Sunday, August 5, 2012

EXCISION (2012) review

Excision (2012) (1st viewing) d. Bates, Jr., Richard (USA)

Writer/director Bates’ feature debut, based on his original short, is a fascinating mixed bag; a film as willfully weird, unique and occasionally tiresome as its lead character, (AnnaLynne McCord, impressively outside her 90210 comfort zone).

Much in the same way that McCord’s eccentric, abrasive adolescent acts out against authority figures and social standards, Bates’s cinematic beast may keep some viewers at arm’s length – I found myself observing without empathizing, critiquing without engaging, more distracted by the stunt casting than impressed. (Seriously, what are Malcolm McDowell, John Waters, Ray Wise and Marlee Matlin doing in this movie other than calling attention to their overqualified presence?) On the other hand, Traci Lords is terrifyingly good as the image-conscious matriarch, inviting favorable comparisons with Annette Bening’s Oscar-nominated turn in American Beauty; she is well-matched by beaten-down Roger Bart’s vanquished spouse.

Genre fans take note: the horror elements exist tangentially, via several well-realized fantasy sequences in which beetle-browed McCord envisions herself as a goddess-like sensualist, bathing in pools of blood and the like – this is primarily a quirky character study a la Juno or Napoleon Dynamite that finds its way into May territory in the closing reel.

Undeniably assured filmmaking, entertainment mileage may vary.

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