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Excision is a sublime horror movie with an all-star cast that seems to have flown completely under the radar.

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Excision (2012)

Episode 20, 2 Guys and a Chainsaw

Todd:  Welcome to another episode of 2 Guys and a Chainsaw.  I’m Todd.

Craig: I’m Craig. 

Todd:  And today, we watched a film called Excision. Excision as opposed to incision. Craig, this film was your idea. You’d heard of it. What’s the story? 

Craig:  Yeah. I know. When we do our extensive research to figure out what movie we’re gonna 

Clip:  watch each week Yeah. We put a lot of thought 

Craig:  into this, don’t we? I was just, it’s our 20th episode, so I wanted to do something different. And so I just kinda I think I Google searched horror movie lists or something along those lines, and this, popped up on several lists of movies you probably haven’t seen and should. I kind of heard about it. I remember I mean, it came out in, like, 2012, so it’s been a while. Yeah. I remember hearing about it when they were making it, but I other than that, I really knew nothing about it. But, when I mentioned it to you, you kinda took a look at the cast list. 

Todd:  Oh my gosh. Yeah. I never heard of it at all. And, yeah, I looked at the cast list, and I’m like, okay. You got Craig Lourdes, Craig Wise, Malcolm McDowell, my good buddy Bill Oberst junior, and and I pretty much stopped there and said, well, we gotta see this. What a cast. 

Craig:  Yeah. The cast is amazing. Like, everybody I I swear, pretty much every cast member in this film is recognizable from something. Yeah. And it’s not to say necessarily that they’re all a list actors, but these are all working actors who you’re gonna recognize from other pictures. And I’m sure as we talk about them, we’ll kinda mention some of those things. But Annalyn McCord, is the main girl. She plays Pauline.   She kinda rose to fame with the 90210 reboot. She was kind of the vixen there. And so here, she’s really kinda playing against character. In in real life, she’s very beautiful, sexy, glamorous. And in this film, she plays, a homely Yeah. Weirdo. Yeah. 

Todd:  It was like doesn’t it seems like doesn’t even have makeup on half the time. It’s pimple faced, very Nousy hair. Total misfit adolescent Right. Really. Misunderstood, the kind of girl who just, can’t really seem to get through to anybody, doesn’t really care to let anybody in, seems to be off in our own little world most of the time Right. With these sort of bizarre weird fantasies. It it’s almost strange to believe that she’s grown up in this household with her sister being almost the polar opposite of her. 

Craig:  Right. You’ve got she’s got a little sister played by Ariel Winter who is still on Todd Family and doing very well. And she lives in, you know, upper middle class suburbia, it appears. You know, very nice home. The mother, Tracey Lourdes, is, you know, is, you know, trying to make them the picture perfect family. Mhmm. Very concerned about that, and Pauline just doesn’t fit in. She’s weird.   She’s a weird girl. 

Todd:  Yeah. 

Craig:  And I and I thought that Analyn McCord. You know, I don’t know much about her. I I saw maybe an episode of 90210, and she played very stereotypical bitch, you know, nothing nothing special. I thought she did a good job here of playing weird, but also pretty believable, especially in the beginning. Now she’s definitely got weird quirks. The movie opens up with a dream sequence, and we get these dream sequences throughout. And they’re super, super stylized. They look almost like a music video.   Yeah. Like, really bright colors, really striking images. And she has these fantasies, and we open with one of them, that are both morbid and bloody and gross and also hypersexualized. Yeah. Like, like, she gets off on on mutilation and blood and stuff, and we’re introduced to that right from the very beginning. So right from the very beginning, we know that there’s something weird going on in her mind. But beyond that, she kinda plays your typical I don’t know. Not your typical teenager, but that type of teenager.   You know, the the kind of loner. She doesn’t really fit in anywhere. She’s different. She has trouble making friends. And and as far as that portrayal was concerned, I thought she did a really good job. 

Todd:  Yeah. She did. And, you know, you could almost take out those gory interludes, and this would play like an angsty teenager comedy, like a like an updated John Hughes kinda movie. 

Craig:  Right. Right? Darker, obviously. I mean, the the comedy is dark, but, yeah. I mean, it’s it’s kind of, just your typical tale of of, an outcast who is different and doesn’t fit in, in her family, in school, wherever. 

Todd:  Yeah. She doesn’t seem to have any friends. Mm-mm. You you’re never introduced to anybody who could possibly be her friend. She’s at it alone. Her sister is really the only one she seems to have a bond with. 

Craig:  Right. 

Todd:  And, her dad played by, Roger Bart? 

Craig:  Yeah. Roger Bart who it took me a long time, but I I did finally figure out he, what I remember him most from is, Hostel 2. He was one of the main villains. He was kind of this average guy who, if you’ve watched the hostile things, they pay, you know, to be able to torture people and stuff, and he’s kind of conflicted about it. But then at the end, he ends up being one of the most brutal. He was also in Desperate Housewives, but, again, just so recognizable in all of them. And he seems a little bit what’s the word? Detached? Maybe a little bit aloof. Maybe a little bit beaten down.   Yeah. His wife is very controlling. You know? She and and not particularly affectionate. 

Todd:  No. Not at all. His wife, played by Craig Lords, as you mentioned, her name is Phyllis. 

Craig:  Mhmm. 

Todd:  And, Phyllis through this whole film is is just you can’t like her at all. She’s again, that sort of stereotypical overbearing mother. Everything’s about her. Everything revolves around her, and she’s gonna sit around and have something to say about every member of the family. Most of it’s criticisms, and most of it’s directed towards Pauline. Right. 

Clip:  Chew with your mouth closed. Really, Pauline? I’ve raised you better than that. Yes. You may be excused. 

Todd:  It’s hard to imagine this guy just sitting there through the whole thing, except that he’s lived through so many years of marriage, that this is just the way he is. There’s an odd scene between the 2 of them. Well, there are a lot of odd scenes in this movie. And I guess the one thing that struck me about this movie is that it’s a movie of, like, pastiches. It’s just separate scenes that begin and end and are almost disconnected from each other. There’s not a comfortable flow Right. From in narrative from one to the other, and we’ll talk about it more later, but I almost got this feeling that I was watching a a Wes Anderson movie in a way, but kind of crossed with, Paul Thomas Anderson too. 

Craig:  Who what does he do? Right? 

