“The story of a girl who writes her own ending” is a rare occurrence in the history of film, but writer and director, Sarah Pirozek illustrates the extreme tragedy of one who does.
#Like follows the spiralling vengeance of Rosie (Sarah Rich), a teenager from Woodstock, whose younger sister was sexploited online by a cyberbully. On the anniversary of her sister’s suicide, Rosie finds ‘The Man’ (Marc Menchaca), who she believes is to blame for her sister’s tragedy and attempts to regain justice.
The film is a trio blend of Hard Candy (2005), Cyberbully (2011), and the more recent Promising Young Woman (2020) in its premise. Embracing more of the thriller genre than horror, #Like is a portrait of repressed female rage that is grounded in the sinister reality of online grooming and sexploitation.
Pirozek successfully subverts the usual tropes that we are so commonly overwhelmed with in revenge thrillers. Without the cheap plot device of graphic scenes depicting unnecessary violence against female characters as a set-up for a cathartic resolution, #Like builds an intense and unnerving amount of suspense through the character study of Rosie. The psychological torment that the protagonist endures is poignant enough for the audience to empathise with her draconian tactics against The Man.
The film opens in the small town of Woodstock, where Rosie and her mother live. It’s a typical thriller set-up, surrounded by woodland and distanced houses. Director of Photography, Brian Jackson uses a bleak, negative colour palette to create an isolated, eerie feeling that lingers during the whole 90 minutes.
An immense credit of the film’s strength is attributed to Sarah Rich and Marc Menchaca for their auspicious performances. Their chilling on-screen relationship, which develops in Rosie’s basement, the underbelly of her traumatised mind, requite the descend of the plot in the second half of the film. Pirozek’s attempt to subvert gender roles and dissect the complexities of grief in the digital age and an outdated and inadequate justice system is set up with empowering potential but unfortunately plummets into a resolution that lacks logic and a clear message beyond surface-level morals.
Nevertheless, for a debut film, Pirozek’s #Like is both an entertaining and anxiety-inducing viewing experience that speaks to a younger generation entrapped in an online meta world. Whilst significant filmmaking elements such as its writing and plot feel weak in the final act. Holding a mirror up to the dangers of the digital age is vital, and Pirozek, regardless of critical success, achieves this without fantasising in torture porn and cheap thrills, making #Like a valuable film for a young audience in a sordid society.
#Like will be available on Digital Download from 1st November