Inspired by true events. A nine year old girl disappears and is later found murdered. The movie exploits the events leading up to the death of the girl, why did it happen? What lies beneath? Was the parenting of the young perpetrators to blame or was it their need to be seen. Are they even an invention of the imagination and not real?
Sweet jumping butter beans……I don’t know HOW to review this film! In order to review a movie, said movie generally needs to have some sort of a flow to its story, yes? Problem is: this one hits more as an art film, than a run-of-the-mill movie, per se. It really starts off pretty well. We open on a few short scenes of various fairly young adolescents walking and talking along some roadways. The scenery smacks of low-brow California towns and one feels just a tinge of late 70’s-esque photography with the throwback title screne (My Name Is ‘A’ by anonymous) and a few hard-to-read opening credits.
This thing smacks of teen-angst-ridden-craziness from the get-go. But, the problem is that, it’s ‘get’ really never gets ‘going’! I liked how, early in, each kid is holding some kind of a digital camera or smart phone and there’re loads of little bits of one kid filming another kid just goofing off, singing, dancing or whatever; that felt inspired. Also early in, we see a title reading, ‘Chapter 1’, so you know just by that, this one is getting ready to roll, right? Wrong!
Teenagers hanging out, filming each other near a dumpster, or just randomly insulting each other needs to serve some kind of purpose. Technically speaking, there’s really very little dialogue in this movie. Around the end of Act 1,there was a scene that held some promise depicting two girls (fully clothed, mind you), with smeared mascara, sitting together in a bathtub engaging in a joint “cutting” session. Although I’ve had much experience working in mental health, I’m not an expert on self-abuse, but I will say even the sparse commentary found here really showed some dramatic potential and I think a solid writer could have run with this premise; but alas, it just falls flat a short time later.
Farther into Act 2, there’re some smattered bits of a lovely young Latina women singing (in Spanish) in a music-video type bit and that’s OK, I guess. The whole business then oddly transitions to another young female eating an Oreo cookie. I will throw the director a bone here: when the woman put the cookie in her mother (probably, barely a woman, but never mind that) I just got the sense of something is amiss here. I can’t tell you how that was conveyed…maybe the extreme close-up, I dunno. But, sure enough, a few seconds later, we find her vomiting into a glass jar (I’m pretty sure it wasn’t special effects, either) and then we transition to her standing naked in the shower.
Now, I’ve never met the young actress seen there nor do I know what she looked like 2 weeks before that scene was shot, but I really believe this young lady has an eating disorder. Her emaciated form was clearly apparent, and it’s hard to think that any paid-for-work actress would’ve done that to herself for a (probably) non-marketed indie film. If that young lady reads this review, I hope it was just ‘method acting’, but if not, I sure hope she gets some professional help….and soon.
To loop back, I would say that any young filmmaker could view the first 10 minutes of this film and use it as a study on the value of camera angles and such. The early camera work really did establish a kind-of mood….I just can’t see evidence that said mood ever went anywhere meaningful Without an ounce of snark, I’ll throw this out there: if I missed something in this film….something concrete or symbolic or abstract or well-defined or ironic or whatever that has made my review unfair, please leave me a comment and I’ll be glad to revise or retract of whatever I might need to do. This one just falls into the category entitled, “Huh?”
For some reason this catches my attention. I’m curious does it have the same uneasy vibe as, Girl Next Door, Bully, or River’s Edge? Is there a film you can compare this to?
I saw the latter two as a child and they’ve always stuck with me ( frightened me more than any slasher, haunted house, or monster). Even on a single viewing those three films will haunt you long after. Truly terrifying.
I can say that ‘Bully’ had a MUCH BETTER glued together story-line than this film might ever hope to have!