Monday, November 5, 2012

Movie review: Excision (2012)

When the credits rolled on this feature, the first from director Richard Bates, Jr., I had - as the kids today say - conflicted feels. There was so much that was great about it and so much that was lousy. And this film illustrates exactly why I don’t want my first feature to be from one of my short films.

EXCISION is the twisted tale of a teenaged aspiring surgeon’s coming-of-age in an uptight household whose whole attention is devoted to their chronically ill younger daughter. It’s based on the short film of the same name, which I’d gotten to see at ShockerFest in 2008 (funny side note: the “women’s horror film festival” I mention near the end of the post was Viscera...funny how things work out!)

I loved the original short film. Unfortunately, the feature length version suffers greatly from a lack of focus that was evident, but controlled, in the short.

According to the IMDb, the director has only made Excision and its feature length sister. Excision was released in 2008, after God knows how long in development and production, and then he made the feature in 2011/2012. The feature has a complete lack of proper development for Pauline and her family. If he’d focused less on the pseudo-psychosexual fantasies, or had worked them into the story better, and instead focused on the psychotic devolution of this troubled young girl, the feature would’ve been better.

To expand more on the above: the “psychosexual” fantasies felt like the director was imitating other filmmakers (Lynch and Kubrick in particular) and their definitions of psychosexual, but because they weren’t weaved into the story well, they felt completely hollow. As it stands, if they’d been taken out, it wouldn’t have affected the story at all.

This is not to say that Excision is a complete loss. The minimalist score from Steve Damstra II and Mads Heldtberg was pretty perfect and Itay Gross’ cinematography was mostly gorgeous. The real stand out here, as in the original short, were the performances. I’m going to say this right now: AnnaLynne McCord was fabulous as Pauline, but Traci Lords stole the show as her mother, Phyllis. It would’ve been amazing to see a more developed interaction between the two of them.

The film is frustrating because there’s so much that’s good about it, but it needed at least one more pass while still a script.

No comments: