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Film review: Excision


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Stories of isolated youth and teen angst are a well-worn cinematic path. Basically teenage outcasts just need to fit-in to be happy. If only they’d change their hair and get some new clothes everything would be OK!

ExcisionExcision is something completely different – a horrible glimpse at the world of real outsiders, that no amount of new clobber or makeovers can cure.

AnnaLynne McCord’s (her from 90210) Pauline is a true delusional outcast. Pauline dissects road kill. Pauline fantasises about performing surgery on strangers. For Pauline sex and blood fantasies melt into one. She disturbs her parents and her schoolmates. The only person who understands her is her younger sister Grace (Ariel Winter) who suffers from cystic fibrosis.

Pauline becomes convinced that the way to mend the rift in her family relationships is to perform a risky operation on her sister...

Excision is a stylish horror that sees director Richard Bates Jr creating a visual feast with his directorial debut and a cast that slots nicely into the claustrophobic world that feeds Pauline’s warped delusions.

McCord’s performance is worryingly natural, as if her characters violent delusions are second nature.

Initially the horror manifests in Pauline’s daydreams, with the rest playing as the monotonous drudge of daily life. It is this that makes Excisions slow build-up to its startlingly awful conclusion all the more effective. The viewer will suspect the worst but be lulled into a false sense of security.

Excision's down-side is the lack of empathy it creates for any of its character. It is hard to care about anyone’s predicament – Pauline’s mother is losing her daughter to psychosis but is an overbearing witch with a superiority complex, her father is trod-on but spineless and the ever-sick sister features so passively in the piece as to barely matter to the overall atmosphere of the film.

It is with this that Excision fails to have as big an impact as it was clearly aiming for, creating a sense of horror that simply becomes easy to expect and accept. The lack of psychological tension creates a numb viewing experience.

But maybe this is the point. In a desensitised world, Bates Jr has created a horror that doesn’t play to the senses but simply serves up twisted gore as par-for-the-course.

As takes on alienated youth go, Excision is one of the most startlingly brutal offerings ever put to celluloid but it lacks the depth of truly great psychological horror.

For a pure piece of b-movie, cinematic weirdness add Excision to your viewing list.

Excision is on limited cinema release from November 2nd.

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