LIKE ME: A Visual Spectacle That Doesn’t Need You To Like It
Like Me is a visual spectacle that delves into the dark underbelly of social media, showing the lengths that people will go to in order to feel accepted on the internet.
At the end of Like Me, I felt as if I had awoken from a feverish dream. It was as if the contents of all my angsty deleted social media pages had been revived and used to fuel nightmares. Was the point to open my eyes to the ugly side of social media that we all knows exists? In a society obsessed with achieving fame by any means necessary, Like Me is the best at portraying the worst.
Millennial Madness Sparked by the Internet
If you want to make a splash with your directorial debut, Robert Mockler shows you how to do it. From beginning to end, Like Me is a disturbingly gorgeous view into the world of Kiya (Addison Timlin) – a sociopath with a social media obsession. Always armed with a camera, Kiya’s life revolves around her image online.
There are plenty of ways to gain internet stardom, but Kiya decides to go on a crime spree. From the beginning, the audience is told that Kiya isn’t normal. In fact, Kiya is deranged. In her first act of crime, she terrorizes a clerk in a convenience store (Jeremy Gardner). While she is recording, the clerk tries to appease her sick game by acting silly for the camera. Masked, she remains silent. As she places a gun to his head and he begins to cry in fear, Kiya finally begins to laugh.
The following morning, Kiya checks her social media accounts. Her video has gone viral with over a million views. Her video sparks hundreds of reaction videos – ranging from amusement to absolute disgust. One of the reactions comes from Burt (Ian Nelson), another sociopath revolted by Kiya and her followers. Burt’s venomous message only inspires Kiya to outdo her first video. Her next string of videos feature Marshall (Larry Fessenden), the owner of the hotel she visits. Marshall, lured by Kiya’s attractiveness, is used as a toy in her nausea-inducing quest for notoriety.
A Dark Film Ruled by Colorful Imagery
While each actor gives a solid performance in this film, the real stars are the cinematography (James Siewert) and production design (Colin O’Brien). Similar to a carefully curated Instagram or Tumblr, Like Me is aesthetically pleasing regardless of the substance. Every single shot is carefully coordinated, and Kiya’s outfits always compliment her surroundings. If you need a masterclass on using color in film, this would be it. The visuals of this film are on trend with the millennial fascination with neon colors, geometric shapes, and minimalist imagery. I wouldn’t be surprised if I see stills from Like Me all over Tumblr!
Another feat in Like Me is its mixture of mediums. Robert Mockler decides to integrate found footage, traditional animation, and 3-D animation into the live-action sequences in the film. Kiya’s exploits are often performed under a drug-induced state, and Mockler invites the audience to see what she sees. Kiya seems as if she is in a dream. The line between reality and the imagination is constantly blurred. If I close my eyes, I can still see some of the striking images from the film. More than the plot itself, the visuals of Like Me aren’t easy to forget. They haunt you long after the film has ended.
Who’s Worse: The Creator or the Consumer?
Following a trend in films depicting the dangers of social media, Like Me is perhaps the most bizarre. Similar to films like Nerve, The Circle, Unfriended, and Ingrid Goes West, Like Me portrays the dark side of our internet-driven culture and the even darker side of human nature.
Burt brings up a valid point when he asks Who’s worse?: Kiya or the people giving her the attention she desperately craves? In a day and age where so many people are attention-starved, who is sicker? The attention-seekers, or the attention givers? Sure, what Kiya is doing is wrong, but would she still do it if she knew no one would pay attention to her? In a montage of YouTube reaction videos, some reasonable viewers are horrified by Kiya’s actions. Many more, though, find entertainment in them. Many of those people knew what she was doing was wrong too, but they couldn’t look away, and some even supported her.
In one scene, Kiya reads the list of comments from her video of Marshall. Marshall actually takes amusement to some, but Kiya ends bluntly: “A lot of people are saying I should shoot you.” She actually ponders the suggestion – much to Marshall’s shock. Are we really so desensitized now that actually shooting someone on camera is entertaining? Why is someone else’s pain used for the sake of going viral? It’s the modern equivalent of a match between gladiators.
Like Me: A Lot of Questions Go Unanswered
While the message of Like Me is easy to pick up, the story leaves a lot to the imagination. Even the characters ask questions within the film as Kiya begins to spiral out of control! What drive’s Kiya’s lust for attention besides “likes” and comments? Where is the law enforcement? Where is Kiya’s family? And lastly, after Kiya hits an all-time low to achieve notoriety, where does she go from there (I won’t spoil the ending for you.)?
Like Me is an acquired taste kind of film. There are many who will love it, and others who will just not “get it”. I’m sure the filmmakers don’t seem concerned about being liked, though. However, I still think you should give it a shot. It’s a unique experience that shouldn’t be missed.
Do you think you will like Like Me? Have you had a chance to see it yet? Comment below?
Like Me received a limited release in New York and Los Angeles in January of this year. You can check here for more release dates.
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