With all the buzz and b-lister star power which dazzles and practically shoves starbursts through Excision's orbit, I suppose I should feel quite ignorant and out of the cool kids' loop. Excision has been hailed as a masterpiece, something as audacious as to suggest a mash-up between John Hughes, Alejandro Jodorowsky and David Cronenberg.
While I can appreciate the comparisons and can see where folks are coming from with them… I myself found the film so impenetrable, and at times just plain boring, I'll tell you right now: I am not going to be on the bandwagon.
Excision explores the story of a sex- and surgery-obsessed psychotic high school student whose fantasy life is superceded only by the tragedy of her real life. Compulsive scab-picker Pauline (Annalynne McCord) moves from flesh-wounds to out-and-out death-dreams when she's unwillingly plunged into religion-based therapy at her local church by her prim and proper mom (Traci Lords)… but are they only wicked wishes?
Aside from desiring nothing more urgently than to lose her virginity while on her period, acne-ridden Pauline wants to see her doomed sibling Grace (Ariel Winter) get the lung transplant she so desperately needs. On the hunt for unwilling sperm and organ donors, Pauline sails through Excision on a wing and prayer… and a straight razor.
Billed as a surreal black comedy, I personally didn't appreciate the visuals and nor did I find the farce at all humorous. Excision is fallow, sarcastic and clumsy camp; an awkward, hipstery façade of a suburban nightmare which seems to exist only in order to disgust and shock. It's kid's stuff — if you're looking for a tale of teched teens with substance and resonance, opt instead for a repeated viewing of Lucky McKee's May, Todd Solondz's Welcome to the Dollhouse, or anything by Harmony Korine.
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Reviewed by Staci Layne Wilson
Addendum: Having interviewed the director of Excision since seeing the film, I'd like to not modify my opinion so much as to say I hold the film in slightly higher esteem than I did. Richard Bates Jr. talked about the extremely difficult circumstance in which this ultra-low budget movie was made, and on incredibly limited resources too, and also about some of the incidents in his own life which inspired him. I still don't love the movie by any means (and let's face it... it's made to speak to a generation of 20-somethings... that's not me [which isn't to say I can't relate to coming of age films anymore, but there has to be certain universal themes to them in order for me to connect]). If you think the subject matter might appeal to you, and if you like humor involving period-blood, sperm, and pimples and the like, then by all means, get Excised.