Attempts to integrate real sex into nonporn movies tend toward two modes: campy subcultural satires (John Waters, Bruce La Bruce) or pessimistic investigations into human nature (Caligula, Catherine Breillat). Todd Verow’s hardcore Anonymous falls into the latter camp, though it partakes in the zero-budget, seedy aesthetic of the former.

After Frisk (1995), his adaptation of Dennis Cooper’s novel, Verow produced, shot, and distributed over a dozen video features, earning a reputation as a poster boy for DV self-determination. Anonymous is the first time he has cast himself as protagonist, and his first film since Frisk with a gay story line. Verow plays a projectionist—also named Todd—who obsessively engages in Internet hookups until his boyfriend (Dustin Schell) discovers his indiscretions. Thrown out of his apartment, Todd wanders homeless, using sexual partners for shelter.

Given Verow’s breakneck technique—he often juggles more than three productions at once—it’s perhaps no wonder that his work frequently centers on addictive-compulsive activities. As the latest Verow quickie, Anonymous is relatively thin on conventional story and acting (the cast ranges from indie thesp Craig Chester to transsexual flaming creature Amanda Lepore) and thick with atmosphere. Sordid beatings, joyless sex, and a sullen synth score create the air of a home-brewed ’60s sexploitation-noir flick, or a pre-Stonewall pulp homosexual novel, complete with narrative clichés and the occasional bit of ugly beauty.