90210's AnnaLynne McCord leads the cast of Excision, a dark, visually rich tale, filled with stirring horror and tinges of black comedy. The unique style and self-awareness that fills Richard Bates Jr.'s film helps assert it as one of the finest features of 2012. 

Pauline (AnnaLynne McCord) is a teenage outcast, infatuated with the idea of performing surgery. Her sinister behaviour alienates her from her image-conscious parents, Phyllis (Traci Lords) and Bob (Roger Bart) as well as her bitchy classmates and judgemental teachers. Only Pauline's young sister (Ariel Winter) who suffers from cystic fibrosis understands her, resulting in the young outcast attempting to perform life-saving surgery on her sibling. 

The magnetic Traci Lords
Bates Jr. does not hold back in any way, fully transporting us into the mind of a twisted teenage outcast. Excision captures the gore-filled fantasies that clog Pauline's psyche with a trippy visual originality. This is paralleled by the cynical glistening sheen of middle class suburbia, a world that tries its best to subdue Pauline's warped fantasies. This idea of crude madness in suburbia gives vibes of the iconic work of John Waters (think modern day Polyester or Serial Mom), who has clearly been an influence on the young filmmaker. The teenage outcast theme in Excision also feels slightly reminiscent of the likes of Carrie, whilst the elements of body horror have David Cronenberg written all over them. It is essentially the best elements of many classic horrors and cult films finely crafted into one feature. 

Part of the pleasure of Excision comes from the perfect elements of self-aware, dark comedy layered throughout the feature. From Pauline's no holds barred attitude with her parents and classmates to the frequent cynical looks at suburban life, Excision hits a perfect balance between horror and comedy.

Excision's cast is also likely to delight fans of camp and cult cinema. AnnaLynne McCord (90210) is completely unrecognisable in this dark role, managing to make us sympathetic to a highly unlikeable character. Pauline may be completely demented and her actions repulsive, but McCord's performance still connects with viewers - primarily when seeing Pauline bonding with younger sister, Grace. Roger Bart (The Stepford Wives) excels as Pauline's tired Father, whilst Ariel Winter's (Modern Family) pitch-perfect turn is likely to tug at your heartstrings.

Icon - John Waters' cameo
The performance of the year, however, goes to the magnificent Traci Lords as Phyllis, Pauline's mother. Phyllis appears as a harsh, controlling figure to begin with - we see her judging her family every morning at the breakfast table, yet we still connect through Lords' stellar performance. We gradually see that Phyllis is a flawed character who simply wants the best for her children, however this is hindered by Pauline's actions slowly breaking her family apart. Lords is a revelation.

Excision also features an amusing appearance from John Waters' as a minister who counsels Pauline. Seeing the Pope of Trash as a devout representative of God is just another element of Bates Jr.'s clever, self-aware screenplay. Malcolm McDowell adds further star quality as a frustrated teacher, whilst Ray Wise and Marlee Matlin bring some further fun to the cast .

Excision is a must see for fans of cult cinema - it is the finest horror of the year.


Originally written for Cinehouse UK
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