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John’s Horror Corner: Excision (2012), a coming-of-age dark horror-comedy that gets quite unexpectedly macabre.

February 3, 2023

MY CALL: This is for fans of bizarre films seeking a delightfully uncomfortable, very funny, and occasionally extremely macabre coming of age story. MORE MOVIES LIKE Excision: Maybe for its weird sexualized nature or the coming-of-age aspects you might enjoy Necromantik (1988), Teeth (2007), May (2002), American Mary (2012) or Raw (2016).

Awkward high schooler Pauline (AnnaLynne McCord; Tone-Deaf, Trash Fire, Day of the Dead, The Haunting of Molly Hartley) serially tests the limits of our ability to distinguish angsty teenage depression from comical mental illness. Her behavior at school and at home is alarming and disturbing to her parents (Roger Bart;Hostel II, Smiley, The Midnight Meat Train; and Traci Lords;Blade), both farcical dysfunction stereotypes. Yet despite her lack of academic success as a student, Pauline maintains an almost delusional sense that she will one day be a surgeon… somehow. Pauline truly captures the awkward antisociality of a wayward teen.

The tone shifts from that of a heavy dark comedy to bloody, sexualized Cronenbergian daydreams abruptly, as if to illustrate Pauline’s truest inclinations of the themes in question. It’s shocking—titillating even. She is aroused by blood, which douses her twisted sexual fantasies.

Pauline’s coming-of-age is dealt with very bluntly, honestly, and forthcoming to crude.  Boldly and fearless of social stigma, Pauline invites a boy to take her virginity. The ensuing sex scene is surreal, macabre and awkward. And the subsequent abortion fantasy gets really macabre. For those that delight in these not-for-the-squeamish films, there are evocative vomit, dissection and surgery scenes that will test viewers’ comfort. But truly, the movie is pretty funny. Less laugh out loud and more evoking a nearly constantly knowing smirk from those who share twisted minds.

I’m not sure how I’d classify the genre of the movie? Horror feels totally wrong at first, although the macabre scenes alone clearly justify such placement. I’d sooner advise this to someone seeking a very dark comedy with some gross sexualized content and occasionally very heavy elements of family dysfunction. The social aspects of this movie compare to American Beauty (1999)… oh, but then there’s the final scenes. Yup, that’s where we have no argument that it’s a horror movie. The medical horror of the surgery scene is patient, thickly bloody, very graphic and oh so goretastic-chonky.

This was not the film I expected to watch at all, but it’s one I’m glad to have watched. Such a bizarre film in such a satisfying way.

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