Ingrid Goes West
Genre: Dark Comedy
Directed by: Matt Spicer
Run time: 97 minutes
The Lowdown: Ingrid Goes West is the kind of movie that makes you uneasy.
The film, which deals with the dark side of social media, is thought-provoking and scary in equal measure, but it also eventually turns its broad spotlight on its audience, forcing viewers to consider some uncomfortable questions about their own online habits.
Maybe it’s because we all either know our own Ingrid Thorburn (the transcendent Aubrey Plaza, who is having a stellar year), or we secretly want our own Ingrid Thorburn -- someone to quietly follow our daily posts, likes and favorite places, providing instantaneous affirmation of just how cool we hope we truly are.
But Ingrid has some serious mental issues. She’s an awkward introvert who spends her days and nights following and liking every Facebook post, Instagram upload and Twitter tweet of certain people that she identifies with, even if she barely knows them offline. But when her current social media crush throws a lavish wedding reception, and doesn’t invite Ingrid, Ingrid is moved to crash the party and pepper spray the bride in the face.
After a brief stint in a facility where she’s heavily medicated and counseled, Ingrid is released back into the world, and promptly falls right back into her old cycle. When her mother dies and Ingrid inherits a comfortable sum of cash, she discovers a young, blonde, free spirit in California named Taylor, who has cultivated her own mini-army of social media followers, and has achieved the kind of Internet fame that Ingrid covets. Naturally, Ingrid decides to move to California, essentially, to stalk Taylor until the two women become BFF’s.
As written and directed by Matt Spicer, Ingrid Goes West is painful at times to watch, but also painfully funny - as in, you will laugh until it hurts. It’s also thoroughly in the now as far as how our society has changed in recent years.
And maybe that’s why this kind of movie makes me so uncomfortable – because of how easy it is today to do something similar to what Ingrid executes with laser-sharp precision.
Is it because secretly I want to be like Ingrid?
No. I'm already a PI, and a big part of my job involves backgrounding and following people, and honestly, I'm both good and terrible at it. I get physically queasy following someone, like I'm the one about to get caught, but I can spend hours online ferreting out the most intimate details of a person's life just by actually reading and analyzing the trove of information they upload on social media for public approval.
Or is it because it feels like we all secretly want this kind of attention?
Who here hasn’t posted something so innocuous and simple – Look at the burrito I just ordered! How effing cool is it that I'm drinking THIS beer?!? – and then waited to see how many ‘friends’ like the statement and the accompanying photo and, hopefully, fingers crossed, add their own comment to fuel the discussion further.
And who here hasn’t felt the pang of rejection when someone we look up to replies back to another ‘friend’ online, but seems to ignore our comment, which was just as relevant AND way funnier?
Spicer’s film perfectly exposes that emotional Achille’s heel we all carry. Then he exploits it. And then he drives it down some seriously dark streets in the middle of the night until the ride is both harrowing and exhilarating.
I think it’s true that deep down, we all want our own Ingrid.
I also, equally think we’re not really ready to discuss whether that innate human desire means that ultimately, we deserve what we get in return.
The Stuff You Care About:
Hot chicks – Aubrey Plaza is just stupid, crazy hot.
Nudity – No.
Gore – No.
Drug use – Yes.
Bad Guys/Killers – Social media.
Buy/Rent – Buy it.
Into the Night: Collector’s Edition (Shout! Factory, 115 minutes, R, Blu-Ray): Sometimes it’s easy to forget just how good a director is until you revisit a lesser-known he or she made, and then it all comes rushing back.
Take John Landis – few working directors today, or ever, for that matter, have enjoyed the kind of decade that Landis experienced from 1978 to 1988 when he directed Animal House, The Blues Brothers, An American Werewolf in London, Trading Places, Michael Jackson: Thriller, Three Amigos and Coming to America.
Included in that ridiculously golden spate of box office successes and cult classics is 1985’s Into the Night, Landis’ surreal, subversive exploration of Los Angeles’ nightlife and lowlife. The film, fueled by a great leading performance from Jeff Goldblum, also starred Michelle Pfeiffer, Dan Aykroyd and David Cronenberg.
I think Into the Night often gets overlooked because it was released months before After Hours, a very similar film by Martin Scorsese, only set in New York City and headlined by Griffin Dunne and Rosanna Arquette.
Into the Night is sly, thought-provoking and seriously funny. It’s not the best film Landis ever made, but it deserves this high-definition collector’s release to remind fans how good Landis was at the peak of his career.
Darkness Rising (Shout! Factory, 81 minutes, Unrated, Blu-Ray): Sometimes, it pays to revisit a movie that you couldn’t finish the first time you tried to watch it.
Case in point: Darkness Rising, a paranormal/supernatural high-dive into the crazy pool that gets a lot better the further along you make it in the film.
