Home / Technology / Rob Mockler’s surreal film Like Me explores loneliness through YouTube culture

Rob Mockler’s surreal film Like Me explores loneliness through YouTube culture

This assessment used to be in the beginning printed in March 2017, when the film opened at SXSW in Austin, Texas. It is being republished to coincide with the film’s restricted theatrical liberate on January 26th, 2018. It shall be to be had on streaming condo and VOD platforms on February 20th, 2017.

It’s simple to learn Like Me as a fatalistic remark on social media. Kiya, the film’s celebrity, is a teenage YouTuber who makes the antics of personalities like PewDiePie appear old fashioned. In the film’s first 15 mins, she holds a comfort retailer clerk at gunpoint only for the excitement of recording his meltdown and posting it on-line.

But Kiya — who turns out to have an obsession with older males, and a gloomy want for validation — is talking to an target audience. As her movies hit the web, they spawn a internet of reactions starting from disgust to thrill, and so they’d really feel proper at house on the web lately.

Kiya’s driver may also be boiled down to 1 target audience member particularly. With each and every outrageous new stunt she pulls, this sneering viewer has a slicing remark on her vulnerable “attention whore” stunts. Through on-line movies, he name callings Kiya, dictating new traces of one-upmanship, and pushing her to move them. As the film progresses, so do Kiya’s ambitions; she u.s.a.her recreation to incorporate kidnapping, attack, or even snuff movies sooner than she confronts her rival.

Rob Mockler, the film’s author, directer, and editor, describes the film’s conception as a part of a knee-jerk response to social media. “I thought it was a real absurd step for humanity, and I thought it was kind of scary in some ways,” he says. It made him search validation in one thing so simple as posting a photograph on-line — after which doubt himself if folks didn’t find it irresistible. “[Social media] changed how I feel we look at ourselves. We're now sort of crafting, we're curating memories, we're crafting our identities like never before. There's this real-time sort of authorship of who we are as people.”

Like Me pushes this concept in a fantastical, over-the-top method. The film, clocking in round 80 mins, leans closely into high-concept directing. It’s a ordinary story informed through neon colours, uncomfortable close-ups, and looped moments that Mockler says had been impressed by way of GIFs. Kiya pursues her assured self-destruction like a canine chasing a automobile, however she by no means appears like a completely learned personality. She’s a residing metaphor for loneliness and attention-seeking, however the film by no means addresses why she is this fashion. Her alternatives are erratic: she kidnaps a person, then treats him as a form of puppy, then doles out extra abuse.

Kiya can be a modern day femme fatale — seducing a person two times her age, then enacting punishment — if she weren’t so younger. There’s one thing uncomfortable about the way in which the film walks this tightrope. One scene paints Kiya as a wide-eyed wild kid quietly soliciting for tales; in every other, she wears a bobbed wig and swings from a high-mounted lodge room hammock whilst encouraging a person to strip. Her attractiveness and inherent darkness is fetishized, with one personality describing her appears to be like as “wicked.” But the film is forgiving about her habits, perhaps as a result of her look: at one level, a personality tells her she nonetheless hasn’t dedicated against the law she couldn’t escape with, as a result of she’s a gorgeous lady.

Asked what the film way, or what Kiya’s motives are, Mockler used to be cryptic in some way even he admits is cliché. After the film’s SXSW opening, I spoke to 1 viewer who mentioned it felt like a love tale; to me, it felt extra like trendy horror. When I requested the director how he felt about each interpretations, he used to be obscure, reiterating handiest that Like Me is deeply rooted in loneliness. “I think they're all trying to connect in some sort of strange way,” he mentioned of the film’s characters. “These are all the sort of flawed people who are kind of outliers, who are just trying to connect to other people.” He driven again in opposition to the concept he holds a pessimistic view of social media, pronouncing as an alternative that there’s merely a ordinary slice of it that we will have to query.

"For me, [Like Me] began as this common tale about loneliness and the way we strive to connect to folks, and the way that infrequently manifests in ordinary, frightening, and violent tactics,” he says. “It's this feeling of being lost and vulnerable and scared and feeling like you're judged, and wanting to reach out in some way to someone else to see if they feel that, too.”

Like Me’s imaginative and prescient isn’t cynical, then, however tragic. Kiya has no transparent objective. She’s determined for connection, however hasn’t needed to face penalties but for what she’s accomplished. The rush of consideration she receives for each and every new stunt ebbs and flows just like the waves of the seashore the film ends on, but it surely’s laborious to really feel pity for her. She’s nearly actually getting away with homicide, however the weight of her movements doesn’t really feel actual. Like any excellent picture or video, Like Me goals to turn handiest the juiciest bits. How the mess will get wiped clean up isn’t intended for us to look.

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