SXSW 'Basic' Review: Chelsea Devantez’s portrayal of going down the rabbit hole of Instagram envy is relatable
The short is a hilarious take on Instagram stalking and insecurity, with a twist ending that will leave you giggling
Spoilers for ‘Basic’
We have all been guilty of scrolling through someone else's Instagram and feeling insecure about ourselves in comparison. Chelsea Devantez's short film explores this but serves it up with an unexpected twist to show how far this self-defeating obsession can go.
In fact, within the short four minutes of its runtime, the film challenges viewers about its subject matter at least three times. The film's synopsis states it is about a "dumb lil' ho doing lil' ho things".
So when the movie starts with blonde "Kailynn" (Georgia Mischak) shooting selfies of herself in a sexy dress and what seems like an internal monologue, we think this short is going to be about the vast difference between what we put out there on social media and our actual reality.
The voiceover talks about how attractive selfies are all she lives for, which require constant effort and is a method to deal with her friendless existence.
Then, we hear the voice changing and the screen shifting to a woman, Gloria (Chelsea Devantez), sitting in the dark in her bed, muttering to herself looking at Kailynn's Instagram and we realize that the "internal monologue" is actually Gloria throwing shade at Kailynn. Calling her "basic", she mumbles snide remarks about her photogenic lifestyle as she scrolls through her pictures. Her envy is evident and it is not an attractive look.
But when she scrolls to pictures where Kailynn is posing with Nick (Nelson Franklin), her envy suddenly seems understandable and relatable. Which one of us hasn't, in a particularly low point of singledom, stalked the current squeeze of an ex on Instagram, trying to find flaws in their happiness as they bombard the world with pictures of their blissful couplehood?
And then, the light switches on and Gloria guiltily chucks the phone to her side, as her partner, who has woken up turns to her. And guess what? It's Nick!
Gloria is his current girlfriend, and he is exasperated that she is scrolling through his ex's Instagram "again". Turns out Kailynn was Nick's girlfriend "seven years ago" and he dated her for only "three months".
Gloria, caught in the act, tries desperately to act as if this is a perfectly normal activity to be indulging in and says, "she seems cool" and follows it up with a sarcastic, "so good for you." Nick sighs, obviously used to this routine, remarking - "there it is" about Gloria's irrational insecurity.
The film is funny precisely because you relate to Gloria right up till the end and then she seems completely bonkers. But then again an attractive ex is exactly the sort of invisible nemesis that fires up insecurity. The underlying thought being that if our boyfriend/girlfriend scored someone that hot, what are they doing with us? Chelsea Devantez's short perfectly depicts how Instagram envy can lead us down some downright embarrassing late-night explorations.
'Basic' is part of Amazon Prime Video’s SXSW 2020 Film Festival Collection which is available to be streamed from April 27–May 6.