Excision (2012)

Excision poster.jpgDirector: Richard Bates, Jr
Running Time: 81 Minutes
Starring: AnnaLynne McCord, Traci Lords, Ariel Winter, Roger Bart, Jeremy Sumpter, Malcolm McDowell, Matthew Gray Gubler, Marlee Matlin, Ray Wise, John Waters

For a good long while, interesting stories have been mined out of a simple statement; teenage life is hell. It's something many can relate to, and is an accurate descriptor for our lead character, Pauline (AnnaLynne McCord). A disturbed teen with dreams of becoming a great surgeon, she garners great enjoyment out of the bloody fantasies she regularly has. But at the heart of it all, she wants to earn the approval of Phyllis (Traci Lords) her mother who she's constantly at odds with, and is ready to go to any extremes for it.

This disastrous relationship is central to the proceedings, and is thankfully fleshed out on both ends of it. Traci Lords does well to show how hard this relationship is on Phyllis also, who tries to connect with her daughter, but is clearly still recovering from her own troubled relationship she had with her own mother. It's moments like this which helps to show her as a fully rounded figure, as opposed to a mere two dimensional caricature. But the films shining star is easily AnnaLynne McCord, whose transformation into the dark role of Pauline is down to more than just the impressive make-up effects. She throws herself into the disturbed character, making a show to set herself apart from her classmates, while nurturing a tender side for her younger sister, whom suffers from cystic fibrosis. No matter what she does, she's an enticing figure that holds your attention.

Marking the feature film debut of Richard Bates Jr, what he brings to screen is a horrific feature, painted with blackly comedic strokes all throughout. The moments of horror are initially limited to the fantasies of our lead, stylishly composed in an eye-popping manner that feels alien to the remainder of the proceedings, while the humour is regularly delivered throughout. By the end of it all, the fantasy and reality elements manage to come together, and all that's left is how utterly haunted you are by the time the end credits roll.

A confident vision brought to screen in an attention grabbing manner, Excision is an impressive marriage of humour and horror. Richard Bates Jr has crafted an utterly stunning debut, which I'd happily call a masterful entry into the genre.