DVD REVIEW: MY NAME IS ‘A’ BY ANONYMOUS / CERT: TBC / DIRECTOR: SHANE RYAN / SCREENPLAY: SHANE RYAN / STARRING: KATIE MARSH, DEMI BAUMANN, TEONA DOLNIKOVA, ALEX DAMIANO / RELEASE DATE: TBC
It’s to this film’s credit that I watched My Name is ‘A’ by Anonymous for ten whole minutes before I realised that it wasn’t actually a documentary. Based on the real life murder of 9-year-old Elizabeth Olten by her teenage neighbour, this (sort of) found footage (sort of) fauxumentary makes for harrowing viewing on a par with the majestically depressing Snowtown, Megan is Missing and Boys Don’t Cry.
Self-harm, bulimia and rape make up just a few of the all-too real issues tackled here, culminating in a heartless and brutal murder of a small girl by the disturbed teenagers she trusted. While the murder itself isn’t particularly graphic, it’s presented in a manner that should stick in its viewers’ minds for a long time afterwards. A mix of found footage, gonzo punk, intimate, more ‘traditional’ filming techniques and – most bizarrely – segue into music video, it may make for uncomfortable viewing, but it’s never anything less than arresting.
That’s not, in any way, to say that My Name is ‘A’ is an enjoyable experience. Indeed, ‘experience’ is the only way to describe the viewing process where a film like this is concerned. Even when nothing is really happening onscreen (which is a lot, in a minimalist, realistic arthouse sort of way) there’s the unsettling atmosphere and knowledge of the atrocities which are soon to be headed to one’s screen. Parents and older siblings will be particularly affected by this film; while it never excuses its protagonists’ behaviour or crimes, we’re left saddened for them nevertheless, horrified by their nihilistic outlook and dreading the inevitable outcome. It slides next to the rest of director Shane Ryan’s unique filmography, nestling between the Amateur Porn Star Killer trilogy and Warning!!! Paedophile Released as a curiosity of independent cinema that one will never forget having watched, no matter how little you enjoyed it.
Not easy viewing, then. My Name is ‘A’ for Anonymous is an impressive bit of cinema verite (even when its artifice does show) but it will be just too real for some, whether it’s the ugly visuals or even uglier dark reality of the story. A powerful, poignant examination of all-too-real evil, this grim little documentary left me (in spite of a strong whiff of pretentiousness) shaken and desperately wanting to sit down my teenage sister for a long chat and a hug.
Special Features: TBC
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