Ingrid Goes West

One of the great things about the Alamo Drafthouse is that they don’t show the kinds of ads and other mindless drivel that you see at regular theaters before the movie starts. Instead, they typically have a pre-show with various clips that pertain to the movie in some way. Unfortunately, the pre-show for Ingrid Goes West doesn’t do the film any favors because it’s full of less-than-great clips that are a little too spot-on with what’s in the movie, and scenes from other stalkery-themed movies that are much better than the one I was about to see.

Ingrid (Aubrey Plaza) is a little distraught after the death of her mother. She doesn’t have a lot of friends, so she latched onto a random stranger who happened to like something on her Instagram account. This ends poorly, with Ingrid getting a restraining order and a stint in an asylum, but she’s feeling much better now. Or at least that was supposed to be the case. But when she gets home, she very quickly comes across the account of Taylor (Elizabeth Olsen), a minor Instagram celebrity. Ingrid starts liking all of her stuff, and she leaves a comment. Taylor makes the mistake of replying, and it starts all over again. Ingrid takes the inheritance she got from her mother, moves across the country, and stages a chance encounter. This works after a few attempts, and now Ingrid and Taylor are best friends, at least as far as Ingrid is concerned.

Ingrid Goes West has a decent idea: a modern take on the stalker genre that relies heavily on social media. Of course, it’s not the first film to do that, and it’s far from the best, and far from the worst. It’s funny at times, but it’s mostly just lame. It wants us to take its stance on Internet celebrity seriously and connect with the characters, but too often it feels like it’s parodying those kinds of people. On top of that, it doesn’t pay off its stalker premise with the kind of tense, exciting ending that I’d hoped for (and that most of the stalker movies featured in the pre-show do have).

The best parts of the movie are probably the supporting characters. O’Shea Jackson, Jr. (Ice Cube’s son) plays Ingrid’s landlord/neighbor, and his character is the most fun and genuine in the film. And Wyatt Russell (son of Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn) does a good job as Elizabeth Olsen’s husband who tries to be supportive but is getting pretty tired of all her crap. And even though his character is pretty annoying, Billy Magnussen as Elizabeth Olsen’s brother does give us the only real source of tension in the movie. But the movie spends way too much time with its bland main characters, and as such feels pretty lackluster.