The film follows disturbed teen, Pauline (AnnaLynne McCord). She is a total outsider--unpopular, frumpy, and overall unpleasant. She dreams to one day become a surgeon, as she's obsessed with blood and biology. She doesn't seem to care for much except for her younger sister, Grace (Ariel Winter), who has Cystic Fibrosis and isn't doing all that well. Unfortunately, her mother, Phyllis (Traci Lords), is an overbearing, short-tempered nutcase, and they don't get along at all. Even her father, Bob (Roger Bart), is overpowered by his temperamental wife. Her mom knows there's something wrong, but she won't pay for a professional psychiatrist, so she sends Pauline to their priest (John Waters). And she also butts heads with her math teacher (Malcolm McDowell), sex ed teacher (Matthew Gray Gubler), and principal (Ray Wise). The film follows the family drama through Pauline's eyes as she tries to survive on a day-to-day basis... but her mother just makes her psychological problems worse and worse.
Now, you might be thinking "This doesn't sound that bad." Well, I have yet to mention the bizarre, Jodorowsky-esque dream sequences of her glamorized self in gory or sexualized (often a mixture) situations. Or the fact she has wet dreams/orgasms to the thought (or dreams) of sexing up dead or dying bodies in puddles of blood. Or any number of other mixture of blood and sex that happens throughout this film. And then there's the third act, which I won't spoil.
The acting in this film is phenomenal. Of course, AnnaLynne McCord totally sells this psychotic teen persona. But what's great about it is that while something is definitely wrong with her, you can tell she also just wants to feel loved and accepted, and her mother could easily help turn things around if she just tried (or had the mental capability of trying). This is truly a mother/daughter story, and both are basically sociopaths in their own ways. And none of it would work if it weren't for Traci Lords, who acts the hell out of this movie. You want to strangle this woman from scene one. To bring in a Harry Potter reference, she would be like what would happen if Delores Umbridge was a mother. Traci Lords makes the role work, though, and doesn't take it over-the-top of like something from Mommy Dearest. Everyone else is good, too. It's fun to see John Waters as a priest, and Malcolm McDowell as the math teacher is funny. Ray Wise is just goofy.
Though the thing that I haven't mentioned yet... is that this is a comedy. A very, very, very, very dark comedy, but a comedy nonetheless. There are situations of pure drama, and everything in this movie is pretty horrific--particularly the ending (and no, it's probably not what you think). But even if you look on IMDb, its first genre billing is comedy (then drama, then horror). And I can see that. It's definitely more of a dark dramedy, as it's not really your laugh-out-loud, knee-slapper kind of fare. But the dark humor is there, and it can be awfully amusing at times, despite the fact the people you're watching are, at times, despicable and/or psychotic.
If you're a fan of twisted, bizarre, or just plain screwed-up films, this is one you need to check out. I haven't been able to stop thinking about it since I watched it yesterday (as of this writing), so it's definitely a conversation piece. People declare it as a new type of horror film, and I can see that. It's drama-horror, which is something you don't really see. The closest comparison I can make is We Need To Talk About Kevin, but way more extreme and unsettling (and, at times, amusing). Do not see it if you have a weak stomach (it's not like Saw or Hostel or anything--it's not "torture porn"--but there are some pretty disturbing images nonetheless). Do not see it if you're easily disturbed. But if these things don't bother you, definitely check it out. The acting alone is worth it.
A Keanu 'Whoa'