It may be one of the most uncomfortable movies to witness this year, and indeed among the most chilling – and that’s pretty potent considering Ingrid Goes West is billed as a comedy. An indie one at that, but a comedy.
Satire would be more precise, but this story about a young woman following her dreams is no farce: it’s a genuine, focused story that slowly heats up water around the audiences until sooner or later you realize you’re being boiled alive.
They are dreams to Ingrid, though others would call them obsessions. Her hand glued to her phone, Ingrid (Aubrey Plaza) is wide-eyed, misguided, and lonely, following others on in the digital world and waiting for likes and approval from strangers. She fabricates relationships, has unclear life goals, and seems to be willing to do anything for attention.
So, when her mother dies and leaves her a chunk of coin – and following a stint in a rehab centre after a breakdown in the opening of the film – Ingrid heads to California because that’s where Instagram celebrity and so-called influencer Taylor Sloane (Elizabeth Olsen). And Ingrid wants to be like Taylor Sloane.
That’s among the first few of many, many actions that range from ridiculous to disturbing over the course of this film, which turns dark despite starting in relatively dimness. The laughs, of which there are lots, usually come with a fearful chuckle attached. The genuine, straightforward humour, often provided by Ingrid’s Venice Beach landlord and newfound friend (O’Shea Jackson Jr) are a welcome reprieve. Even those it seems are held by as if to force the viewer to submit.
The escalation involves Ingrid bewildering and duplicity befriending Taylor and her boyfriend – but when Taylor’s brother visit and Ingrid is no longer the center of attention, our insecure lead starts lashing out.
This millennial takedown is executed with purpose and restraint – as absurd as the film may seem, Ingrid has earned every one of her actions. We know who she is in the beginning. Perhaps what’s most jarring is that you can’t help but feel, but believe there will be those watching this film in love with Ingrid, by her side, because they see themselves in her.
The finale is chilling; and again, it seems the film dares you to watch, laying out what is going to happen but wondering if you will believe it. Unnerving to the very end, Ingrid Goes West is a modern day critique of what’s cherished and adored, all dressed up pretty, and peppered with jokes.
Ingrid Goes West is available now On Demand through all major VOD Platforms and on DVD & Blu-Ray on Tuesday November 7th through all major retailers.