Any film that elects to cast the likes of Traci Lords, John Waters and Malcolm McDowell is clearly trying to play the cult card, and more often than not that irks me.

But the beauty of Excision is it pretty much confounds expectations from start to finish and there is little doubt it earns its cult kudos in spades.

Starting out bizarrely and getting weirder by the minute, Richard Bates Jr’s directorial debut is a truly memorable flick that hits all the right notes.

A teen film put through the wringer, Bates Jr’s effort echoes the likes of Heathers and Mean Girls, but then elects to throw in some gory surgery to boot.

Taking the lead here and producing a career-swerving performance is AnnaLynne McCord.

Gone is the blonde, beautiful ‘it’ girl of TV series 90210 – replaced by a lank brown-haired, spotty-faced, depressed teen who is battling her way through her more-than awkward school years.

McCord plays Pauline, a teen who spends most of her time daydreaming about performing surgery, or perhaps shagging blokes on a bed awash with blood.

We learn this you see thanks to a series of graphic dream sequences that are certainly not for the fainthearted.

Pauline is a bit of a science freak and with her younger sister Grace (Ariel Winter) suffering from cystic fibrosis, she elects to find out all she can about the illness.

Becoming more and more of a social outcast and shunned by all and sundry at school, Pauline eventually comes to the conclusion that she may need to sharpen her tools and carry out her fantasies for real if she is ever to make a name for herself.

McCord is a revelation in her role – sure it is pretty easy for an actress to de-glamorise themselves in a bid to snare a juicy part, but McCord really runs with it.

She also has a whole stack of great lines, for example: “I’m no advocate of violence, but sometimes people like Natalie just need to be punched in the face”.

If you find that funny (I did) then there is also plenty of humour on offer in Excision, jet black it must be said – but it made me laugh out loud.

While McCord is undoubtedly on top form, there is also solid support from Lords and Roger Bart as the suffering parents, while McDowell and Waters play a teacher and priest respectively.

There is plenty of gore for those that like the red stuff – a lot of it simmering with teenage sexual issues though in case that grosses you out.

Adapted from his own short film, Excision’s 81-minute running time just about hits the spot and is far from a short stretched to fit a feature length movie that other reviewers have suggested.

Excision will certainly not be to everyone’s tastes, but as a horror calling card for both Bates Jr and McCord it is a mightily impressive effort and one that will linger with you.

About The Author

Simon Fitzjohn

Simon is a journalism tutor in London, who also just happens to be a movie fanatic, with a craving for the darker side of cinema. He has written two books, one on the horror films of director Bob Clark (2014) and the other on the history of the character Norman Bates (2015). His third book, on the work of British exploitation director Pete Walker, is due in 2017.