Todd:  He he did, like, Boogie Nights. Oh, right, Enolia, those movies. Right. It’s like it’s trying to be somewhere in between those 2. You know, you get these shots where and it’s a very wide screen. Mhmm. And, shoot, most of the movie’s dialogue, there’s very little action actually happening. Except for the fantasy sequences, and 

Craig:  there’s not a lot of dialogue there. And and it’s those sequences are are so different in style. I mean, there’s a direct contrast. You’re the cinematography guy, but I I found myself being really intrigued not only by that really stylized stuff, but just the cinematography in general. There was a lot of really neat framing Mhmm. Especially with, you know, shots on individual characters. They’re framed right in the middle of this wide, wide screen. And, like, the mom, there are many scenes at the dinner table, family dinner, and every time, it’s focused on her, again, right in the middle of the screen, and the wall behind her is just kind of this stark gray.   Mhmm. So it just set I mean, it’s almost like a portrait. Yeah. And it really highlights her personality. Just really austere and clean, I guess. 

Todd:  Yeah. It really sets her apart from everybody else in the table. Everyone’s got a little background behind them and, looks like they’re in a living room, and she looks like she’s sitting down for a photographer. Right. Right. It does. It suits her personality really well. And every scene’s kind of like that where when people are talking to each other, they’re planted in place, they’re not moving really or taking any action, and it’s a close-up on 1 person’s head and a close-up on another person’s head to the point where it almost looks like they’re talking at the camera half 

Clip:  the time Uh-huh. 

Todd:  Instead of each other. And it also makes for these very unnatural sort of scenes, unnatural sorts of framing where suddenly we jump in and we’re in the middle of a scene, and 2 people are just standing in front of each other, and they’re in the middle of a conversation, I guess, but there’s enough pause that it seems like the conversation is just starting up when you get there. Almost like, each scene has been put on pause, and then when we come to it, somebody’s unpausing it for us. Right. And we’re going on, and then we hit pause again, which is a lot like kind of the Wes Anderson movies. You know, they try to be very understated Mhmm. And framed up like a diorama 

Craig:  of sports. Yeah. 

Todd:  Except that what he does is he really, like, literally create creates an almost a diorama around people where the the background is interesting, and it’s a pretty picture right there. This has that feeling with with none of the visual. 

Craig:  Right. 

Todd:  You know? 

Craig:  It’s more sparse. I mean, there’s less going on. And it’s interesting what you said about, you know, the conversations. You focus on 1 person, then it shifts the focus to the other, and it seems almost like they’re kinda communicating through the camera. I think it really kinda highlights the disconnect between the family and the characters, especially with Pauline. I mean, she doesn’t really have a connection with anybody. There are some scenes, several scenes, where her mom tries to sit her down on the couch and kind of have a more intimate heart to heart with her. But even in those scenes, the mother will be turned in.   They’re sitting on a couch. The mother will be turned in facing Pauline, but Pauline is always facing straight out. They’re they’re not facing one another. So there’s even still the disconnect there. The only time that you really do kind of see connection, is between Pauline and Grace, her sister. They interact on screen, and they do interact with eye contact and and their, you know, physical connection. So you do get the sense that at least she does have this feeling for her sister, and that plays an important role later on down the line. 

Todd:  That’s right. There’s it’s almost like everyone’s talking at her. Right. Right? And they’re not connecting at all. And you’re right. The cinematography does a pretty good job of getting that across as well as the dialogue. It’s very sparse dialogue. It’s honestly, I felt almost a little artificial.   I’m sure it was intended to be that way, but it’s very to the point and direct in the way that people don’t normally really talk to each other. Right. You know? We usually beat around the bush a little bit. We usually think about what we say. We usually stumble over our words or our 

Craig:  casualness to conversation. And here, everything seems so forced. Just to communicate at all seems like a major effort for for everybody, especially anybody trying to communicate with Pauline, and she is aloof and and kind of cut off. She’s sarcastic and biting. You know, some some pretty typical teenage angsty stuff, but, it’s it’s an interesting kind of character study with the dynamics, of the family, especially. 

Todd:  The the words that come out of Pauline’s mouth sometimes sound like comic book guy. Yeah. You know? She’s a very intellectual. She thinks a lot about things. She’s obviously, she thinks a lot about death. Like you said, it starts out with this fantasy that she’s having of her sitting across from herself, basically, except her other self is sort of convulsing and spitting blood, This gross stuff, and it keeps coming back to those fantasies that she has. In the meantime, her sister, Grace, has cystic fibrosis, and, she’s on a ventil well, I guess, something that taking breathing treatments. Breathing treatments, you know, every now and then, so that comes up.   And, she’s going to therapy. Right. 

Craig:  No. The mom the mom. What did you say the mom’s name was? I can’t remember. Phyllis. Phyllis Yeah. Picks picks Pauline up from school and says we’re we’re going to your appointment. I 

Clip:  guess we better get going. We don’t wanna be late for your appointment. Could you please have the decency to take me to an actual psychiatrist? Your father and I are not made out of money. Reverend William is a very bright man. You’re lucky to have him. He’s doing you a real favor. 

Craig:  So then she gets to her appointment and awesome awesome. The, 

Todd:  It’s John Waters. 

Craig:  It’s John Waters. 

Todd:  This is like the the perfect and that’s the comedy and the casting right here too. Like, John Waters is the joke. You know? Here’s John Waters playing a priest. 

Clip:  Right. 

Todd:  And he’s just staring at her, and he’s got that look on his face like, I really don’t know what to do with you. Right? 

Craig:  Right. 

Todd:  And she clearly doesn’t wanna be there either and sees through his facade. He has nothing to he doesn’t even make an effort, really. Yeah. And that’s like everybody in this film. Nobody really makes a real effort. Even the mother’s arguably the only one making any kind of effort isn’t really an effort. It’s, again, it’s she’s not trying to connect with her very well. 

Craig:  Yeah. It’s it’s like she’s a problem that needs to be solved. She’s she’s a burden. And now, you know, and and the same thing happens with, her teachers, and and I work with teenagers. So I know that it can be very difficult to put up with their Craig when when they act like that. But, yeah, I mean, there’s there’s very little compassion. You know? It I don’t know if she’s necessarily intentionally crying out, but this girl clearly has some issues that need to be resolved, and and nobody really is so much concerned about her general well-being. They’re more concerned about appearances and fixing her and making her normal.   Mhmm. The mom wants her to go to cotillion even though she’s, you know, beyond the age. It’s it’s it’s more for junior high kids. 

