3.5 stars out of 5
So this is something I had been excited about because the director also made a short film that came out in 2011 to a decent amount of praise called Foxes. For something that was only a scant handful of minutes long, it had an excellent sense of the uncanny and from that short I could tell that this director had a great full-length horror film in him.
For a while at the beginning of Without Name, we get to know the main character only through observing that he leads a bog-standard life: wife, child, car, house, job, et cetera. The compulsion placed on people by modern society to assimilate a certain way and lead your life according to a set of social expectations is half of the horror in this thing, honestly. I almost began to feel like it was taking a route to introducing our protagonist that was too generic, but I think that feeling of complete mundanity was what was intended to come through.
The main theme of this whole affair is that we've been away from nature for so long that it's started to feel uncomfortably foreign to the majority of us. The contrast between urban and rural living is such that the paltry amount of flora and fauna the average person might see in a day (trees and shrubs in traffic circles/roundabouts, the occasional deer or rabbit if you live in a greener part of the suburbs) is no comparison to what's truly out there, I.E. the forest that the main character in Without Name works in as a land surveyor. The film itself all but states outright that this feeling of cognitive dissonance in city-bred humans is what it was going for.
Despite its success in being atmospheric and immersive, Without Name is not quite without flaws. There were times when I felt that the narrative was taking a route that was obvious and easy, and there's no shame in doing something easy as long as you do it well, but for a film that had a lot of complex layering, it felt out of place. The shroom-tripping sequences in particular, while relevant to the plot, were used as a quick way to get the main character into an altered state of consciousness wherein there would be context for his seeing and feeling bizarre, supernatural things. And the romance between the main character and a younger woman he worked with was painfully obvious, and I had to commend both of them for wonderful acting all around, but it still felt like that affair was an artifact from a lesser movie that didn't have any place there.