There are elements of misfit horror thrillers that are strangely comforting. Sure the outsider has a tough time at school/college/home and never quite fits within the cookie-cutter mold of normality, but eventually, after some dramatic changes to their life they’ll find their niche, they home, their comfort. Excision is not that kind of film. At all.
Pauline (AnnaLynn McChord) is an outsider. She doesn’t look like a normal teenage girl and she doesn’t behave like a teenage girl. What she is however is witty, strong-willed and prone to dreams with hints of necrophilia. She aspires to be a surgeon and to have sex, and she goes about trying to achieve both with as little help from anyone else as possible. While she pursues both achievements with a fierce, individual passion, she is aware that the clock is ticking and her sister is slowly suffering and will die from her debilitating cystic fibrosis.
Making nods to classic horror films like Carrie, writer/director Richard Bates Jr. seems content to completely blow away preconceptions and tropes of the genre at every touch and turn. Common scenes are presented throughout, with the obvious and predictable conclusions subverted. Even the casting plays with the audience, with ex-porn star Traci Lords playing the religious, over-bearing mother, while Pauline herself is played with gusto by the normally glamourous AnnaLynn McChord. Any element of beauty is removed and it’s a physically impressive transformation for someone who previous claim to fame was her stint on Beverley Hills 90210, but if Excision is anything to go by, she could well be a huge star.
This well-constructed horror is quite unlike anything else currently available, yet it feels strangely familiar. There are brief glimpses of the darkest of black humour, but these only punctuate the oncoming catastrophe as Bates toys with his audience at every touch and turn. The key is in the details and keen-eyed viewers will know where the narrative is leading, however if you don’t pay attention Excision’s final scenes will come like a bolt out of the blue and if not fully prepared will linger long in the memory.
Bizarre, uncomfortable and deeply disturbing, Excision is a rare breed of horror that refuses to play by the rules of the genre and doesn’t care if you have a good time watching it or not. It’s goal is to upset and horrify and in this regard it is a rousing success.