Todd:  But Does anyone ever do that anymore? Is that a real thing? Like, it still happens? 

Craig:  I think in some places, probably, a little bit wealthier places, they they do still do 

Todd:  things like that. That’s crazy. It is kinda crazy. I saw that, and I thought, this is is this just something the writer read about? Because, I mean, I know what it is, and I’ve heard about it and and but I just didn’t think that actually happened anymore. 

Craig:  I have friends well, see, now I’m 36, and so it’s been a long time since I’ve been in high school. But I had cousins and friends and things who who did, cotillion. 

Todd:  And for anyone who doesn’t know what cotillion is, it’s almost like a charm school for guys and girls that teaches them how to dance and interact with each other. Manners and right. Exactly. It’s weird. 

Craig:  It it is weird. You know? 

Todd:  They bygone era. 

Craig:  Right. You know, they get all dressed up in fancy suits and dresses and whatnot, and they get together, and it’s kind of like, the nerdiest social thing ever. 

Clip:  You do realize I’m too old for cotillion class. Missus Guthrie has decided to open her doors to a wider age range this year. She’s a dear friend and in dire need of assistance, so I’ve decided to take on a position as chaperone. You can’t be serious. No daughter of mine is going off to college without knowing the ins and outs of what it’s like to be a proper lady. I can’t wait for gazillion. And what do you have to say about all this? 

Todd:  I think what your mother is trying to do is since 

Clip:  Your mother? Excuse me. This was our decision. I knew dad had nothing to do with it. You don’t even have enough backbone to stand up for your own wife? You’re repulsive. Make sure Grace takes her pills. 

Craig:  And, obviously, she doesn’t fit in. No. It’s not something that she wants to do at all. And it’s difficult, even to kinda talk about plot because, really, most of it is centered around her struggles. Now some interesting parts, we’ve already talked about her dreams, and she has dreams throughout. And they’re all very similar in nature, dead bodies mutilated to various degrees. Oftentimes, the dead bodies seem to still be animated. Like like, they’re not dead.   They’re just really grotesque. They’re all very sexual. You know, you know, act behaving sexually with and around her, but there’s always that gore element too. You know? She’s she’s bathing in blood. She’s wiping blood on her face. She’s she’s, dissecting you know, sticking her hands into cut open corpses, all the while clearly enjoying herself. It cuts from those scenes to showing her in bed, and, again, you can tell that she’s sexually stimulated. And it’s it’s it’s disturbing. 

Todd:  It is. And it it’s interesting this you know, there’s a book that is on her desk when she’s talking, and one of the things she also talks about is how it’s clearly, like, she’s wants to be a surgeon. 

Craig:  Mhmm. 

Todd:  You know, whether one be got the other, who knows? Right. But she’s interested in surgery, and she’s interested in this medical stuff. And there’s a book that’s on her desk that constantly is kind of showing up called human sexuality, and then the subtitle is the psychosexual effects of disease. I didn’t see that. It’s interesting because you’re thinking disease as in she has a problem, you know, and this is kind of manifesting itself or disease because she’s her sister has disease, and this is kind of an obsession that she’s trying to see if she can fix her sister in some way, and maybe that was what spurred her on to maybe be interested in surgery. And you you kinda wonder if at some point growing up before we the events of this movie, her relationship with her sister has led her down this path. Maybe. And and maybe it’s a they’ve led her down this path this medical path, which then she’s really gotten into and it’s become the sexual thing for her or if that was just always below the surface.   Obviously, never explained, but I think there’s some depth there probably in character that, is hinted at anyway, during the movie. 

Craig:  Well, I think it we can only call it some kind of psychosis. I mean, it’s not normal. No. And and, you know, she’s she’s fascinated with these things in their dream in her dreams. And I don’t know if I if we’ve mentioned it yet, but in her dreams, it seems like she feels a sense of power and control. Mhmm. And and not only do you see that through her aggressive action, but in her dreams, she’s also very glamorous. She’s got in real life, she’s got this brown mousy hair.   She’s got, you know, acne all over her face. She’s got throughout part of the movie, she’s got a cold sore on her face. Her her looks are really downplayed. And in these dreams, she’s beautiful and glamorous with blonde, curly hair and and, 

Todd:  She’s climbing all over the Todd, dominating them. She’s leading other women down the hallway. 

Craig:  Right. Her and her, you know, her she wears things that are flattering to her body so that you can see that she is actually a very attractive young woman, but that doesn’t translate into her real life, which is something that I kept kind of thinking was strange. You know, she’s she’s having these dreams where she’s so beautiful and empowered in a sick way, but, you know She’s not trying Right. 

Clip:  Yeah. 

Todd:  To fulfill them in any Right. Significant way. She’s more interested in the blood and sort of the the death Right. Almost. It’s interesting in the very beginning. Obviously, it kind of hits you with that, and then we get introduced to her family. And then the first event that really happens is she’s talking about how she wants to lose her virginity. And she overhears a couple girls talking.   It’s the The mean girls. The mean high school girls. Right? And 1 girl’s talking about her boyfriend, and they’re making comments about a shlong and stuff. And, his name is Adam. Mhmm. And she tells her sister that she’s going to lose her virginity. 

Clip:  I’m ready to lose my virginity. It’s a common virginity, I wanna be on my period. Girls, we’re having early dinner. 

Craig:  It just and even her sister. It seems like her sister wants them to have a relationship. But when she says stuff like that, her sister just kinda gives her a side eye, like, doesn’t look so weird. 

Todd:  I don’t know what to do with that information. Right. And so she approaches Adam with her phone number just very matter of fact. 

Craig:  Oh my god. It’s hilarious. She’s like, pardon me for being so up front or so forward or something like that. And meanwhile, you know, he’s sitting there with his bros. Like, you know, it’s not like this is a private conversation. 

Clip:  I wanna lose my virginity to you. I’m clean, and I just put my allowances on birth control. So 

Craig:  That’s nice. 

Clip:  Adam. It’s my number. Call me. You’re on the top of my list. Thank you. I won’t wait forever. 

