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  • Rev Horror

Insane Like Me?

Dir. Chip Joslin (2024)

A combat veteran returns home and winds up in an asylum after being convicted of his girlfriend's disappearance. Nine years later, he returns home to find the truth.

There are a few horror genres that indie film does particularly well, and it's usually better the less nuanced the genre happens to be. Case in point: vampire movies. They're easy to do because there's no particularly "right" way to do it: do you go with the romantic eroticism of an Anne Rice adaptation, or do you go for Dusk Til Dawn-style vampire serial killers? Insane Like Me?, a film that starts with a man being placed into an asylum after the disappearance of his girlfriend, decides to go down that second path, and it's all the better for it. It has issues, which we'll discuss later on, but it's still a fun indie horror that has a lot to enjoy for B-movie fans.

The aforementioned man is Jake (Britt Bankhead), who has just returned from an oversees deployment to find that his girlfriend Samantha (Grace Patterson) has thrown him a surprise party. While at the party, which takes place in a purported haunted hotel, vampires attack, leaving everyone but Jake dead or missing. He's arrested by the corrupt town cop Sheriff Davis (Eric Roberts) and committed to an insane asylum, where he learns to play ball and deny that his girlfriend has been kidnapped by vampires (as one does). Of course, his absence didn't stop the vampire attacks, and he returns to town to find that his girlfriend's sister Crystal (Samantha Reddy) and her friends are about to undergo their own assaults. A man on a mission, Jake is determined to eliminate the vampire threat and find out what happened to his girlfriend.

Insane Like Me? has a great concept for a film, though it's not particularly inventive, but unfortunately it feels a good bit more like a Lifetime movie than it should. Other than a couple of F-bombs, it really should be a PG-13 film. The acting is a bit wooden, though not particularly abnormal for indie horror, and the effects are almost solely digital. That last part is a big no-no for most horror fans, and it doesn't do the film any favors even though I'm sure it saves on the overall budget. The artificial blood splatter is still fairly entertaining, and it wasn't until halfway through the film that I was sure that's what I was seeing, because the opening of the film is actually done fairly well (despite the film's lack of production values or nameable talent).

The fight scenes are decent and fairly well-choreographed, though the general lack of gore does hold it back from becoming as good as it could have been. Once the film shifts from the opening/hospital scenes to follow Crystal and her friends, it becomes noticeably better, despite never fixing the flaws from the first act. Though the teen actors are campy, that doesn't feel particularly novel within the genre and doesn't make the film worse. Bankhead actually does a pretty good job in the lead role, and he's a relatively believable action star for a film that is much more action than horror. The girls are gorgeous, and Reddy delivers a performance that is both well done a great foil to Bankhead's hero.

There's also a sort of unbelievability as it moves along: how does Jake get committed? A cop, no matter how powerful, can't just do that on his own. How does he get released? Simply saying "I don't believe in vampires anymore" doesn't seem likely to get one bounced from a mental institution, nor would it seem particularly common for someone who has just been released to find a collection of high-powered firearms with which to fight said vampires. Why does no one around seem to care that this guy who has come back to town after being released from the hospital for killing the town sweetheart has come back? Even her sister greets him with practically open arms, which seems, again, unlikely. Insane Like Me? never seeks to answer these questions, which may be for the best, as I'm not sure we'd like the answers even if we got them.

By and large, though, Insane Like Me? feels like a teen horror via LMN, a lackluster genre effort but a generally watchable film. It feels like the story at the base is actually pretty good, and it's the other parts of the film that don't really deliver on what's promised. There's a bit of a disconnect between the underlying story and what appears on-screen, as a "vampire hotel" concept had a lot of meat to it that is never explored. There's whispers of an "H. H. Holmes hotel" in some of the plot, but that's never fully fleshed out in a satisfying way. I will say, however, that the "twist" at the end is fairly interesting, and not really what I expected, though there's not a whole lot to back it up from what comes before. Nevertheless, it is a watchable film, despite its inability to cross the barrier into "good." If you're a fan of vampire movies, or indie horror in general, chances are you've seen a lot worse.

Who this movie is for: Vampire movie lovers, Indie horror stans, Mental healthcare professionals

Bottom line: Insane Like Me? is campy enough to be fun while lacking anything in the plot or delivery that makes it any more than that. The gore is minimal and digital when it exists, the acting is wooden and Lifetime level from most actors, and the film fails to explore the truly interesting parts of its lore. Leads Britt Bankhead and Samantha Reddy are good, though, and there's a fun (and over-acted) part from Eric Roberts for his fans as well. If you're into vampire flicks or indie horror, I'd definitely recommend giving it a shot, because you could certainly do a whole lot worse. Unfortunately, you could certainly do a whole lot better as well.

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