Alyssa and her sidekick are inseparable. It is quickly established the sidekick will be mostly silent, she does everything Alyssa does from putting on the same make up and they take turns cutting each other. The girls are both strawberry blond teens and are quick to anger. Two unnamed others come along, The Angst (Alex Damiano) and The Performer (Teona Dolnikova). The girls all have similar likes and behaviors-such as make-up style, self destructiveness through cutting, etc… The thing is Alyssa is a shattered girl and try as she might the world has a way of keeping the teens on the ropes. Based on the true story of a teenage thrill killer, MY NAME IS A BY ANONYMOUS tackles the question of motivation. Not why so much as why not or maybe even why not sooner?
Alyssa is a girl who never had a chance. She has been neglected, psychologically, physically, and sexually abused. She’s fractured and bounces from highs to lows. Her only interactions are with her sidekick, Angst and Performer. They are not uplifting or fun as much as volatile and destructive. Each of the girls practices some form of self-harm. All seem to cut and each display other maladaptions. It is painful watching Alex Damiano playing the angsty bulimic. She forces herself to throw up into mason jars and keeps them on a shelf. She looks frighteningly skinny as she showers and is terrificly disturbing throughout the whole film. Teona is the consummate performer. She is always just barely keeping it together to pass as mostly “normal.”
Eventually the line between the four begins to blur as sidekick and Alyssa don identical makeup and Teona the performer turns around with a start at the sound of a knock and the door is answered by the Angst who is soon weeping and begging her father to stop molesting her to no avail. When Alyssa plays a CD it is actually a song by Performer-presented complete and like a music video interlude. The line disappears entirely as young Elizabeth (Kaliya Skye) is escorted to her unavoidable fate.
The actors acquit themselves adequately with Damiano pretty much stealing the show. It is painful to watch her and I mean that as a compliment and not a critique. Much of the camera work is done by the actors as well as the primary cameraman Arturo Guerrero. The shots are framed tightly and though I think it could have benefited by taking a step or two back I can see where the closeness of the shots help enhance intimacy with the characters as well as claustrophobia.
MY NAME IS A is a stark and haunting portrayal of a teen who has become horribly lost. Not quite a horror film but a quite horrifying film for sure. Most of the film is presented as found footage style shaky cam and some of the scenes involving Angst and Performer are not presented as such and jar the viewer out of the narrative a bit, as though warning you to keep your distance, while lending to the ethereal nature of the two. This movie will alter your mood. There is no question about that. If it doesn’t make you angry or melancholy it will leave you questioning what goes on in society today. It pushes and pulls you out of your comfort zone and leaves a hollow feeling by the time the closing credits roll. Snapshots appear throughout the end credits and if you are familiar with the real life case you will recognize that the pictures are the movies Alyssa miming the real life killer. This added bonus makes the experience all the more uncomfortable. This well executed flick will be coming to you from the folks at Wild Eye Releasing.