Craig:  And Adam is this young cute kid. I I recognized him too, and I knew that he had been a child actor. I don’t know what his name is, but he was in a, a live action version of, Peter Pan. He played Peter Pan. Oh, yeah? Yeah. I know if you saw the the jacket of the DVD, you’d recognize him. Okay. Again, just more recognizable people.   So she gives him his number. He acts completely uninterested, of course. But later on, couple days later, she gets a phone call, and, it’s Adam, and she’s very kind of curt with him, but she says pick me up at 11 o’clock on Monday. It’s a teacher workday, and and we’ll do it. Yeah. 

Todd:  And she just hangs right up while he’s in the middle of talking. And, yeah, it’s a very awkward, scene. You know, there are a number of these kinds of scenes. Person loses their virginity for the 1st time in films, especially kids. It they’re always a little awkward. They’re played pretty realistic in that way, and she’s more or less in control telling him to just take his clothes off. There’s some comedy in there where he’s like, I stole this condom from my brother. Yeah.   It’s for the big ones. And then she looks and she’s like, you don’t you don’t need the big ones, but but that’s okay. We’re not gonna use a condom anyway. 

Craig:  Right. 

Todd:  And, you know, they’re having sex. And in the meantime, she there it’s flipping between them having sex and this alternate version in her mind of them having sex where she’s bleeding all over them and blood’s flying on the walls and she’s smearing blood on 

Craig:  her It’s splashing on the bed. I mean, tons of blood. There’s so much blood in this movie. Lots and lots of blood Todd the point where by the end, it was really kinda getting to me 

Todd:  a little bit. Really? Yeah. 

Craig:  I was really, yeah, kinda getting a little squeamish. 

Todd:  Well and it’s kind of presented in a in a gross clinical way. It’s those scenes that we’re talking about, those dream sequences, as you said, they’re in this bright room. They’re almost like each one of them is in a hospital. 

Craig:  Right? Well, it’s yes. It’s white bright white kind of a sterile looking environment. 

Todd:  Yeah. And if there’s a wall, it’s sort of a blue tiled wall. At one point, there’s an abortion type scene, and there’s a, clearly, a doctor character who takes this little baby thing away and puts it in an oven. And Yeah. 

Craig:  It’s it’s bizarre because after after they have sex and, again, it’s it’s totally awkward because she is menstruating. And, 

Todd:  He doesn’t notice that at first. 

Craig:  Right. He makes a comment that if you wanna stick the clip in, I I I can’t can’t bring myself to say it. Gotcha. Fuck it. What? 

Clip:  Thank you. I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t do it. 

Craig:  But then towards, the end of their romp, she she asks him to perform oral sex, and he does, which is when he realizes what has been going on. And, of course, he freaks out, and and takes her home and is not happy with her. But she got what she wanted out of the experience, and she’s pretty pleased with herself. 

Todd:  And she’s pretty pleased at sort of sabotaging this girl’s relationship with her boyfriend. 

Craig:  Right. Because Adam is is, Natalie, one of the mean girls, boyfriend. Right? 

Todd:  Yeah. And then then later on, there’s a scene obviously in the locker room where she’s confronted, and it’s, 

Craig:  Well, she drops hints. Like, after it happens, she approaches that group, you know, Adam and his friends and his girlfriend. And, she says I don’t remember what she 

Todd:  she’s told what she does is she asks, she she gives herself this, like, what she calls an STD test in the middle of science class where she’s just looking at her own blood under a microscope and she makes a comment to her friend. And then she goes out where Adam’s talking with his girlfriend. Was it Natalie you said? Uh-huh. 

Clip:  I’d watch out for Pauline if I were, she gave herself an STD test in science class today. Everything was fine. She can never be too careful. Yeah. Oh, Natalie, I meant to ask you. Do you have any STDs? Absolutely not. Good. Then neither do I.   Just kinda walks away. 

Craig:  And so then, apparently, you know, we don’t see it on screen, but Natalie and her other mean girlfriend, Abigail, kind of corner her in the locker and are just kinda being general bullies, telling her she’s ugly, that she looks like a boy. And, of course, she comes back with some really biting things like, yeah. Well, your vagina looks like a bloody ax wound 

Clip:  or something like that. 

Craig:  And she she always keeps her cool. You know? And it’s kind of sad that I I don’t know if she’s controlling her emotion or if she’s just kind of emotionless, but she always comes back with something kinda quippy. You know? She doesn’t really play the victim. No. So I I guess, Natalie had had gotten it out of Adam that they had Pauline and he had had sex, so they broke up. And so then you’ve got just this kind of antiguanistic thing between Pauline and the Mean Girls too. 

Todd:  Yeah. And it’s interesting because with those scenes, there’s a ton of comedy, and you’re right. She usually gets the upper hand verbally situations and pretty much anyone she’s dealing with whether they’re an adult or not. But then there are these scenes that Todd me honestly felt a little out of place where she seems very affected by her mother’s opinion of her. I think one of the first times it happens, and her mother and her have been having spats through this whole movie, usually over the dinner table because there are, like, 20 dinner table scenes in this movie, and they all look the same, and they all pretty much play out the same. It’s very monotonous in in that way. It must have been after one of these dinner table spats that, the mother goes into the room with her husband and just says, I don’t know. It’s just impossible to love her. 

Craig:  Right. I’ve I’ve tried and tried, but she’s disturbed, and it’s just she’s impossible to love. And Pauline hears this, and then you can I mean, it’s she’s by herself? You know? She’s eavesdropping, and she does. She breaks out in tears. And it’s a sad I mean, if you think about the whole circumstance, it’s it’s sad, and this movie’s extreme. It’s a horror movie. But underlying it, there are some, I think, like to pretend like nothing fazes them, they can be hurt. Yeah.   And and, you know, she plays that. Nothing you know, everything rolls off my back. But you see in privacy when her mom says something. And I think that when this happened, I don’t remember what instigated it. You know, they had been like you said, they fight through the whole thing, but they’re just sitting at the dinner table, and, Pauline just grabs some food off of her plate and flings it at her mother 

Todd:  Right. 

