Film Review: "Excision" Writer Richard Bates Jr. Pairs Beauty And Gore
The film begins with a matted looking girl named Pauline (AnnaLynne McCord) who wakes from a dream about surgery and excision. She attends a school where she is visibly the outcast and does herself no favors by insulting the popular girls and attempting to steal their boyfriends. At home we are introduced to her family, which includes the strict mother Phyllis (Traci Lords), the lackadaisical husband, Bob, and the terminally ill but kind sister Grace, (Modern Family's Ariel Winter). The film follows the disturbed Pauline and her snide outbursts as she facilitates the only thing she is passionate about, helping her sister.
There is not one joke cracked in the entire movie. Rather, it is the conviction to which characters state their opinions that tickle the funny bone. Whether it be McCord's character's severe awkwardness or Lord's character's blatant racism, the comedy gushes out as much as the blood in this film. The drama is also very intense with Phyllis playing a mother who has two daughters, one she dislikes and one she knows she will soon have to let go. The drama laced with comedy is one of the film's strengths.
However, "Excision" has an excess of gore that may hamper more than help the movie. There are cutaways a plenty of McCord's dream sequences where her fantasies display a plethora of gore and nudity. Writer Richard Bates Jr. aims to make the bloody sequences beautiful as opposed to violent, but this beauty is certainly in the eyes of the beholder.
Bates takes pride in these scenes saying, "I advertised the movie this way. I enjoy disturbing people. I enjoy watching an audience cringe in unanimity as the protagonist does something gross."
Bates admits that the movie can be seen as a montage of the shame he experienced growing up in Virginia. The audience can deduce that his high school experience was colorful indeed.
The casting of the movie also mixes a range of actors into a winning formula. The selection of Traci Lords came under the most scrutiny due to her past in the adult industry. Bates said his father knew of Lords only for her adult film career over 20 years ago. Yet her versatility as an actress should not be questioned as she gives a moving performance. Lords draws on some abusive past experiences to portray her character insecurities. Bates deserves credit for personalizing the script to play to the actors strengths, with actors like John Waters, Jon Wise and Malcolm McDowell making notable cameos.
Excision should be applauded for bringing to America a movie that shies away from the proven formula of a brainless action film where a hero triumphs over evil. Bates likened the film to a love letter written to his many counter-culture influences like David Cronenberg, John Hughes, Dario Argento and Alejandro Jodorowsky as he pursued a career in filming. Yet, this movie seems to have missed an opportunity by maximizing the gore to scare away a wider audience.
Viewers have given Bates everything from praises to death threats. To warrant death threats Bates must have mustered a film that bucks the trend. To find out whether this film is a collage of comedy, drama and horror or a brainless gore fest you will have to watch and find out.
Look for "Excision" showtimes here.
Reach Staff Reporter Byron Tseng by here.