Ingrid Goes West review – social media satire is a horribly watchable carnival of narcissism

Aubrey Plaza plays an obsessive young woman who worms her way into the life of an Instagram star in Matt Spicer’s acrid comedy

Writer-director Matt Spicer makes his feature debut with a horribly enjoyable satire, painted in hard-edged, acrid colours: the colours of an Instagram post, in fact. Seeing those filters and tints up on the movie screen is an eerie, unearthly experience, supersaturating the film with unease. The visuals reminded me of Sofia Coppola’s The Bling Ring, which created the same affectless glaze by flashing up selfies of supercool perfection – or Levan Gabriadze’s horror film Unfriended, which found something candidly scary in the alienated world of Facebook. Ingrid Goes West sees social media as a carnival of narcissism, sociopathy and that most toxic, most ubiquitous and least acknowledged of the seven deadly sins: envy.

Comedy star Aubrey Plaza hits a career best playing Ingrid, someone who is, in the Trumpian phrase, a loser. She has been put into a psychiatric facility for developing a stalker obsession via Instagram. On release, and being joyfully reunited with the smartphone she was denied during treatment, Ingrid uses an inheritance from her late mother to start a new life in Los Angeles where she can pursue her new online stalker obsession, this time with a social media star whose first name, of course, is Taylor. This super successful young woman, played by Elizabeth Olsen, flaunts her perfect life on Instagram: her hot husband, her decor, her wellness oriented meals. She is an influencer, someone paid to advertise brands.

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