Craig:  With no provocation, with and with no explanation, and she just gets up and goes. And that’s kind of the last straw. To be fair, after that, the mom does try to reconnect with her. She tries to sit her down and say, I don’t understand what’s going on with you. I I just I I can’t understand it, she said. But, you know, when I was your age, my mother really hurt me, and I’m still trying to forgive her for that, and I don’t want us to have that kind of relationship. As overbearing as she is and as critical as she is, I got the sense and the dad says this several times. You know? Everything she does, she does out of love.   And as twisted as her attempts are Mhmm. I do think that she is you know, she does care for both of her daughters, and I think that it does come from a place of love, but she’s not a good 

Todd:  mom. No. And, you know, I think I think you live long enough, you encounter people like this who you know that they genuinely care, but they do it they show their care in all the wrong ways. It usually comes across as, I’m trying to fix you Mhmm. And I know what’s best for you. And so here’s what I’m going to say, and I’m just gonna expect you to do it. And that’s sort of the way she parents. Right.   Is she thinks that she can just sort of dictate to this girl how to be Right. And point out all of her flaws so that she can fix them. And even in that scene that you’re mentioning where she’s trying to reconcile, there is a huge disconnect still to where you can’t really sympathize too much with the mom. No. You know, she starts out and she’s kind of talking about it was a book that I read in book club that made me realize something about and the girl sees right through it and, of course, is very standoffish with it. You you almost wondered if mom had actually approached her in a very sincere manner if her response would have been a little different? 

Craig:  Well, may I think it would. I think maybe it would. And and you get the sense that she is a product of yes. She’s probably disturbed in some way. And maybe even the disturbance is a kind of a product of her upbringing. You know? Her mom wants to fit her into this very specific mold that she clearly doesn’t fit into. Whereas, you know, Grace, despite the fact that she is ill, you know, potentially terminally ill, she’s a very girly girl, and and she’s pretty, and she has a very pretty pink room with dollhouses and dolls. And, you know, she likes to look at bridal magazines and talk to boys.   And, you know, she’s kind of the mom’s pride and joy, and then she’s got this other kid who just is getting everything wrong. 

Todd:  And it’s a little tomboyish. She wants to be a surgeon. 

Craig:  Right. She she’s just an odd dirt an odd duck. You know? She’s weird. But something else that I was thinking of at one point, the mom says to Pauline, everything you do or the way that you act, the way that you behave makes you seem like a sociopath. Pauline says, well, based on the definition of sociopath, I think all teenagers are sociopaths, which in a way is kind of true. But it it it kinda made me wonder because part of you know? And I’m no psychiatrist, so I I’m speak I’m just talking out my ass. But from what I understand, part of that you know, part of being a sociopath is is complete egocentricity. Yes.   And, you kinda see that in the mom Yeah. A little bit too. You know? She may have kind of some tendencies as well. 

Todd:  Yeah. The apple isn’t full far 

Craig:  from the 

Todd:  tree there. It’s interesting that she never reaches that point of jealousy with her sister to where she hates her sister. 

Craig:  Mhmm. 

Todd:  You know? And and that’s an interesting touch to this movie. I would have expected, and I was expecting early on, a a kind of animosity towards her sister and the fact that she is treated so differently, which obviously is possibly a function of her disease. Right. You know? She’s the one that we baby and take care of that we’re proud of, but she still has a very good relationship with her, which comes into play pretty important, you know, later on. 

Craig:  Right. And another thing that we haven’t mentioned, and and this comes from very early in the movie and is consistent throughout. In addition to those dream sequences, we also have sequences where she’s praying. And the 1st time, that she you know, and it it looks like she’s kneeling somewhere, the entire background is black, and she’s entirely clad in black. So it almost looks like a floating head in arms. Mhmm. And and she’s kinda praying. And the first time she says, 

Clip:  I know I don’t believe in you, so you’re totally justified if you choose to ignore me. I just I’ve been meaning to get something off my chest. I haven’t read your book in its entirety. Just can’t bring myself to invest that much time into a work of literature that’s received so many mixed reviews. I’m an avid reader, and there’s just so much stuff out there. Okay. Here it goes. I’m planning on having premarital sex.   I know you’re not gonna be a 100% on board with it, which is why I was wondering if we could discuss your role surrounding forgiveness. I’m under the impression if I ask you to forgive me, you kinda have to, which is it’s pretty awesome. I’m just gonna say. If I’m off base, let me know. Otherwise, I’m gonna move forward as 

Craig:  planned. Amen. So she has these kinda direct conversations with God where she really talks about her feelings and what she’s going through. She vents her frustrations, and those are really interesting and I think reveal a lot about her character. And by the end, she concedes, I I guess I do really believe in you now. 

Todd:  Yeah. There’s a transformation. There’s a clear Right. Probably the only clear transformation that’s happening, honestly, throughout the this whole movie, every character is pretty much in stasis. I I just don’t see a lot of development, a lot of change in any of them except in her, really, and even her, not so much. Well, her 

Craig:  change it’s it’s kind of subtle, and it’s deteriorative. I mean, she, you know, she she falls into her psychosis. And I think part of that is just because she has nobody to connect to, she has nobody to talk Todd, Eventually, the parents concede, we’ll take you to an actual psychiatrist, but we can’t get you in until next week. So can you please just try to be normal until then? Yeah. And unfortunately, she’s not able to. But it you know, in her prayers, I I just found her prayer so interesting and funny. There was one, where she says, I’m not really a big fan of that whole your dead relatives looking down on you. She said, if I do get she said, I do some pretty weird things during the day, and I would really appreciate my privacy.   I don’t mean to be presumptuous, but if I do get into heaven and my relatives have been watching over me, a lot of relationships are probably gonna be compromised. 

Clip:  Oh, god. 

Craig:  And it’s just it’s so funny, and it’s it’s 

Todd:  It’s something we could all say. 

Craig:  Right. Right. Absolutely. And it it’s it’s nice to get those scenes where she’s speaking honestly because she’s so closed off all the rest of the time. She’s hard to read. 

Todd:  Yeah. It’s really the filmmaker’s way of giving you a window into her mind beyond just the soundless, weird it’s a honestly, it’s a good counterbalance to all the weirdness that you get of her fantasies. 

Craig:  Mhmm. 

Todd:  If it didn’t have this honest heart to heart with God type moments of prayer, you wouldn’t get that. I don’t know. You it would she’d be harder to relate to. 

Craig:  She and she is hard to relate to, but I did find myself feeling sympathetic towards her. Mhmm. She’s so strange. And, you know, her fascination with surgery, continues on at some point. And this is getting towards the end of the movie, and you know it’s not a good sign. You know? She she finds a dead bird, and she stashes it away in her bag and takes it home. And she says to it, don’t make me regret saving your life or something like that. This bird is obviously dead.   You know? I don’t know what she’s thinking, but she she cuts into it and starts pulling things out and then says, oh, guess it was too late. And, you know, she and she’s examining the innards. At one point, she licks the blood off of her fingers. You can tell that she’s coming unhinged. 

