Combustible Celluloid
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With: Addison Timlin, Ian Nelson, Larry Fessenden, Jeremy Gardner
Written by: Robert Mockler
Directed by: Robert Mockler
MPAA Rating: NR
Running Time: 85
Date: 01/26/2018

Like Me (2018)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Views and Kills

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Somewhat plotless and more like experimental cinema, this dark, unsettling piece takes an unusual, colorful, and arty look at millennial narcissism and loneliness, with hypnotically compelling results.

In Like Me, Kiya (Addison Timlin) decides to make videos of a series of random acts, posting them online. She begins by donning a creepy mask and holding up a convenience store, humiliating the clerk in the process. Then she takes a homeless man out for a meal and tries to get him to tell her a story. Meanwhile, another video blogger, Burt (Ian Nelson) berates her mercilessly.

She checks into a hotel with colorfully painted rooms and pretends to seduce the proprietor, Marshall (Larry Fessenden). But she ties him to the bed and forces him to eat junk food until he vomits; she films it and posts the video. She then kidnaps Marshall and takes him on the road. They talk and tell stories and do drugs. But when her pet rat escapes, Marshall takes the opportunity to escape as well. Finally, Kiya decides to meet Burt in person and give him a piece of her mind.

Newcomer writer/director Robert Mockler uses twitchy video pieces — a second or two of footage jerking back and forth — throughout Like Me, sprinkling bits of disturbing behavior in-between the segments; this makes them seem even more dislocated and less like a story. Occasional oddities, like a campfire turning into a bank of glowing television monitors, further the strangeness.

But it's Timlin who creates the throughline. She's bemused, often curious, sometimes unsure, and always compelling, even as her actions become more and more unhinged. Her unlikely friendship with Marshall (the cult horror favorite Fessenden, who looks very much like crazy Jack Nicholson here) also provides some emotional pull. In one scene, Kiya nearly shows evidence of her crime to a little girl, simply to make a connection.

But in the final scene, Mockler lets the camera linger for a long time on the image of a beach; there's no more video feed, no more artiness... just some hard reality.

Kino Lorber's Blu-ray release features a video transfer that isn't quite as bold as I expected, given the bright colors of the movie, but that's more due to the low-res video of the production than any fault in the Blu-ray; it's pretty much just as intended. The audio mix is without fault. There's a short, 5-minute "making of" video that's more of a collection of random behind-the-scenes stuff than anything coherent. The disc also includes a photo gallery and trailers.

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