Insane Like Me? Harbors a Nine-Year Vampire Vendetta

Photo courtesy of DeskPop Entertainment

I’ll watch just about anything with vampires. Whether it’s big theatrical releases like Abigail, international films like Let the Right One In, or indie gems like A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, if a movie features an undead bloodsucker, I’m usually willing to give it a shot. I just can’t get enough of vampires. When I first heard about Insane Like Me?, I knew I had to check this film out. It promised to put an interesting spin on the typical vampire template, and I was really curious to see how it would play out.

Insane Like Me? was directed by Chip Joslin, and it stars Britt Bankhead, Grace Patterson, Eric Roberts, Samantha Reddy, Jack Maxwell, Paul Kolker, and Meg Hobgood. The film centers around Jake, a combat veteran who’s just returned home after a tour overseas. His friends are throwing him a welcome back party, and at first, everybody seems to be having fun.

However, soon enough, the partiers find themselves under attack by a group of vampires, and while Jake manages to survive, his girlfriend, Samantha, goes missing. Unsurprisingly, nobody believes his story, so he’s committed to a mental institution for nine years. When he’s finally released, he returns to the scene of the party to look for Samantha and get revenge on the bloodsucking coven that ruined his life, but as you can probably guess, not everybody he encounters along the way is convinced that these monsters really do exist.

I don’t know about you, but I think that’s a great premise for a vampire movie. It reminds me a bit of Let’s Scare Jessica to Death, and much like that classic film, Insane Like Me? could’ve leaned into its story’s ambiguity and skirted the line between the psychological and the supernatural.

Vampires baring their fangs
Photo courtesy of DeskPop Entertainment

But unfortunately, it doesn’t. There’s no doubt that Jake and his friends really were attacked by vampires, so even though the people around him have plenty of reason to question his mental stability, we don’t share their doubts. We know exactly what happened, so Insane Like Me? is about as straightforward as you can get.

That being said, there is one scene in the third act that tries to play on the questions surrounding Jake’s reliability. It involves a young woman who the vampires capture, and soon after Jake and his crew find her, Jake starts to believe she’s a bloodsucker herself. He kills her right away, but nobody else is around when he does it, so his companions begin to think he just murdered her.

In theory, that’s an excellent scene. Like Jake, we too have reason to believe this woman is a vampire, but the case isn’t 100% rock solid. He could’ve gotten it wrong, and I really wish Insane Like Me? had played more mind games like that. But unfortunately, as I said, it’s crystal clear that there really are vampires here, and even in this scene, the uncertainty gives way almost immediately. Another bloodsucker enters the fray right away, so you barely even have time to question whether Jake should’ve killed that woman.

To be fair, none of this means the film is automatically bad. Even though a more psychological approach would’ve been great, a straight up monster movie can totally work too. It’s just a matter of execution, and unfortunately, Insane Like Me? fails on that front as well.

For starters, the characters in this film aren’t terribly likable. Aside from Jake himself, the major players here are Samantha’s younger sister and her college friends, and they’re little more than generic horror fodder. There’s nothing terribly charming or interesting about any of them, so with the possible exception of Samantha’s sister, you can just feel that they’re all destined to be sucked dry by the undead villains.

People at a party
Photo courtesy of DeskPop Entertainment

On top of those weak characters, Insane Like Me? also features a lot of mediocre action. To be frank, almost every time these vampires go on the attack, you can tell they’re simply acting out choreographed movements and trying not to hurt each other. Aside from a few isolated moments here and there, I never truly believed that these were monsters going for blood, so I was never able to suspend my disbelief enough to get into the story.

That combination of poor characters and lackluster horror makes for a pretty rough viewing experience, but I can’t say that Insane Like Me? is all bad. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Britt Bankhead’s fine performance as Jake. He’s always believable in the role, and there’s one scene where he’s genuinely excellent. It comes around the halfway point, and without giving anything away, it involves Jake being a totally badass vampire killer.

Seriously, it almost feels like you’re watching a Blade movie. This guy cuts through his undead opponents like it’s his job, and Britt Bankhead makes you believe that his character really is that formidable. Everything from the guy’s facial expressions to his movements to the way he talks just exudes that vibe, so for a few minutes, I even thought the film was turning a corner.

But unfortunately, once that scene is over, Insane Like Me? returns to its mediocre ways, so I’m sad to report that I wouldn’t recommend this movie. It’s a dry, uninspired vampire flick that fails to take advantage of its intriguing premise, so unless you’re such a huge vampire fanatic that you just need to see every undead adventure that comes out, you’re better off giving this one a pass.

Insane Like Me? is set to hit VOD on June 4.

Written by JP Nunez

JP Nunez is a lifelong movie fan, and his favorite genres are horror, superheroes, and giant monsters.

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