Todd:  Yeah. She’s really slipping into her fantasies, essentially. And that comes about not long after the point in which the doctors deliver some news to the Phyllis, the mother, that her sister is going to need a lung transplant ASAP. Right. 

Craig:  They and they’ve known that that was probably going to be a likelihood, but they didn’t expect it so soon. And cystic fibrosis is a terrible disease. It’s really debilitating, and the bond is established between the sisters. And she says Pauline says several times to herself, to her sister, to her parents, I’m gonna do everything in my, you know, everything I can possibly do to make sure that she’s gonna be okay. And she really does seem to be concerned about her sister’s well-being, and she you you know, they have little heart to hearts, and they’re sweet. You know, the sister’s looking at a bridal magazine, and Pauline says, you know, what are you looking at? Oh, just pictures, you know, just in case maybe I live enough to get married someday. And Pauline says, I’m gonna do everything I can to ensure that that happens. And you can tell that she really does desperately want to help in whatever way she can, which, like you said, may be the whole motivation behind her fascination with medicine and surgery anyway.   Mhmm. 

Todd:  And that scene in particular is the one where I could see the ending coming. 

Craig:  I know. I know. 

Todd:  It’s kind 

Craig:  of it’s really quite sad. It is. And, like, you almost I almost wanted to turn it off. Like, nope. Nope. Let’s just pretend that’s not going to happen. 

Clip:  Yeah. 

Craig:  It it is predictable. What happens is you know, I and I can’t remember. It it is. I think it’s ignited by her. Again, she’s eavesdropping. She overhears her parents talking about how, Grace is going to need the transplant, and she sets a plan into motion. 1st, at another dinner table scene, she tries to ease her parents’ mind. She says, I just wanna say thank you for putting up with me.   I know it’s been weird. She’s gotten expelled from school because the mean girls, have come and vandalized her house, spray painted slut, and Pauline is a cunt spelled with a k then crossed out and corrected with a c, toilet paper. And when that happens, she goes to school in a scene that I found so amusing. She’s, like, marching into school. Her arms are swinging like an ape, and she’s just slow mo. She’s pushing people out of the way, and she finally gets to Natalie, and she just grabs her by the hair and smashes her face in the locker. And so she gets expelled by the principal, principal Campbell, Ray Wise, who’s another excellent, 

Clip:  you know, 

Craig:  genre actor who I really love. And, so she she tells her parents, like, you know, I’m sorry. I I know I messed up, but I’m gonna get my life back on track. I’m gonna, you know, I’m gonna make I’m gonna make things happen. So she kind of eases their mind a little bit. But and in the moment, I didn’t know if she was being sincere or not. Mhmm. But it becomes pretty clear that she’s not.   In in one of her other talks with God, she says, thank you for giving me the strength and the intellect to be able to do great things. 

Todd:  Yeah. 

Craig:  She says something like, get my parents out of the way or something like that. She said, except but I’ve kind of already gotten that taken care of. Like, she’s eased them into a false sense of security. 

Todd:  It’s forecast pretty well. You you know which direction it’s going when these scenes and it should be a warning sign to all parents who have a this troubled or disturbed kid when suddenly their behavior makes a 180 degree change. It’s not necessarily something you wanna, rejoice. A suspect. Mhmm. And, yeah. So there’s been this girl across the street who’s one of the top girl. Jump rope girl, which is kind of silly.   Honestly, this is one of the sillier points in the movie. And, again, it is a comedy, but at one point earlier in the film, she comes over to raise. She’s raising money for her jump rope club. We’ve got cotillion and jump rope club all in the same movie. It’s kinda weird. But, she decides she wants to make a or she claims she wants to make amends with her too and says, hey. I’ve got I’ve got some old jump ropes out back. 

Craig:  Right. And before that, the mom and the dad were gonna go to dinner. Oh, yeah. That’s right. And they were gonna have a babysitter, which, of course, upset, Pauline because she’s 18. You know? She’s she’s grown. 

Todd:  But they need someone responsible. 

Craig:  Right. They need someone responsible, and the mom makes sure to point that out. The babysitter cancels. So the mom is gonna go out by herself, I guess, and the dad’s supposed to stay home. And, Pauline makes her and her dad some tea, and you see her drugging it. So you know I mean, you know what’s coming. Yeah. So the dad’s drug, then she lures the jump rope girl over, chloroforms her, I guess.   I don’t know where she’s getting this 

Todd:  All this stuff. Is it from her chemistry? Yeah. Who knows? 

Craig:  Who knows? 

Todd:  Who knows? Yeah. Chloroforms her and then goes up and has this kind of heart wrenching scene with her sister where they’re sitting there. And Grace’s coloring. 

Craig:  You know, how did you think Grace is supposed to be, like, 14, maybe? 15? I guess. I mean, Ariel Winter’s older than that. Yeah. And looks older than that, but it she was playing it young. And I I thought maybe she was maybe supposed to be 14 or 15, but because of the way she’s been treated, because she is so fragile, she’s She’s younger. Yeah. 

Todd:  It could be. I I almost imagined her the, you know, later in the middle school maybe. Yeah. So around that age. 

Craig:  But my point with that was, you know, this is the scene that we then cut to is the 2 of them, Pauline and Grace, sitting on the floor in Grace’s room, which is, you know, this pretty little girl’s room, and Grace is coloring. She’s, like, coloring bubble letters of her name. It’s very sweet and innocent. And Pauline is kinda stroking her hair and says 

Clip:  You’re not going to understand what I’m about to do, but someday, you’ll thank me. 

Todd:  Yeah. She chloroforms her, and then you get But 

Craig:  it really I mean, it’s there’s a struggle, and and Grace is is screaming and crying. And it’s so sad because you know that Pauline really, really does wanna help. And in her broken mind, she thinks that she’s doing something to save her sister, and you know it’s not. There’s no possible way 

Todd:  it can work out. 

Craig:  That’s just absolutely it’s 

Todd:  it’s impossible. We’ve seen her surgical skills. 

Craig:  Right. 

Todd:  They’re nothing like, the guy in, deadly friend. Let’s put it that way. 

Clip:  Right. Right. 

