Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and the like are essentially part of our psyche in this day and age, so it’s a little surprising that nobody has made a social media stalker movie until now. But as one character states in Ingrid Goes West, a new dark comedy about the dangerous obsessions inherent in these online platforms, this is some Single White Female shit. This time, however, director Matt Spicer has put us firmly in the shoes of the titular stalker.

Ingrid Thorburn (Aubrey Plaza) is a troubled young woman, having done time in a psychiatric hospital for violently attacking an acquaintance whom she had an unhealthy obsession with on Instagram. Once released, the allure of her smartphone proves too great and she immediately hops back online, eventually stumbling across an Instagram star from Los Angeles named Taylor Sloane (Elizabeth Olsen). When Taylor innocuously replies to a comment Ingrid leaves on one of her photos, the obsessive wheels start rolling once more and Ingrid abruptly moves out to the coast to meet her new BFF, with a duffel bag full of cash inherited from her mother’s death to fund her quest.

Aubrey Plaza’s comedic style has always been dry and sarcastic so it’s fascinating to see her take this into full on sociopathic territory as Ingrid. Reminiscent of Kristen Wiig’s standout work in Welcome to Me, it’s the kind of performance that is often hilarious but isn’t afraid to go to some pretty dark places as well, refusing to shy away from the mental illness at the character’s core. And while Ingrid callously manipulates everyone around her to insinuate herself into Taylor’s life, in addition to engaging in some other pretty despicable behaviour, the film is still locked into her point of view, constantly probing what makes her tick. Even when you want to look away, you can’t take your eyes off her.

The rest of the talented cast keeps up – Olsen is perfect as a fame-obsessed L.A. scenester and O’Shea Jackson Jr. (still looking and sounding exactly like his dad, Ice Cube) plays an affable romantic interest with an intense Batman obsession of his own. Meanwhile, Billy Magnussen goes entertainingly over-the-top as Taylor’s asshole coke-fiend brother, Nicky, whose own maniacal behaviour threatens to expose Ingrid’s carefully composed new identity.

While Ingrid Goes West is largely a comedic affair, Spicer and co-writer David Branson Smith are clearly invested in the potentially damaging psychological effects of social media, making relevant points about the facades people put up online to cover and avoid who they really are – something that ends up applying equally to Taylor as it does to Ingrid. It may be a little obvious where the story is headed at times but that’s not to say it doesn’t ring true, leaving you with a final punch of an ending that is unexpectedly ambiguous and unsettling.

Is Ingrid Goes West essential viewing?

Absolutely – this is the domestic thriller for the internet age that we’ve all been waiting for (well, at least I have) and is worth seeing for Plaza’s committed performance alone, a tricky balancing act between broad comedy and troubling psychosis.

Ingrid Goes West opens Friday, August 18, 2017 at Cineplex Cinemas Yonge-Dundas. Check their website for more information.

Ingrid Goes West Trailer