Film Review: INGRID GOES WEST (USA 2017) ***1/2

INGRID GOES WESTAn unhinged social media stalker moves to LA and insinuates herself into the life of an Instagram star.

Director: Matt Spicer
Writers: David Branson Smith, Matt Spicer
Stars: Aubrey Plaza, Elizabeth Olsen, O’Shea Jackson Jr.

Review by Gilbert Seah
Actress Aubrey Plaza has been busy in the production chair lately with her recent THE LITTLE HOURS, a naughty little comedy about misbehaving nuns and now with INGRID GOES WEST, again a naughty little comedy but with more drama about a misbehaving Ingrid. Plaza stars in both films, creating a niche for herself as in DIRTY GRANDPA always playing a misbehaving youth.

INGRID GOES WEST (great title, by the way), is a more ambitious project with a stronger narrative this making way for a better picture. INGRID GOES WEST is the most accomplished of all the Aubrey Plaza films so that fans of hers are aware. She play a psycho habitual stalker desperate to make friends at all costs, including causing grievous bodily harm to her targets and herself.

When the film begins, she has already stalked Charlotte who has got a restraining oder on her. Yet Ingrid (Plaza) shows up at Charlotte’s wedding and pepper sprays her during the wedding dance. Ingrid is then institutionalized. The sudden passing away of her mother leaving her a large sum of money, $60,000 in cash allows her to carry on her stalking comfortably till all hell breaks lose. The coming across of the money is an excuse for the story to have its character continue her exploits.

Plaza’s character reminds one immediately of Anna Faris, the lead in Gregg Araki’s SMILEY FACE, in which the f***ed up lead goes around the entire film causing drama and damage to herself and every person around her. In this story, Ingrid’s new target in Instagram celebrity Taylor (Elizabeth Olsen) and her artist husband (Wyatt Russell). Taylor and Ingrid initially hit it along, with Ingrid stalking her half the time photographing everything without her knowledge. Ingrid also has an admirer, her black landlord (O’Shea Jackson Jr.), who she eventually has a relationship with. His obsession with everything Batman proves a lot of laugh-out loud jokes. But things get tough with the appearance of Taylor’s obnoxious but good-looking buffed up drug taking drunken brother, Nicky (Billy Magnussen) who finds out the truth about Ingrid’s motives. He blackmails her and things get out of control.

The film rarely contains a dull moment. When things start to smoothen out, one can always count on Ingrid to f*** things up again.

The film also contains a soundtrack of popular 80’s and 90’s tunes that keep the spirit of the film going.

One of the rare achievements of the film, courtesy of both actress Plaza and writer/director Spicer is the creation of a character that is such an alpha female loser that the audience wishes the worst on her and that all her plots be foiled. Yet the character created is one to sympathized.

The film’s one flaw is the tacked on unhappy ending. The ending is predictable for a film with a story centring on social media. Apart from that, this is one totally entertaining f***ed up movie about a f***ed up person doing f***ed up things. The film debuted at Sundance 2017, where it won the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award for co-writers Spicer and David Branson Smith.


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