Tag Archives: Marc Menchaca



by Brandon Thomas

One only needs a fleeting familiarity with social media, message boards and comment sections to know that the internet is a breeding ground for toxicity and abuse. Everyone becomes a target at one point or another. Young women, especially, can become the focal points for violent, disturbed predators who want only one thing: satisfaction through cruelty. 

Rosie (Sarah Rich) and her mother aren’t doing so well. It’s been one year since Rosie’s younger sister, Amelia (Samantha Nicole Dunn), died by suicide. The pain of the loss is made worse as Amelia was goaded into taking her own life by an online abuser. This abuser used his perverse coercion to worm its way into Amelia’s day-to-day life. Rosie’s depression and guilt morph into rage as she believes she’s uncovered the identity of the man responsible for Amelia’s death.

Like many of cinema’s greatest thrillers, #Like leans hard into discomfort. Director Sarah Pirozek pulls no punches when examining how young women are treated not only online, but in their every waking moment. The sexual adoration that men – young and old – direct toward women such as Rosie is shown for what it truly is – villainous and scary. Outside of being a damning portrait of male behavior, this also complicates Rosie’s search for the truth behind her sister’s death. How can she find the man responsible when so many are capable of this reprehensible behavior?

#Like isn’t all hard truths. There’s a throughline of ambiguity in the film that creates an ever-present sense of unease. The audience is sure Rosie has her man…until she doesn’t. Like the aforementioned online cruelty, Pirozek doesn’t shy away from the ugly side of Rosie’s anger. All good revenge movies grapple with the cost of vengeance, and this one is no exception.

Rosie is a great showcase for Sarah Rich. This is a character who is a ball of guilt, depression, rage and sadness – sometimes all within the same scene. Rosie should be your typical teenager, but the grief boiling inside of her won’t allow that. Rich plays Rosie’s loss of innocence as the film’s ultimate tragedy. 

On the other side, Marc Menchaca (Ozark, Alone) impresses as The Man (the only title given to this character), the focus of Rosie’s ire. Menchaca has the hardest role in that he can’t simply play The Man as a mustache-twirling villain without steamrolling the movie’s overall theme. Menchaca’s portrayal of The Man runs the gamut from suspicious to sympathetic. 

#Like could’ve easily gone for pure pulp and still have been a successful film. But by investing in theme, both storywise and through character beats, #Like manages to stand out by challenging the audience.

On the Road Again


by Hope Madden

“Do you think you’re the first one to say that?”

That is a good, sinister question when posed by the mustachioed traveler responding to his captive’s promise to remain silent if he lets her go. It’s good because it clarifies to her and us that this is not his first prisoner rodeo, an unsettling fact that increases tensions and moves the story forward.

It’s also a good question to ask director John Hyams as his road trip horror Alone serves up a very familiar premise.

Jessica (Jules Wilcox), her beat Volvo station wagon and hitched U-Haul trailer are making a cross-country trip. Nobody else, just them. Sure, Mom keeps calling, but Jessica just can’t right now.

It’s beautiful, wooded country, but a little treacherous—more so once that black SUV starts following her around.

You know where this is going from the opening scene, so the only hope is that the execution delivers some thrills. Drone shots of trees may be a little tired by this time, but they are pretty and they give the sense of isolation. Screenwriter Mattias Olsson makes subtle changes to the predictable story, giving each character an unexpected layer or two to keep you guessing.

Wilcox’s no-thrills performance suits the project beautifully. Though frustrating in the early going (don’t pretend you wouldn’t do some stupid things in that situation, too), Jessica’s resolve and tenacity are proven with a focused, physical performance.

Marc Menchaca, known only as Man, is a delight in the role of the villain. That ‘stache! Nary a false note creeps into his menacing demeanor. His is the saucier of the two characters and the hateful chemistry between the actors drives the thrills and commands attention.

Anthony Heald also makes a welcome appearance at about the halfway point, and the action takes an effective turn with him. But mainly, Alone benefits from two truly savvy performances. It just doesn’t have much to say that we haven’t already heard.