The basic premise is this: Madison (Tara Holt) convinces her best friend Izzy (Katrina Law, so good on Arrow as Nyssa al Ghul) and boyfriend Jake (Bryce Johnson) to help her break into her childhood home.
Apparently, Madison’s mother went bat-guano crazy back in the day and nearly killed her as a result. But, wait, there’s more: Madison also remembers being tormented by a presence in the home, one that had this creepy habit of leaving a symbol – four lines with a fifth slashed across – throughout the residence.
For the first half-hour to 40 minutes, Darkness Rising is serviceable. It’s a watchable low-budget horror flick.
But about the time Izzy gets possessed, and Madison and Jake figure out they are trapped inside the house, it’s like director Austin Reading and writer Vikram Weet suddenly figured out they didn’t have to play by any established rules.
Both the direction, and particularly the writing, step up several notches and deliver some wholly unexpected gems.
After Jake has contained Izzy and tied her to a chair, complete with a noose that will tighten around her throat if she tries to move at all, he looks up at Madison, clearly impressed with himself.
“What are you doing?” Madison asks.
“Trust me,” Jake says, “if she struggles, if she moves, it will tighten and kill her.”
Madison looks shocked. “Where did you learn to do that?”
“TV,” Jake replies, smiling.
Madison's jaw drops open. “What have you been watching?!” she exclaims, dumbfounded.
My main criticism with Darkness Rising is that it sadly fumbles what could have been a nice bookend segment that also would have helped explain better the goings-on in Madison’s childhood home. That the opening and closing scenes both feature iconic genre legend Ted Raimi also is a letdown because usually Raimi can spin gold from the unlikeliest of situations.
But, still, this is a decent watch with a seriously solid second act that utilizes good practical and CGI effects to deliver some taunt moments.
Killing Ground (Shout! Factory, 88 minutes, R, Blu-Ray): A new Ozploitation gem, Killing Ground delivers high tension and, even better, a fascinating character study in how ordinary humans react to a life or death situation. Check out BVB’s full review from July 18, 2017.
The Show (Lionsgate, 104 minutes, R, Blu-Ray): The Show – a new thriller that examines the evolution of reality television, and what dark viewing fantasies it might eventually encompass – is notable because it’s just the second film to be directed by accomplished actor Giancarlo Esposito.
But The Show also is notable for the fact that it ultimately fails its promising premise by delivering a glossy slice of artificial entertainment that refuses to dig deeper until it hits buried bone.
At the center of it all is Josh Duhamel’s handsome reality gameshow host Adam Rogers who steps into the national conversation when a female contestant on a Bachelor-style TV production pulls out a gun after being dismissed in favor of a prettier competitor, kills the groom-to-be and then shoots herself.
Rogers blinks through the blood that splash-stains his face and finds his own inner-Howard Beale, becoming so infuriated and obsessed with putting the “reality” back in reality TV that he pitches a new weekly contest whereby contestants commit suicide on live broadcast in front of a studio audience so their loved ones can be financially compensated.
Trust me, I honestly think we’re just a few years shy of seeing something eerily similar, so I’m all-in for a movie that offers a thoughtful and thought-provoking rumination on this topic.
The Show, however, isn’t that vehicle. It’s content to raise the questions, but not confident enough to deal with the answers that such an idea delivers.
Not to be Overlooked:
Talon Falls (MVD Entertainment Group, 75 minutes, Unrated, DVD): Talon Falls, a new slasher/torture gore-fest, is sure to delight fans who like their horror brutal and their endings bleak.
Count me in.
The second feature from writer-director Joshua Shreve is exactly what The Houses that October Built should have been – a white-knuckle, blood-soaked descent into Halloween hell courtesy of an organized band of backwoods Kentucky hillbillies who just so happen to operate a wildly popular, local scare attraction.
Shreve doesn’t hold back in unleashing some serious carnage on the unfortunate group of friends who get lured to the park.
But his master stroke is using the haunted attraction as a façade for a grisly cache of real-life murders, disembowelments, electrocutions and more. The operators of the park have surveillance cameras everywhere. They keep a watchful eye on everyone who enters each of the various themed haunts – a prison, a hospital, an industrial warehouse – and every now and then snatch up a few unlucky patrons, who are then drugged and dragged to a holding pen comprised of chain-link cages.
Whenever a scare scene needs a new victim, a masked behemoth storms down to the holding area to grab one of the prisoners.
Talon Falls does an amazing job looking much more expensive than I suspect its budget actually was. The haunted houses are immersive and impressive. The practical effects are outstanding. The acting is better than you would expect. And none of the characters really do anything too terribly dumb. They’re just up against a much better, and deadlier, organized threat.
This is one flick that needs to be on your radar immediately.
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