Reviewed by Alicia Glass
Review Rating: 8
A disturbed teen girl just coming into her own sexuality with aspirations to become a great surgeon, struggles with a domineering mother, a terminally ill sister, a lackluster father and the strangeness of her own world.
It’s a hard movie to describe really, but it vaguely reminded me of a cross between that really sick and underrated gem May and the more stunning visual (and homicidal) aspects of The Cell. Pauline (AnnaLynne McCord of the new 90210, wrap your brain around that) has just recently turned 18 and decides, with all the subtlety of a brick, to lose her virginity to a chosen boy from her high school. Already being plagued, if that’s the right word, with visions of quite literal bloodlust turned to sexual fantasies, Pauline turns her first sexual encounter into something that that poor boy is unlikely to ever forget in his entire lifetime. Pauline has very blunt one-sided conversations with God, is forced into counseling from her local Pastor whom she delights in bothering as much as she can, and then there’s the required family dinners. Mother (Traci Lords, oh the irony abounds) is this blond polished prudish makeup’d thing who chews into Father every chance she gets, delights in the girlish things she can get sister Grace to do, and tries desperately to do the same with Pauline, with some very upsetting results. Father (Roger Bart, wow) is quiet and permissive, rarely talking back to anyone in his family especially Mother, letting his daughters do usually exactly as they please and avoiding confrontation at all costs. And then there’s Pauline’s sister Grace (Ariel Winter), who’s suffering the effects of cystic fibrosis and dying by inches. Grace is the one person in the entire world who accepts Pauline just as she is, who never ever receives a scathing word from Pauline and indeed, seems to be the only one Pauline loves in a way she simply can’t explain.
The film keeps having these moments where various characters, especially Mother, will reach out to Pauline in some way, and you fully expect there to be the sappy hugging and lovey background music. Instead, what falls from Paulines’ mouth in response cuts sharper than any scalpel, seemingly delighting in flaying away at the thin layer of societies politesse to the rot hiding just below the surface – for everyone. There is a beautiful moment for the demon-under-the-skin to show herself for Pauline, when after her home is toilet-papered and spray-painted in fairly common high school antics, Pauline rampages in the hallway and busts open a girls nose against a locker. Who hasn’t wanted to do that to that –expletive deleted– in high school at some point in their life? Unfortunately, Pauline’s response to those somewhat common high school antics (one would think her parents would be more pissed about a penis spray-painted on their houses front wall) gets her suspended from school. Which leaves her more time to obsess and be obsessed over, whereas Mother wants her to suddenly somehow poof! become a proper little lady, Pauline wants to jump start her career as a surgeon and save her sister in the bargain. How best to do that? By chloroforming the smarmy jump-rope girl next door into a donor of new lungs for her dying sister, that’s how. Father is given knock-out tea and tied up (I thought she might’ve killed him personally, you just never know with this movie), the one person in the world who truly non-judgementally loves Pauline is lovingly placed on a makeshift operating table in the garage of all places, and Mother is treated to a breathless explanation of what the would-be surgeon has done, all to gain her approval, when she comes home. It is truly a beautifully psychotic moment.
For the epicly strange movie lovers out there, Excision dives ecstatically into the crimson blood and bone-white world of one truly depraved teenagers mind.