Like Me

Like Me is a neon soaked phantasmagoria. It’s a fever dream coated in candy and vomit. Hallucinogenic and grimy, it worms its way into the brain via the eyes and then refuses to leave. It’s the sort of thing that, based on the synopsis, should flit past leaving no real imprint and yet its method is more insidious.  

Like me is the debut from writer/director Robert Mockler.  It stars Addison Timlin (Odd Thomas,  The Town that Dreaded Sundown) ad Kiya, a disaffected youth obsessed with view and likes on the internet.  At the outset of the film Kiya puts on a Purge mask and menaces a night clerk at a convenience store until the poor fellow urinates on himself. She  then posts the video online. We see Kiya get a sort of high from the adulation she receives. Then we see it fade when another online personality named Burt (Ian Nelson) takes her down a few pegs in a rant.  

Soon enough she goes looking for another fix. This time she checks into a seedy motel. She takes the motel owner, Marshall (Larry Fessenden) hostage after luring him to her room with the promise of sex. Kiya binds him and force feeds him candy until he vomits. This video brings her even more acclaim than the previous one, so she takes Marshall as a captive and starts to drive cross country. Here Like Me becomes a very weird road movie.

Marshall and Kiya start to form a very strange bond as they travel. They talk about themselves, about their lives up to the moment they met, and about what they both want from the future. At times it seems like Marshall is more a companion and less a hostage.

That feeling doesn’t last, though. Kiya need for internet love means escalation. The audience is fickle. They will not be satisfied with a replay of things that they have seen before. They need more. Always more; bigger; more shocking; more extreme entertainments.  They are exactly like us, because they are us.

Like Me is, obviously, an attack on internet culture, online fame and the excess that it breeds. More subtly, though, it is also an attack on their audience. Horror movies creep into darker, weirder, more outrĂ© territory because audiences become jaded. We’ve seen Cannibal Holocaust. How are you going to shock us now? We stand accused.

Like Me works on two levels (as noted above), which is rare. Generally this sort of thing becomes heavy handed and didactic, but this movie avoids that via a few tricks. One is the visual insanity. We get flashing neon, extreme closeups at high frame rates, tilting and twisting angles, flashes of hallucinogenic imagery, bits of animation. It keeps it you off balance, and feeling just a bit tipsy.

The next trick this movie has it its quiver is the performances.  Timlin is very good as Kiya. She embues the character with a realism and a sadness that grounds the proceedings. The standout, though is Fessenden a Marshall.  For those who don’t know, Fessenden is a director and producer known for films like the marvelous Wendigo (which we will cover here at a later date). He builds Marshall around grimy pathos, wasted potential, bone deep sadness, and regret. The performance is not big. It’s mostly internal, and quiet, and very effective. These two characters seem like they are meant to find each other and we’re pretty lucky to get to watch how it all plays out.