The subject matter of Shane Ryan’s 2012 thriller ‘My Name Is A’ By Anonymous could be coined as very disturbing. You could read review after review and everyone will say that the sealing term for the film is chilling. Straight off the bat you realize that what you are watching is not going to be traditionally sane. It is to be noted that this is not your typical horror film, by any means. This film is not fun nor entertaining. It is thought provokingly sad and somewhat brilliant. So what does that mean?
Loosely based on a true event, ‘My Name Is A’ By Anonymous is a tragic low-budget film that descends into a hard watch. On October 21, 2009, fifteen-year-old Alyssa Bustamente killed her nine-year-old neighbor, Elizabeth Olten in Cole County, Missouri. This is the truth of the nature from which the film is based off of. Although Bustamente did the killing on her own, the film takes that and translates it to a story about four different groups of teens who come together in the end to take a young girl’s life. Ryan’s art house horror follows these individuals as they self record some of the events leading up to Olten’s (Kaliya Skye) death.
We have Alyssa (Katie Marsh) and her friend known as The Sidekick (Demi Baumann). These girls love to trash talk each other and self mutilate. Then there’s The Angst (Alex Damiano), a bulimic teen who is constantly abused sexually by her father. Lastly, we have The Performer (Teona Dolnikova), a beautiful aspiring pop star that’s tackling her inner demons. I love the film all the more with this casting and the performances on screen. It is raw and subtle in expression and also harsh when it needs to be. It very much felt like these teenagers were all real people living this out, contemplating suicide, and taping every little detail of their lives. The film is dancing around a very real subject matter, so as my thoughts cringe, I realize just how good the film is.
With much of its cinematography shot by the cast through video cameras and cell phones, ‘My Name Is A’ By Anonymous takes many visual risks. It even features a full length music video sung by The Performer, which would have hurt the film less if it weren’t so long. Many times I found myself confused with its choice of cuts and extra footage. The balance between mindless and heart breaking scenes is clearly there.
It’s only when the film is over with that you understand what it was communicating to you all along. I’m not saying it is one of the best overshadowed films, but it is definitely one to remember. Films like this don’t come around too often. ‘My Name Is A’ By Anonymous is remarkable at getting our attention, for sure. It is both alarming and peculiar when you take a step back to look at the bigger picture of this horrific story.
I had to be patient with this movie because I know that it is going for such a far reach with the sensitive subject. This is a docu-drama kind of deal where a real life murder has been made into the main focus. I guess you can interpret the film however you want. I have seen Ryan’s work get scrutinized for its dark content. You can say that he is a controversial filmmaker. Ultimately, I have to agree with what the other critics are saying. It is exceptionally well made, well acted, and well felt in our hearts. You will watch this in silence and think about how well disguised the dark nature of a human can be.