Horse Girl (2020)

horse girl poster 2020 movie
7.0 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 8/10

Interesting concept and look at mental illness

Wished it had taken a stance instead of raising ambiguity

Movie Info

Movie Name: Horse Girl

Studio: Duplass Brothers Productions

Genre(s): Drama

Release Date(s):  January 27, 2020 (Sundance)/February 7, 2020 (US)

MPAA Rating: R

horse girl alison brie molly shannon

I’m having a really bad day

Sarah (Alison Brie) leads a simple life.  She works at a craft store with her coworker Joan (Molly Shannon) and spends her evenings going to Zoomba and watching her favorite series Purgatory.  Sarah escape is spending time with her horses at a local farm, but things are beginning to change.  Sarah is having recurring dreams of a strange location that seems alien, she is losing time, and no one believes her that a conspiracy is occurring.  Sarah is caught in a loop that she doesn’t seem able to break and her chance of escape is closing.

Directed by Jeff Baena, Horse Girl is a psychological drama.  The film was produced by the Duplass Brothers (Jay Duplass appears in the film) and was written by Baena and Brie.  It premiered at Sundance where it was purchased by Netflix.

I heard about Horse Girl on an NPR interview.  It sounded interesting, and the trailer raised a bunch of questions of what is occurring in the film.  Watching Horse Girl, it gets some stuff right, but it also seems to miss a few opportunities.

horse girl alison brie costume

Aliens, take me away!!!

The movie skirts the line between reality and mental illness.  For much of the movie, you question if Brie could be experiencing something supernatural or extra-terrestrial.  Then, the character falls hard into mental illness which runs in her family.  I thought this was really interesting.  The film explores the idea of illness in a way that is both thought provoking and terrifying (you can be “normal” one day and spiral out of control).  In my opinion it chickens out and creates ambiguity at the end by really questioning if Brie’s character is actually right about the abductions and time travel.  It seems like an easy way out for a tough situation.

The cast is good.  Alison Brie continues prove that she has a lot of range.  From Mad Men to Community to GLOW, Brie has shown that she not only takes risks, but she can play wildly different characters.  I also really like Molly Shannon and love when she shows up in roles.  Jay Duplass is interesting as an actor and actually adds a real good context as a realistic psychiatrist.  Paul Reiser has a small role as Alison’s stepfather.

horse girl alien abduction

If this is in your head, it is terrifying…

The movie is kind of visually compelling.  It is largely simple but some of Brie’s delusions are interesting and the visuals tied to them are somewhat terrifying.  It does a good job with the idea of if the delusions are real, they are terrifying; if they are illusions, accepting that would mean extreme insanity for the character.

Horse Girl feels like it is almost there, but doesn’t quite reach it.  It feels like a good place for a discussion about mental illness, but then the movie backtracks and doesn’t want to leave Brie’s character insane.  Both possibilities aren’t out of the question.  The story is told from Brie’s character so in her mind she could have been proven right at the end…while in reality, she’s in a mental institution unable to escape the trap of her mind’s creation.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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