My Name is “A” By Anonymous is a disturbing, unsettling film that explores the consequences of adolescence gone awry. Based on real events, its plot is an adaption of the story of Alyssa Bustamante, the teenage thrill killer from Missouri who killed her neighbour, 9-year old Elizabeth Olten in October 2009. Obviously with such touchy subject matter, My Name is “A” By Anonymous is no light viewing. It drags the viewer into the demented world of young girls who commit violence against themselves and others whilst looking at the conditions which lead to these extreme acts.
There is Alyssa (Katie Marsh) and her friend, simply named the “The Sidekick” (Demi Baumann), who appear deluded and underwhelmed, turning to sadism and violence to fulfil themselves. We are also introduced to “The Angst” (Alex Damiano), a young women plagued by bulimia and “The Performer” (Teona Dolniova), who frequently self-mutilates herself and is sexually abused by her father. Together their collective struggles come together to remind us at the end of the film that the little girl killed is not just a victim of impulsive, mentally unstable young girls, but of a society that still struggles to address those who aren’t given the help they need until it is too late. This film concerns itself not so much with the horrendous acts committed, but the seemingly culturally bereft teenage wasteland the characters inhabit which fuels their angst and aggravates their despair, loneliness, hostility and isolation. Others have compared the film to cult classics like Kids and Gummo and this is a just comparison in that, like these films, My Name is ”A” By Anonymous takes a candid look at youthful dysfunction, tackling morbid subjects like self-mutilation, mental and physical abuse, sexuality and disorder.
Cinematically the film is appropriately stylised by director Shane Ryan to deal with the unnerving nature of the film. It flaunts an openly lo-fi, low-budget aesthetic with the use of shaky camera shots and found footage entrenching the viewer within the lives of these young girls through voyeuristic use of the camera which makes us feel like we are right there with them in the story. In the film the girls regularly talk into the camera, which not only helps to give us an insight into their confused and disturbed psyches but also provides poignant commentary on the way technology and social media impacts on today’s youth. The performances of the main cast are the strong point of the film, delivering their lines in a believable and frank fashion and lending the film its disquieting realism.
All of these qualities make the film raw and heartbreakingly honest, pulling no punches in its portrayal of the frayed ends of teenage sanity. While it is a brave and poetic look at subject matter most filmmakers would recoil in horror from there were times it felt like it sometimes fell short in its execution. The film could occasionally be excessive in its art-house tendencies with its long ponderous shots just seeming that little bit too much as to distract from the pace of the story. The soundtrack also felt misplaced at times as if it missed the emotional mark it was trying to hit the viewers with but it would be wrong to say that this was the case for the entirety of the movie.
A harrowing, uncompromising film, it may be hard for the viewer to get their heads around it upon first viewing but it’s still a morbidly fascinating film and sombre depiction of the depravity and melancholy which marks too many young people’s lives.
- Alternate cuts of the film
- Deleted scenes
- Alternate scenes
- Music videos
- Short films
DIRECTOR(S): Shane Ryan | COUNTRY: USA| YEAR: 2012| DISTRIBUTOR(S): MVD | RUNNING TIME: 90 minutes