Todd:  Yeah. So it becomes this back and forth that actually reminded me a little bit of American beauty. Yes. A little bit of that feeling of, horror and suburbia Yeah. Sort of sad tragedy that goes wrong where she has hauled them both into the garage and laid them both onto tables and is cutting the lungs out of 1 to put into the other, and they’re both clearly dead. Right. At this point, 

Craig:  there’s blood everywhere. I mean, there’s blood their eyes are open. The blood blood’s coming from their mouths. Before before the surgery, we get a really brief scene of Pauline chopping all of her hair off in the mirror. So then you’ve got when we see what we know is coming, and we’d so desperately want it not to be. Again, it’s just framed in this in this central shot with a table with these girls laid out on either side of of Pauline, who’s standing in between them, bald in what looks like like a lab coat or or something. I mean, again, very clinical, very except for all the blood everywhere, almost kind of this sterile scene. And 

Todd:  It it is reminiscent of her flash you know, 

Craig:  of her of her Mhmm. Of her dreams. 

Todd:  Yeah. And her mom, at the meantime, is coming home and discovers that dad’s been drugged and tied up and looks in the room, and it just goes back and forth. And finally, mom shows up in there and just looks at her like, what have you done? And she says, look. You you wouldn’t imagine how you’ve gotta come and check out what I did, mom. It’s it’s, you know, the 1st girl I wasn’t sure, so I decided Todd to do what to do with the Todd. So I practiced my sutures on her first, and she’s just crying and she they embrace. And and then Pauline herself kind of starts crying. Right.   It it seems like she’s almost been in 

Craig:  some sort of trance state through, you know, throughout this whole procedure. And her mother, when she sees what’s I mean, she says, what have you done? And then she kind of lunges at her, and I expected it to be an attack, like violent. And I think that’s kind of how it starts out a little bit. I think she pounds on her just a little bit before grabbing her and embracing her and holding her tight to her and she has done has 

Todd:  hit her. 

Craig:  Yeah. 

Todd:  Yeah. 

Craig:  And so they they embrace, and both of them are sobbing and screaming, and that’s it. Yeah. It’s the end. 

Todd:  Fade to black. Yeah. And, honestly, I thought it was really emotional. I thought it was touching. It would have touched me more. It would have been more emotional for me if the film had been played in a less detached way. Mhmm. I understand what you the director was trying to do.   Again, I like I said, I felt like he was deliberately going for this balance between PT Anderson and Wes Anderson. But for me, it was so detached that I had a hard time getting really emotionally invested in the movie. Again, I I’m comparing it a little bit to American Beauty Mhmm. Because it felt like it had a similar tone even though they’re not the same film. 

Craig:  Oh, right. 

Todd:  And I was so much more invested in the characters in American Beauty, I felt so that when that ending happened, it just ripped me out. Whereas in this case, and and that very similar, honestly, you’ve got instead of the the girl kind of slipping into her fantasy world and having this sort of psychosis, it’s the father Mhmm. You know? And then I don’t know. That would be my criticism of the film is that it was funny and it was staged, but everything was so deliberate and so deliberately funny and so detached that I had a hard time engaging as a viewer. 

Craig:  I can totally understand that, and I think that the style that it was shot in and maybe just you know, maybe there was some lacking character development because, like you said, there’s really no progression of character. It’s just we’re introduced to these characters, and they pretty much stay the same. But I didn’t feel the same way. Now I don’t know I would say that I liked this movie, but it it was kind of gut wrenching for me. I felt for Pauline. I wanted her to get help. I knew she wasn’t going to. You know, I knew what kind of movie this was gonna be.   Yeah. As soon as we got into it, you know, you get 5 minutes in, and you you know what kind of movie this is gonna be. It kinda reminded me of, May. Did you ever see that movie? No. Oh, gosh. I wish I could remember who directed. I won’t be able to. But, again, it’s a girl who’s kind of obsessed with an outcast, and she has no friends, so she starts she builds 1, out of God.   Todd of human 

Todd:  parts. Wow. 

Craig:  And and that it just kinda reminded me of that. I felt for her, and the end was gut wrenching for me because I believed that she was doing what she was doing out of love Yeah. For this 1 person that she had a connection with, the only person that she had a connection with. And Ariel Winter plays Grace so sweet and likable and vulnerable and sad anyway because she’s sick, and you know that she probably doesn’t have, a long life ahead of her. You know, she makes an attempt to be friendly with her sister. She’s you know, when when, jump rope girl says something really snotty to her sister, Grace says, don’t be mean to my sister Yeah. And, like, pulls her inside. And so I knew what was gonna happen, and I just I thought it was tragic and sad, and it and it it depressed me.   Yeah. 

Todd:  This isn’t one you’re gonna walk away from going, yeah. That was quite a movie. This is when you walk away from going, oh, jeez. 

Craig:  The world sucks. Yeah. Well and and even, you know, had the mom just freaked out and and slaps Pauline again. She slapped her earlier in the movie. But the fact that, you know, she sees this just horrible, horrible scene, her daughter just, you know, mutilated by her other daughter, but the her response is to embrace Pauline. 

Todd:  It it’s almost like she’s seeing Pauline for the first time. Right. You know? She’s really now it it took this Right. To get through to her how deeply disturbed she is and how much more in need of of real help 

Craig:  Well, and 

Todd:  and her ability to help her. 

Craig:  Yeah. And they’re beyond the point of no return. I 

Clip:  mean, 

Craig:  this point. Yeah. Everything is destroyed. 

Todd:  You know, I was impressed that this movie got made. It is an odd film, and I think it probably read better, even better. Let me put it that way. I think it read even better on paper probably than, to my opinion, it came out on screen. This is a director’s 1st film. He’s done 2 more since then. This was based on a short, which I assume he used the short to shop it around. 

Craig:  Mhmm. The guidance counselor was Marlee Matlin. Mhmm. Right? Malcolm McDowell was the math teacher. 

Todd:  Oh my god. 

Craig:  So many you know, we talked about John Waters and all of the others. So many good people. So people clearly must have had some faith in it. 

Todd:  As a first film for anybody, it’s pretty impressive. 

Craig:  Yes. 

Todd:  I mean, it’s impressive in every way, and I think that we’re probably gonna see really good things from this director. And maybe, in my opinion, when the director sort of finds his own voice instead of trying to copy or mimic a certain style, but that’s what you have to do. You start out with everything you do, you’re mimicking until you find your own voice. I think this is promising. It shows that this guy’s got got somewhere to go. 

