Sarah Pirozek is no stranger to the world of filmmaking, having directed the documentary Free Tibet, several short films, television episodes, and commercials. #LIKE is her first narrative feature and DAMN, what a good way to enter into the world of narrative filmmaking. I have to be honest. I wasn’t really sure what to expect with this movie when I went in, only reading a brief synopsis. I thought it would be much more of a “teen” movie than it actually is. Not saying there’s anything wrong with teen movies, it’s just that a lot of them are exactly the same and don’t offer a lot of fresh perspectives. I was wrong about my preconceptions on all accounts.
The first twenty minutes or so do feel like they belong in a teen movie or television show like Riverdale. Newcomer Sarah Rich plays Rosie, a high school girl who’s on the soccer team and has a core group of girlfriends in Woodstock, New York. It doesn’t take too long to figure out that something (although we’re not sure exactly what) happened to her sister a year prior to the start of the film. Rosie and her mother are both going through a tough time because of these events. It seems as though her sister, Amelia, was either kidnapped or killed, but it’s not definite.
“Rosie makes a fake profile…and starts chatting with whom she believes to be the perpetrator.”
Rosie’s mom goes out of town on a business trip during the anniversary of whatever horrible event occurred, so she decides to go online and do some investigating. Her sister was big in the online video chat community, which, if you know anything about it, is full of perverts, regardless if the sites are sexual in nature or not. She’s trying to find the person who is behind what happened to her sister. She takes a folder full of evidence to the police station, where Detective Horne (Jeff Wincott) tells her that the man who did it would all but have to walk into the police station and confess before anything would happen.
Feeling angry and somewhat defeated after this encounter, she asks her friend, who she also has a crush on, Rory (Dakota Lustick) to help her track the man down online when her best friend Stacy (Jolene Marquez) tells her that he knows a lot about computers. He gives her some instructions, and afterward, Rosie makes a fake profile on one of the sites under her sister’s name and starts chatting with whom she believes to be the perpetrator. He says he likes heavy metal and uses the phrase “double dog dare you” a lot, so when Rosie encounters a man who does both of these things at the gas station, she follows him. She sees him take pictures of some young girls playing volleyball. Rosie is now determined to give this man, played by Marc Menchaca, a taste of his own medicine.
“It’s a feminist horror masterpiece, minus the blood and guts…”
At this point, the movie changes its tone to a dark, borderline sadistic revenge thriller that has more than its fair share of uncomfortable moments. The tension is through the roof, and the stakes get higher by the minute. It’s one of the more entertaining and original films in the genre I’ve seen in quite a while. Where it could have been a crime-by-numbers plot like one of the more formulaic episodes of Law and Order: SVU (which by the way I would have been totally fine with if it was since that show is one of my absolute favorite things on this Earth), it unfolds twist after very unpredictable twist.
Sarah Pirozek wrote, directed, and produced #LIKE, and as I mentioned before, she did a hell of a job. Sarah Rich (who has appeared in an episode of SVU by the way) had an impressive feature film debut, and Marc Menchaca shows even more of his range than what we have seen in Ozark, Weightless, etc. His star is on the rise, and I don’t doubt that this film will help it along. I’m very excited for everyone, not just festival audiences, to see #LIKE. It sheds light on the total shadiness of internet culture as well as the monster’s grief, can build out of us. It’s a feminist horror masterpiece, minus the blood and guts you’ll usually find within movies in the same genre. If you like twist-filled-revenge-thrillers, this should be the next movie on your watch list.
#LIKE (2019) Written and Directed by Sarah Pirozek. Starring Sarah Rich, Marc Menchaca, Jeff Wincott, Dakota Lustick, Liz Meinders, Jolene Marquez, Samantha Nicole Dunn, Marin Gazzaniga. #Like screened at the 2019 Brooklyn Film Festival.
9 out of 10 stars