Pauline has other desires and immoral doesn’t begin to describe them. Pauline longs to be a surgeon someday but it’s hardly a dream of hers to help mankind. Pauline’s dreams are filled with psycho-sexual imagery of necrophilia. When she asks her biology teacher if you can contract a sexually transmitted disease by having sex with a dead person, it tells you just about everything you need to know about her. Her dreams become more debauched, as she sees herself among masses of corpses, bathing in pools of blood, sending her into orgasmic glee.
Those around her that bully and treat her bad soon become the subject of her dreams and hallucinations. Her mother constantly berates her while her brow-beaten father generally tries to ignore everything. The only affection that Pauline has in her life is for her younger sister who suffers from Cystic Fibrosis which is getting worth by the day, finally leading to her requiring a lung transplant in order to survive. This leads into one of the most indescribable shock endings you are ever likely to see.
Excision boasts a remarkable cast of supporting actors including Traci Lords as the mom; Marlee Matlin as the Cotillion teacher; Malcolm McDowell as one of Pauline’s teachers; Ray Wise as the school principal; and John Waters as the church Pastor. While their roles are relatively short, they are all spot on and add their own unique influences. Lords is outstanding as the exasperated mother who is trying to turn Pauline into the perfect daughter. Wise also shines as the smiling, used car salesmen of a Principal. And John was a brilliant casting choice as the snarky Pastor who engages Pauline in tit-for-tat debate over ambiguous morals.
Still despite these outstanding supporting roles, the film hinges on the performance of AnnaLynee McCord as Pauline. It’s her film from beginning to end. She is almost in every scene in the film and without a strong performance from her, the film would collapse. She plays the role to perfection…never going over the top to become a caricature. She brings a sense of both dogged determination and childlike vulnerability to her performance. In her everyday life she is unappealing and frankly a bit repellent. Yet when she is in her dreams she becomes an object of adoration, a stunning, immoral dark beauty of gore that captivates the senses. While she is an extremely attractive woman she goes throughout the film sans makeup, face dotted with acne, hair dirty and unkempt, all of which makes her transformation that much more stunning.
Excision can be a bit slow paced but first-time Richard Bates, Jr., Director quickly rocks you back to attention. Not a film for the squeamish and definitely not a date night horror, but one those who are interested in quirky cinema should not miss.