Craig:  See, and that’s funny because I was gonna say almost just the opposite. I was gonna say what I liked about it, and it was it’s a kind of a hard movie to watch. Mhmm. There are there are funny parts. Like, there’s some so many funny lines that I wrote down that we didn’t get Todd, but she at one point in a dinner scene, Pauline just says out of apropos of nothing, I’m gonna get married someday to a black guy. And and her mom, Craig Lawrence, just said, well, then I hope you’re prepared to be cheated on because African Americans are notoriously adulterous. Like, just and then, like, the husband gives her a love to well, they are. I mean, just silly little one liners like that.   So there is some humor in it. It made me laugh. But what I really liked about it was how different it was from other things that I’ve seen. You know? I so appreciate, especially in the horror genre where we have so many remakes and so many sequels and so many copycat movies, which I watch and enjoy Todd, but I just so appreciate when you see something original. You know, this is a I don’t know. I you know, there’s there’s, like, body horror stuff out there and, mutilation type stuff, but this struck me as being a really unique film. 

Todd:  It is for a horror film. You’re absolutely right, but do you think it’s unique for I mean, if you expand that out because you’re right. You’re absolutely right. This is a very original horror film. But, again, like I said, I I I can think of other nonhorror films that I would relate it to. And in some sense, I don’t know. Do you even would you even categorize this as straight horror? 

Craig:  Because of the level of gore. Mhmm. I would. Okay. But it’s it’s really because it is really gory. It is. Really gory. 

Todd:  Well, and for you to be disturbed 

Craig:  by the level of gore in your 

Todd:  head, that is saying something. 

Clip:  Yeah. We we we took 

Craig:  a break after we watched it, and, Todd’s wife was cooking dinner, and, I said, she’s not a a big fan of the genre, especially violent stuff. And I I said, Vic, I don’t think this would be one that you would have liked. And, I don’t remember what she said, but I said it was pretty gory. And she said, as bad as saw. And I had to pause because it’s not the same kind of graphic violence, but it may be as bloody, if not bloodier 

Todd:  Oh, probably bloodier. Well, yes. Especially since, you know, when we rewatched Saw, we’re kind of amazed at how they weren’t quite that bloody. But but maybe it’s the clinicalness of it. You know, it’s one thing to see the gore and stuff when you’re expecting if somebody gets hacked and slashed in the woods and whatnot, but it’s another thing in a situation where people are being operated on Yeah. People are being sliced open in a in in a clean environment atmosphere very deliberately. You can maybe relate to it more. I suppose, but it taps deep down into those those feelings that 

Craig:  you get where, you know, when 

Todd:  you go into a hospital, this is what you don’t want to happen. Right. 

Craig:  Well and it’s it’s very fantastical too. I mean, it’s gory, but it’s it’s like fantasy 

Todd:  blood. 

Craig:  Yeah. You know? There there there wouldn’t be that much blood in a person. And it’s done, you know, with with with some slow mo, with some interesting lighting choices in the fantasies. It has an artistry to it that is not typical of your typical horror movie. Right. It seems like this director had a strong vision, and and I thought he executed it pretty well. I I I was actually pretty impressed. I don’t know who I would recommend this to.   It’s an odd sort of movie. It’s not it’s not a date movie. It’s not 

Todd:  a it’s not you’re trying to end the engagement. I guess. 

Craig:  It’s it’s not really a popcorn flick. 

Todd:  No. It’s I don’t know. It’s a bit of an ordeal. Yeah. But it is buttressed by the humor in it, and there’s and, you know, we probably we’ve been talking so much about the tragedy, and you’ve mentioned, but there is at least as much humor in this film as there is, you know, gross stuff. Particularly in 

Craig:  the first half. It kind of dwindles a little bit in the second half as as things get a little bit more ominous, but there is quite a lot, and we were laughing out loud pretty regularly. 

Todd:  Yeah. I mean, I think bottom line, I wouldn’t watch it again because I wouldn’t wanna put myself through it again. I I got everything I feel like I needed to get out of this movie, and I feel like I got everything that maybe there is to get out of this movie, but I enjoyed watching it. I was glad we watched it. 

Craig:  Mhmm. 

Todd:  And, it I don’t know. It was maybe the right movie for me to see tonight when I really wasn’t in the mood for something just super intense Right. Action going all the time, unreal. You know? 

Craig:  Yeah. I again, it’s hard to say. It’s hard to say I liked it because it’s such an odd movie, but I think that I might watch it again. Give it some time. I I I definitely need some time to kind of digest and let my stomach settle a little bit, but, you know, years down the road, if it popped up again, I might give it a 2nd viewing. It’s I I almost feel like it merits it, for me, and and I may be wrong. I might watch it again and say he was trying too hard. Uh-huh.   But for on first viewing, that’s not the impression I got. 

Todd:  Yeah. I think you gotta trust your instincts there. You gotta trust that. Well, I think the movie itself was pretty well received overall. I think on Rotten Tomatoes, it’s fairly high ranked. I think the reviews were quite good, you know, kind of in the b b plus range, from people. So and that surprises me, actually. I would think that a movie like this would divide people a lot more.   Mhmm. So I’m surprised it’s been as well received. What I’m shocked by is that I really hadn’t heard of it. 

Craig:  I know. I I’m surprised Todd. And I had heard of it, but only very little. And especially with the cast, you would’ve thought you would’ve thought based on that alone that it would’ve gotten more attention and publicity, but whatever. It didn’t, and now we get to watch it and talk about it. 

Todd:  Yeah. I bet our I bet our listeners would probably appreciate it. 

Craig:  Well, it I think it’s worth seeking out. I mean, if you’re looking for for something different, it is a different type of movie. You might hate it. That’s the thing. Like, I would be kind of resistant to to recommending it to a a wide audience because I think you like you said, I think it’d be really polarizing. I think some people are gonna appreciate it for what it is, and some people are gonna think it’s gross and stupid. I’m on the appreciative side. 

Todd:  Yeah. I think I am too. Thank you again for listening. If you enjoyed what you heard today, please like our page on Facebook. Share it with a friend. You can find us on Itunes or Stitcher. Please subscribe to us in one of those places, and leave a comment for us. We’d love to hear what you think.   Until next week, this is Todd and Craig with 2 Guys and a Chainsaw.

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