords is also excellent as Pauline’s mum.
Pauline wants to be a surgeon and is clearly an intelligent girl. She also has a younger sister with cystic fibrosis which gives her a incentive to get on with things – she is determined to save her sister’s life. So while she is deep in medical textbooks about surgery and illnesses she is also going through a rather uncomfortable puberty as a difficult teen. Most of her problems seem to stem from the fact that she is undergoing sexual awakening while at the same time practising lung transplants on birds – in her head sex and death are getting conflated. Lurid necrophiliac fantasies and graphic, gory, symbolism abounds in dream sequences that are one of the highlights of the film. shot perfectly by first time director Richard Bates Jr. She really is one messed up girl, perhaps it is too much to hope things will end with her performing a dance number and winning over the school.
I think Excision is much more than the horror-comedy tag lets on. I found it very funny, uncomfortable, and intelligent. There are some deeper issues and motivations at work and AnnaLyne (why is that capital L there? So flashy) really makes Pauline more than just a two dimensional character. I watched Excision a while ago now but recently decided I really ought to write it up because it is one of my favourite films of last year.