“Welcome to the Dollhouse” stars Heather Matarazzo, Brandon McCarthy Jr., Daria Kalinina, Mathew Faber, and many other unknowns. It’s written and directed by Tod Solondz, who directed the widely overlooked film “Fear, Anxiety, and Depression”.

Dawn Wiener (Heather Matarazzo) is a homely 7th grader who is constantly ridiculed at school because of her appearance. Her older brother has a band with a lead singer that is in High School who Dawn falls in love with, but is soon rejected for a older, more attractive woman. Her younger sister is favored by her parents and is always getting Dawn in trouble. This leads to many difficult situations that this young girl has to face, all in her tender preteen years.

This is heavy material to be working with. It examines the disturbing look at a tormented girl’s struggle to survive the bitter world of adolescence. This was a supremely casted picture, featuring a young and all around talented cast. This is a harsh and sobering adult dramedy with a very well written script. The young Heather Matarazzo is the real spotlight here, proving her comfort on screen by seeming unaware that the camera is on her most of the time. This isn’t only a successful attempt at telling a honest and powerful story that is sure to be engaging, but it is also timidly disturbing.

One of the main reasons why independent films are usually so great is because they are rarely trite and usually very well done. While some of the scenes are mildly funny, others are horrifyingly realistic. Director Tod Solondz puts on screen a disturbingly thought-provoking film that is both honest and frightening. Don’t be surprised if you feel like the ending was incomplete. I pretty sure this is what Solondz wanted.

This movie is much too awkward to dislike. It is a little bit vapid here and there, but it’s mostly engaging from beginning to end. This is a strong film that’s a shockingly accurate portrait at how cruel kids can be to one another and how deeply this effects them. A smart and harrowing work of art that takes you back to the torturous time known as Junior High.