IMDB description: “A young woman sets out on a crime spree that she broadcasts on social media.”
Why I took it off the List: I find it fascinating that there has been an increasing number of films and series in recent years that deals with the destructive pull of social media and how it can warp our behavior into acting in questionable ways in order to present an idealized version of our lives and garner as many ‘likes’ as possible.
Like Me promised an even darker look at the phenomena by following an extreme example of a girl determined to push dangerous boundaries to garner as much online exposure as possible. So I was curious to check it out to see how it compared to the other films and series in this rapidly expanding subgenre.
Not many, I’d read a couple of reviews about the film and heard mixed things. Most people were in agreement that the film had 2 keys strengths: Addison Timlin’s central performance and a striking visual style. Others were more divided over the quality of the narrative and the artsy approach taken to the material.
Nevertheless, being a fan of the underrated Timlin after the excellent Little Sister (2016), I decided to give it a go and form an opinion of my own!
Review of Like Me
Like Me is set at Christmas, but protagonist Kiya is not exactly full of the festive spirit. We first meet her as a masked figure tormenting an obnoxious clerk at a remote gas station, who doesn’t exactly take her slight frame and refusal to put down her live-streaming mobile entirely seriously. However, he soon discovers that she won’t leave him alone until she gets what she came for: his utter humiliation caught on camera.
It makes a lot of sense that we spend the first chunk of the film with our protagonist largely silent and hidden behind a freaky mask: Kiya is a bit of an enigma throughout. After uploading her random attack on social media, it becomes clear that her motive was simply to provoke as much of an online reaction as possible. She seems happy with the results, although somewhat perturbed by one particularly vitriolic detractor.
Whether she considers her experiment a success, one thing is clear: the response she managed to garner was nowhere near enough for her, and she needs more. So she sets out to outdo her previous provocation in increasingly disturbing ways, including with a bizarre and somewhat cruel interaction with a homeless man, and most prominently, a prolonged ordeal with a motel manager.
That’s about all there is to the plot of Like Me, but although the story is sparse, writer/director Robert Mockler still manages to say plenty about the corrosive influence of social media, disconnection, and becoming dependent on online interaction for a sense of worth.
Visually Striking and Elevated by Addison Timlin’s Performance
Like I said above, Kiya remains a bit of an enigma throughout Like Me. Arguably the biggest insight into the character is when she tells a little girl at a gas station, “You shouldn’t play with strangers, you might have too much fun.“
It’s not clear what exactly she is getting out of her twisted escapades, why she gets off on such extreme behavior, and if she even is ‘having too much fun’. By the end of the film, it certainly doesn’t seem like it, but it almost takes that long for Kiya herself to realize that, which is maybe the point.
Although she remains a somewhat unknowable figure, Addison Timlin certainly gives it her all at shading Kiya with nuance and suggesting the possible sources of her damaged psyche below a somewhat sinister, sweetly cool-headed facade.
Timlin is greatly helped in fleshing out her character’s fractured nature by Mockler’s impressive visual flair. He shades the locales of the unknown city that Kiya finds herself in a hyperreal sickly neon. He also uses a variety of camera tricks and vivid, disorientating close-ups that expertly conveys the feeling of sinking into a particularly nightmarish rabbit hole, helped by a throbbing techno score that equally gets under the skin.
The surprising final scene also manages to ultimately make the tale a satisfying one. All these stylistic flourishes are suddenly stripped away for a sparse and sobering conclusion that conveys the feeling of emptiness that Kiya is surely left with once her influencer ambitions have definitively evaporated.
Final Score: 6.5/10
Worth Checking Out?
Yes, Like Me is a strange little psychological thriller that sticks in the mind largely thanks to its striking visual style and immersive atmosphere. Also, Addison Timlin continues to prove herself as a wry and engaging actress.
Nevertheless, the artsy approach and lack of definitive conclusions may put off those looking for a more conventional thriller.
Like Me (2017)
Written and directed by Robert Mockler
Check out my next review for my opinion on a fun horror/thriller set in an exotic locale!