First, The Social Network came for Facebook. Then, Catfish came for online dating. Now a new movie is coming for Instagram… and if the Ingrid Goes West trailer is any indication, it's going to be the most terrifying parable of social media yet. The film revolves around Ingrid, played by Parks And Recreation's Aubrey Plaza, a woman prone to obsessively following — and then stalking — people she meets on Instagram. The movie earned rave reviews when it premiered at Sundance Film Festival earlier this year, and now the rest of us finally get a glimpse at what this harrowing cautionary tale has in store for us when it opens in theaters on Aug. 4.
For those who are perhaps still most familiar with Plaza from her days as the deadpan April Ludgate on the aforementioned NBC workplace sitcom, Ingrid Goes West may be introducing them to a whole new side of the actress. But those who tuned into FX's addicted superhero series Legion earlier this year will recognize the darker side of Plaza. As Lenny, the most seductive and menacing of the Shadow King's many forms, the 32-year-old truly showed her range — and truly scared the crap out of us in the process.
Viewers will probably see echoes of Lenny in Ingrid: both characters are essentially parasites who feed off the energy of others. The Ingrid Goes West trailer begins with the title character attacking a bride she's been Instagram-stalking on her wedding day. When that obviously doesn't go as planned, Ingrid sets her sights on a new target: Taylor (Elisabeth Olsen), a high-profile social media influencer whose Instagram feed reflects a seemingly perfect life. So Ingrid travels to California to befriend Taylor in real life, changing everything about her appearance and personality to be a better match with the young woman she's obsessed over from afar.
The cast of Ingrid Goes West also includes O'Shea Jackson, Jr. (Straight Outta Compton) as Ingrid's new landlord, Billy Magnussen (Into The Woods) as Taylor's brother, and Wyatt Russell (Black Mirror) as Taylor's boyfriend. Speaking of Black Mirror, that popular British anthology series actually shares a lot in common with Ingrid Goes West: namely, their cynical critiques of social media and the havoc it's wreaking on our culture and on our psyches.
Ingrid Goes West is the feature filmmaking debut of director Matt Spicer; the film was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance and also won the festival's Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award for Spicer and his co-writer, David Branson Smith (of HBO's Enlightened). If the trailer is any indication, the award-winning script by Spicer and Smith is full of scathing commentary, profane hilarity, increasingly malicious hijinks, and even murder. I, for one, can't wait.
Hopefully Taylor is capable of shaking off Ingrid's soul-sucking influence as effectively as David Haller was able to rid himself of the Shadow King. However, if the film ends like Legion did, then Ingrid will simply live on another day to haunt another innocent Instragrammer. We'll find out when Ingrid Goes West opens everywhere on Aug. 4.