By Ryan Keating-Lambert
Horse Girl is a lively exploration of one girl’s madness and frustration. What starts off as a quirky indie comedy that we’ve seen a hundred times before soon turns into a wonderfully unique representation of mental health that’s both heartfelt and hypnotic. And Brie is fantastic.
Horse Girl centres around Sarah (Alison Brie) who lives a simple life, training horses and working in a crafts store. But when she starts to experience bizarre episodes of sleepwalking and other disturbing behaviour, she worries that she may succumb to the same future as her late grandmother.
Directed by Jeff Baena, who also brought us Life After Beth, The Little Hours and the wonderfully weird I Heart Huckabees, this film gives the impression that it’s a hipster romance – imagine Garden State or similar, but trippy dreams to a big white room, along with a DNA testing kit, for which the results mysteriously never arrive for, eventually lead Sarah to believe that she’s been abducted by aliens – wait, what? And that’s the part when most of you will check out, but for those willing to stay, you won’t be disappointed.
There are some notable faces along the way, including Molly Shannon who stars as bubbly co-worker Joan and attempts to support Sarah through multiple episodes. And Paul Reiser also has a brief appearance as her step-dad.
Despite things getting spiralling out of control rather quickly (maybe too quickly at times?), Brie manages to keep the character of Sarah interesting without ever straying into comedy territory. Don’t get me wrong, there are some amusing moments, but overall, Horse Girl is more of a melancholic trip into the mind. Specifically, a look at the inner demons that we inherit from our family. You genuinely feel for her.
Brie also co-wrote the film with director Baena and even if the screenplay feels a little rushed at times, the 90-minute runtime feels just right. Any more and the film would risk going into contrived laughs, and it’s the balance that makes this such an inspiring watch, not to mention the playful score by Josiah Steinbrick and Jeremy Zuckerman.
By far the best thing about this film though is that we stay with Sarah the whole way through her journey. ‘But, it’s real to me…’ she says. It’s a subjective trip into her mind and her mind alone – the film never ridicules her. We see what she sees and we feel what she feels. I like that.
Horse Girl is now available to stream on Netflix CZ