Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Review: Excision

Rating: 18
Duration: 81 mins

Besides a mere trailer for what can only be described as batshit horror/drama with a splash of erotica, there’s been little else in terms of marketing or promotion for Excision, other than the semi-recognisible face from E4’s 90210. AnnaLynne McCord fronts this modern Carrie-like pseudo-high school drama/horror, with a quite magnificent performance as oddball teen Pauline.

The story is the vague subconsciousness and reality of a girl with a particularly disturbing psychological imbalance, but devoid of any paranormal powers per se. She is, however, keen on the study of medicine and all things surgical, with a somewhat hazy ambition to one day enter said profession (as a surgeon). However, her clear disdain for all things academic deems such goals unrealistic.

But this is not to say Pauline isn’t without passion. Her keen interest in dissecting dead birds in her bedroom and tasting their blood reflects the film's themes, especially a recurring visualisation of blood, gore, mutilation and sexualisation – key factors that dominate her pimpled adolescent existence as she embarks on a sexual awakening that includes a curious fascination as she begins to menstruate.

There are two sides to Pauline’s character, and indeed, the narrative within the film. One is her on-the-verge-of-maturity, transitional state of girl to woman (reality), and the other being her subconscious: a much darker side that haunts her dreams with imagery of body horror gratuity and intrigued eroticism; a side that threatens to spill into real life. Aside from a Carrie comparison, her family life mirrors that of another angstful deviant: Donnie Darko. A domineering mother (Traci Lords) and placid father (Roger Bart) only antagonises a youngster plagued with more psychological issues than her ignorant household can imagine. Chastisement is a daily occurrence, until the realisation of the film's climax clicks, and the true horrors of Pauline’s mind finally unveils and spills over.

For a film that’ll puzzle many by the mere mention of its title, it's extremely well executed. The acting, especially McCord's superlative turn, is of a consistently high standard, and the script constantly intrigues, darkly amuses and feels fetishly fresh in its approach. Pauline’s character is complex and layered, and perhaps offers one of the best female performances of 2012; not that the Academy will recognise it, but they seriously should.

As unforgiving and perverse as Excision may appear, once you delve into the troubled mind dealing with numerous mid-teen issues such as angst, rejection, puberty and resentment, you begin to see the exquisite excellence of this extraordinary, if not hugely grotesque, beast.