Based on the horrifying true story of the murder of 10-year-old Elizabeth Olten in 2009, director Shane Ryan's very disturbing 2012 indie, isn't really about the murder itself, it is really about the bleak depiction of misplaced, disaffected youth. Ryan dares you to look away, as he centers his remarkable storytelling gifts on a group of lost girls who were not only responsible for the crime, but also on their own twisted lives of very dysfunctional, and often misunderstood emotional/mental discomfort. It evokes the "spirit" of such classics as Last House on the Left (1972), The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974), and Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986), especially because of its raw, chillingly honest documentary feel. The way it's shot also makes you feel like you're watching a snuff movie.
The group of girls consists of two bickering best friends who spend their days arguing, cursing each other off, and cutting themselves, in order to past the time. Another is an often-confused Spanish singer who is trying to figure out her place in the world. The fourth is an extremely anoxeric, often-wasted young girl who spends her time constantly vomiting and dealing with unusally aggressive boyfriend. Their lives eventually connect, not only because of the fact that they all bond and hang out with Elizabeth, but all of their lives are really unfullfilled and descenting into very dark paths.
Director Ryan doesn't exactly shy away of the really graphic nature of the content shown in the film, and he has a really unique way of showing the very modern, dark side of troubled youth. The many scenes of rape, self-mutilation, isolation, language, violence, and the eventual murder is really difficult to sit through, but it does creates a conversation piece that allows to find your own interpretation of the really cruel subject matter.
What makes this film stand out, in its own very chilling way, is that it does explain the reasons why the girls committed the murder in the first place; they are forgotten people who relieve their boredom by engaging in most things that many other people their age wouldn't even think about. It's very creepy to think about of how the audience watching this film, especially people from ages 15-18 will find themselves relating to the girls, because they are people that you probably know in school, see walking down the streets, and they could also related to you. That's a really scary feeling.
The DVD is packed with many special features, including two alternate versions of the film, titled "The Columbine Effect" and "I Hate Me, Myself and Us", a deleted scene, an alternate scene, an alternate music scene, a music video, a music video spotlight with Teona Dolnikova (internationally famous singer who plays the singer named "The Performer"), and two short films: "Isolation," and a very grisly Japanese film called "Oni-Gokko" (English title: Tag). Rounding out the remaining features are trailers for Wild Eye Entertainment films, including the trailer for My Name is A, The Owl in Echo Park, Final Entries, The Turnpike Killer, and Blood Soaked. I would have liked to have seen a making of documentary about the movie, and intervies, but as far as bonuses go, you could do a lot worse.
If you wanted to see, or in this case, experience a horrifyingly real and daring expose of the lost, alienated generation, you'll hard pressed to find one as depressing, bold, well-made, and extreme as this little gem of a shocker, that makes Shane Ryan one of the most underrated, talented, and new filmmakers to come along in years.