Blu-ray Review: EXCISION Is Worth Your Time & Money
I hadn't heard a whole lot about it leading up to its Blu-ray/DVD release this week, but all of the right people seem to be putting their weight behind it. So, it was with a fair amount of confidence that I took it for a spin last night in preparation for this review. When it comes to checking out any film that has the support of the horror community behind it, there's always the nagging fear that it's just going to be awful and someone just knows the director and is afraid to tell them. However, in the case of Excision, what little hype there is behind the film is earned. This is a fantastic little film that takes and wears its influences on its sleeve and does them proud. Definitely worth checking out!
Pauline is just a teenaged girl searching for her place in the world. Sure, she fantasizes about ambiguous lesbian blood-soaked trysts more in the vein (ha!) of Elizabeth Bathory than Catherine Deneuve in The Hunger, but she's still trying to discover her sexuality, so no judging. She lives with her cookie cutter nuclear family, a domineering mother in Traci Lords who plays it pretty straight for once, an emasculated father in Roger Bart, and a preppy but loving sister who just happens to suffer from cystic fibrosis in Ariel Winter. As adolescents do, Pauline begins to experiment with her ideas of sensuality and her blood lust, eventually roping a boy into deflowering her in a particularly unpleasant way for him.
She isn't the belle of the ball, in fact, she seems to go out of her way to make herself physically unappealing, but teenaged boys aren't exactly known for their discerning taste in sexual available women, are they? This episode leads to a confrontation with the boy's girlfriend and eventually leads to some mild revenge fantasy fulfillment, all of which is well deserved. Pauline's mental state is in perpetual decay, and eventually she hits a breaking point that is among the most gruesome set-pieces put on film this year, somehow made even more gruesome by the fact that the acts are carried out by a girl. Double standards, just can't get around them.
Excision is more than just a gooey horror film, it is a wonderfully literate exploration of the feminine mystique as well as a tribute to some of the greatest exploitation films of the last forty years. The not only features Traci Lords (Cry-Baby, Not of This Earth, and, um, other movies...) as the god-fearing mother, but also has John Waters in a bit role as a priest in which he doesn't ham AT ALL (much more effective than his use in Mangus!), Ray Wise (Leland Palmer of Twin Peaks fame) as the jaded principal of Pauline's school, Malcolm McDowell as Pauline's taskmaster of a science teacher, and Marlee Matlin in a wonderful blink and you'll miss it role as the school's receptionist. This is all part of director Richard Bates, Jr.'s homage to the films which are so clearly responsible for Excision's sense of style and themes. In fact, if I had to label the film I'd say that Excision is the film John Waters would make if he had more visual talent.
I loved this movie, there isn't a misplaced frame in the whole thing. Excision runs only 81 minutes, which is exactly how long it needs to be. I can't recommend this movie enough, if you're looking for a great little exploitation film that's equal parts Todd Solondz, John Waters, and Matthew Barney, you've come to the right place.
Excision comes to Blu-ray from Anchor Bay and looks and sounds excellent. No big discussion here, it's a low budget, shot on digital feature, and it's transition from digital source to digital home video looks about as perfect as they come. The soundtrack is also excellent, though unspectacular. It comes with a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 surround track (they still make those?), and while the surrounds are pretty quite, the dialogue sounds great, and that's what you want with this film. There is only one extra, and that is a very interesting audio commentary with the director and star of the film. Both love their baby and are proud to see it's birth on home video where more people are likely to see it than on the festival circuit. There are some cool tidbits shared, but overall it is a pretty sedate track.
This film is currently $15 over at Amazon, and it's worth every penny. Grab it!