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A surgery-obsessed teen struggles with her outcast status while plotting to lose her virginity and save her sister from the ravaging effects of cystic fibrosis in this genre-bending shocker from writer/director Richard Bates, Jr. Pauline (Annalynne McCord) is a pretty young girl whose penchant for picking scabs has escalated into a fanatical obsession with the flesh. Recognizing this, Pauline's stern mother insists that the young girl visit the church therapist for counseling. Incensed at the prospect of being judged by a religious hypocrite, Pauline only delves deeper into her visceral fantasies while concocting an ingenious plan to impress her mother. Meanwhile, as Pauline begins devising ways to combat her younger sister's cystic fibrosis, her adolescent hormones kick into overdrive.
For more about Excision and the Excision Blu-ray release, see Excision Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on October 18, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.0 out of 5.
Director: Richard Bates, Jr.
Writer: Richard Bates, Jr.
Starring: Annalynne McCord, Traci Lords, Ariel Winter, Roger Bart, Jeremy Sumpter, John Waters (I)
» See full cast & crew
Excision Blu-ray Review
Straight up crazy.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, October 18, 2012
Writer/Director Richard Bates, Jr.'s Excision is an exercise in the cinematically bizarre. The movie strives, it would seem, to capture the mental instability of youth raised in an environment conducive to anything but normalcy, or perhaps the movie is simply telling the tale of a demented mind's effort to rationally support irrational choices. In truth, the movie seems to fall somewhere in between. The character lives in a home occupied by a largely mindless father, an overbearing mother, and a sickly sister. The character tries to find comfort, approval, and forgiveness through prayer, and she fantasizes the morbid and excuses the visions as both pleasure and the foretelling of destiny. To be sure, Excision is a whacked-out experience that's going to mean drastically different things to people with wildly differing outlooks on life. The movie is sure to engender feelings of curiosity, nausea, anger, and delight. If nothing else it's completely off-the-wall different, which is always worth a few points in what is largely a cookie-cutter cinema landscape. Be warned, however, that those with more traditional tastes but also an appetite for the unique will want to pass this one by. Open minded individuals, however, with stronger constitutions and reduced chances of feeling offended should most definitely step in and open up Excision for a bloody and detailed look-see.
Pauline (AnnaLynne McCord) doesn't live the teenage fantasy life. But then again, who does? She's certainly not little-miss-perfect skin, her hair isn't just so, and she's definitely not the teacher's pet. She lives a troubled home life. Her overbearing mother (Traci Lords) favors her prettier but sickly second daughter Grace (Ariel Winter) and scolds Pualine at every opportunity. She also forces Pauline into a life she doesn't want, making her go to cotillion and receive counsel from the family preacher. Pauline favors living by her own devices, codes, and ways. She wants to lose her virginity while on her period and dreams of becoming a surgeon. And take that "dreams" literally. She fantasizes about blood-soaked corpses and the grotesque surgeries she'll one day perform on them. As Pauline struggles in the day-to-day rituals of life, her fantasies become more complex. Can she withstand the urge to practice what she dreams?
As noted, Excision is at least cinema novelty if nothing else, though it certainly goes to great graphical and harrowing emotional lengths to be so. The picture captures the morbid imagination from its opening shot in which a girl in a heightened state of excitement and, seemingly, sexual arousal sits across from a bleeding and obviously in-pain person. And so begins a bizarre tale of a wannabe surgeon struggling to find herself in a world in which she does not, and seemingly cannot, fit. The movie explores various reasons behind her behavior that's a strange combination of introverted and extroverted. Do her struggles stem from a genuine desire to better the world, a means of self-discovery, the result of an overbearing mother and a largely absent-in-spirit father, poor skin, her status as a school outcast, or is it something far deeper or, perhaps, a combination of all of the above? The real joy of Excision is trying to sort out what it is that defines Pauline. The performances are largely excellent and overcome a script that's clever and mysterious but never quite absolutely sure of itself. The question that arises, then, is whether the journey is worth the experiences along the way.
Excision doesn't just dabble in grotesque imagery and gut-churning terrors, it embraces them, and often in a way that's both highly stylized but also visually repulsive. The movie includes scenes such as one in which a girl sexually embraces and slathers herself atop a body with a half-decapitated head. Obviously this isn't material suitable for kindergarten class, and it will take a special kind of cinephile to get through the movie, let alone cherish it. The movie aims for edgy and awkward, cheerful and morbid, and lucid and demented all at once. It may be the most unique hodgepodge of styles and feelings ever captured on film, but that doesn't make it a great movie. Intriguing, certainly, but not necessarily good. The payoff is halfway surprising but the movie leaves audiences in limbo and only to guess where it all goes next. That's not a bad thing, considering how much of the movie is built on the workings of the imagination in the process, but some might leave Excision more frustrated than satisfied, even if they've embraced its style and oddities. The picture does drag at times, but if it does one thing well it's that it never fails to shock and surprise. Whether those feelings equal praise or revulsion is up to each individual viewer, but suffice it to say this is cinema at its most unique and cutting edge, quite literally.
Excision Blu-ray, Video Quality
Excision's 1080p transfer is a real looker. The HD video photography offers a very clean and sterile appearance which enhances the dream sequences and doesn't hinder the real-life segments. The movie opens with a very bright scene, defined by a blue backdrop, white garments, and red blood. The glossy façade adds to the impact, as does the clarity and brilliant color reproduction. Real-world scenes are very well detailed -- complex facial lines, makeup patterns, clothing textures, and all sorts of niceties come across clearly and robustly -- and play with a natural sharpness and clarity that's as good as any similarly photographed movie out there. Colors are perhaps a hair warm in these scenes, but balance is exceptional and, generally, the various shades take on a bright and real appearance. Black levels are deep and flesh tones do range a bit form pale to golden, but usually within the film's visual contexts. There is some light banding across large monochromatic backdrops, such as walls. On the whole, this is a stellar image from Anchor Bay.
Excision Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Excision's Dolby TrueHD 5.1 lossless soundtrack never misses a beat. The presentation is effective in every category, delivering crisp and accurate elements across the entire stage. The track is home to some well-defined and mood-critical ambience. A collection of random classroom sounds -- squeaking desks, coughs, shifting students -- help to create a genuine atmosphere. Chatty students and slamming lockers give sonic definition to hallway scenes. Light-to-heavy effects such as a car's seatbelt warning alarm or Pauline's mother's honking of the car horn come through with realistic presence and clarity. Heavy, muffled bass blaring from a car stereo sends some accurate jolts through the listening area. The movie is largely a dialogue-intenseive experience, however. The spoken word is absolutely clear and perfectly defined in any environment and tenor. This track isn't exactly one that will dazzle audiences, but the fine integration of environmental subtleties and perfect dialogue mean that listeners will hear this one just as intended.
Excision Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The only supplement included with this Blu-ray release of Excision is an audio commentary track with Writer/Director Richard Bates, Jr. and Actor AnnaLynne McCord. Unfortunately Richard Bates, Jr.'s short film on which Excision is based is not included.
Excision Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Excision most definitely isn't for everyone. It's a unique cinema experience about a troubled life and morbid fantasies that manifest themselves in an unbelievable conclusion that's repulsive but that fits the narrative beautifully. It's a challenging movie, a bore at times, but sharply acted and intriguing if nothing else. It blends stylization with hardcore graphic gore as well any movie out there and combines a sometimes cheery appearance with grotesque visuals in imaginative and also revolting ways. In a word, it's interesting. Anchor Bay's Blu-ray release of Excision offers dazzling HD video, a fine lossless audio track, and only one supplement. Worth a rental for the curious, and fans should have no reservations in making a purchase.
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Excision Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Exclusive Giveaway: Excision - October 8, 2012
Blu-ray.com and Anchor Bay Entertainment are offering three members an opportunity to win a copy of Excision, starring Annalynne McCord, Traci Lords, Ariel Winter, Roger Bart, Jeremy Sumpter, John Waters and Malcolm McDowell. The graphic horror-thriller comes to ...
• Excision Blu-ray - July 30, 2012
In the fall, Anchor Bay Home Entertainment will bring Excision to Blu-ray. This graphically violent horror-thriller watches as the medical aspirations of a teenage girl (AnnaLynne McCord, Fired Up!) slowly turn homicidal. Excision is expected to street on October ...
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