You know those crazy villains we often see in movies? And how they’re almost always super-capable people? Excision is a little bit different. It centers around a perfectly normal person who happens to have serious psychological problems. Her family tries to help her work through them, but it is in vain, and she becomes a murderess.
This character, Pauline, hopes to be a doctor one day. But that doesn’t seem possible right now. You see, she suffers from delusions that cause her to briefly lose sense of reality and see herself and others being shredded with sharp objects. Pauline always returns to reality in an almost mesmerized state. Again, she suffers from some personal demons, much to the shame of her authoritative, religious mother, Phyllis. For instance, Pauline’s fascination with blood causes her to decide to have her “first time” during her period. The resulting bleeding leads Pauline’s boyfriend, Adam, to realize that he’s with a crazy girl, so he leaves Pauline’s house in horror. Pauline, though, feels that it was the night of the century.
While there has been better storytelling about psychotics in the past, this is still pretty gruesome-but-interesting stuff. Writer and director Richard Bates, Jr. does a good job of peering into the soul of this troubled girl, and he doesn’t disappoint. The resulting “delusion” scenes are graphic and powerful. We cut to the terrible thing that Pauline thinks she sees, then back to reality. We have no trouble seeing just how f*cked-up in the head this girl is.
Still, there is plenty of tragedy involved, as well. Phyllis is anything but the model mother. She has a tendency to condemn faults in others and never recognize their strengths. It’s not just Pauline, either. Phyllis does the same with her husband. We’re even told that Pauline has never been to see a psychiatrist, only a priest. Phyllis says that the family can’t afford a psychiatrist. Since they live in a fairly nice place, we find it hard to believe that. In fact, it explains a lot about Pauline.
Eventually, Pauline’s problems snowball out of control. She is expelled from school indefinitely. This only makes her mother angrier. So Pauline continues to get worse and worse until she starts killing people, including her sister, Grace, and using them in medical experiments or, at least, what she thinks are medical experiments. What I mean by this is that these people are cut up just like in Pauline’s delusions. Pauline’s descent into absolute madness isn’t pretty, but it sure makes for good cinema.
However, this movie is hampered a bit by the ending. It’s mostly good except for one problem: it’s not really an ending. Phyllis gets Pauline to realize in full what she’s done and she is absolutely shocked. The question this leaves: what now? Pauline obviously goes to an insane asylum, but what after that? Does she get cured, spend the rest of her life there, or wreck more havok until someone else kills her in self-defense? We don’t know because the movie’s over. The ending is powerful enough… yet somehow it doesn’t seem right. Not completely.
So Excision is not a perfect movie. It is, however, a good one. Not for everyone, but if you can handle macabre film, it delivers.
Overall: 8 out of 10