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Anchor Bay Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 10/16/2012
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 10/11/2012
Most everyone who is a sports fan has participated in the phenomena know as "Monday Morning Quarterbacking" or "Armchair Quarterbacking", where one yells at their favorite sports team, offering advice as if they were the best coach in the world. We do the same thing with movies as well. How many times have you said, "It would have been better if they would have ______." We all do it. There are even people in Hollywood called "Script Doctors" who get paid to do it, as they take screenplays and make them better. (My wife and I would make great script doctors. Her ending for Event Horizon is genius and I'm rather proud of how I would have concluded Urban Legend.) In this vein, the makers of Excision must have watched Napoleon Dynamite and said, "This movie would be better if the main character was female and instead of goofy, she was disgusting." And thus we get a movie which shows that girls can be outcasts too.
AnnaLynne McCord stars in Excision as Pauline, a very strange teenager. She lives with her mother, Phyllis (Traci Lords), who is high-strung and domineering, her father, Bob (Roger Bart), who is meek and distant, and her sister, Grace (Ariel Winter), who is nice and has Cystic Fibrosis. With her unibrow, acne, unkempt hair and clothes, it's clear that Pauline doesn't care about her appearance. Nor is she concerned with fitting in at school. When she's not having vivid Technicolor fantasies in which she's covered in blood, Pauline likes to learn about science, as she wants to be a doctor. Phyllis has taken Pauline to Father William (John Waters) for counseling, but it hasn't helped. The girl continues to do very bizarre things like acting out in school, seducing boys, and taunting the neighbors. Is Pauline simply mis-guided or is she truly dangerous?
Excision is based on a short film of the same name from Writer/Director Richard Bates, Jr. I can actually see how this movie would work as a short, but as a full-length feature film, it doesn't fare as well. The reason for this is easily stated: Bates has created one of the most annoying characters in cinema history. Again, the comparison between Pauline and Napoleon Dynamite is very apt. Both have trouble relating to others (almost to the point of being anti-social), both seem to have no regard for their personal appearance, both have issues with romantic relationships, and both have "unique" hobbies. The difference is that Napoleon Dynamite appeared in a comedy and therefore his rude behavior eventually came across as goofy and we learned that he was actually caring. Pauline is simply annoying and she goes out of her way to alienate everyone in her life. She has no redeeming qualities and I can't see how anyone in the audience could identify or side with her, save for the very bloody finale.
Pauline's erratic behavior gives the movie a very episodic feel and there's no real narrative flow. Essentially, Excision is simply made up of one scene after another where Pauline does something weird and irritating. Writing the above synopsis was a challenge as once you get beyond the description of Pauline and her family, there isn't much of a story. If you were to tell someone what this movie was about, you would simply find yourself listing all of the things which Pauline does. These scenes are juxtaposed with the fantasy/dream sequences which combine blood and sexual imagery. However, these are flawed as AnnaLynne McCord clearly had a no nudity clause in her contract, but she's doing all sorts of risque things while wrapped in gauze. If you can't be naked in your own fantasies, when can you be? (Although kudos to McCord for playing down her natural beauty for this role.)
Bates also has difficulty creating any sense of tension in the film. Based on Pauline's behavior and the imagery involved, we know that something bad is going to happen. Heck, the movie could have been called "Something Bad is Going to Happen". And I have to say, when the "something bad" is revealed in the finale, it is creative and does make Pauline's character seem less shallow. However, it's not until the last few minutes that we are given any clear-cut clues as to what Pauline is up to. She does so many bad things throughout the movie that we become numb to her shenanigans and any suspense or curiosity created in the beginning of the film dissipates about halfway through.
Excision is somewhat akin to Lucky McKee's May, as both show that girls can be monsters too. But, Bates seems to want to create an instant cult film with his feature debut (trotting out John Waters as a priest is a dead give-away for this) and we all know that you can't make a cult film. Again, I wish that the "Excision" short had been included on the Blu-ray Disc, as I can see that being much successful than this bloody, but dull movie.
Excision would make a great "before" Clearasil ad on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Anchor Bay Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 30 Mbps. The image is very sharp and clear, showing no distracting grain and no defects from the source material. The clarity of this HD transfer is made evident in the very first shot when we can see the bumps on McCords forehead...when she's not in her Pauline costume. The colors look very good, most notably those in the fantasy sequences and the image is never overly dark or bright. The picture is detailed and shows a nice amount of depth. The Disc carries a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 audio track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 3.0 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The surround sound and stereo effects are very strong during the fantasy sequences, as bizarre sounds fill the rear speakers. These effects are nicely detailed and show good separation. We also get significant subwoofer effects here. The stereo effects aren't as strong, but a few highlight sounds from off-screen.
The lone extra on the Excision Blu-ray Disc is an AUDIO COMMENTARY from Writer/Director Richard Bates, Jr. and AnnaLynne McCord.
Review Copyright 2012 by Mike Long