From the first few seconds of the film, it was clear to me that Horse Girl was not going to be a success.
Horse Girl begins by showing Sarah (Alison Brie) living through her seemingly mundane daily life. Between working at the local craft store and her nightly binges of Purgatory—a psychological fantasy television series—Sarah does not have much time for a life.
Initially, Sarah comes off as introverted and shy, but otherwise normal. Viewers soon learn that Sarah is far from normal. When her birthday comes, Sarah is too shy to ask her Zumba instructor to go out with her, so she spends the evening watching horror movies. When her roommate Nikki (Debby Ryan) comes into their apartment with her boyfriend Brian (Jake Picking), she demands that Sarah joins them for an enjoyable evening.
The first twenty minutes of the movie contained the entirety of the “normal” parts of the film. The morning after Sarah’s birthday, Nikki discovers deep scratch marks on the wall in the same place that Brian saw Sarah sleepwalking the night before. That is the same night that Sarah starts having her confusing and lucid dreams.
By this point in the movie, I was just as confused as I was disturbed. Sarah’s dreams, and her life during these dreams, gives viewers a glimpse of her rapidly declining mental health. This look into her failing brain quickly develops a suspenseful mood and a feeling of impending doom for the viewers. We start to feel the same way that Sarah does.
Sometimes, movies that are classified as psychological thrillers can pull this off and create an intense, suspenseful, and quality movie. Horse Girl did none of that. The uneasiness I felt was not because I was attached to Sarah or anything that was going on in her life, but rather because the movie just did not make any sense and I felt just as confused as she did.
This strategy of putting viewers in the mind of Sarah, who by halfway through the movie is convinced that she is a clone of her grandmother, fails miserably on all levels. I was unable to follow the plot of the movie very well and after forty-five minutes, I had to call it quits.
I chose select scenes from the remaining hour of the movie to watch so that I could write an accurate review, but it turns out I really did not have to. All of the remaining scenes were just as confusing and uncomfortable for viewers as the opening ones.
The acting did not add anything to the movie, either. Horse Girl was cast terribly, and there was not one single actor or actress that was commendable in the film. The acting all seemed fake and forced, and there was no accuracy or relatable qualities to any of the characters.
Contrary to the title, Horse Girl was barely about horses. The only significance of horses in the plot was that Sarah frequently visited a horse stable where she used to ride, and at the end of the movie steals the horse. While the movie could have been an accurate look at the inside of someone’s brain who is struggling with mental health disorders, it was done in a distasteful and disappointing way.
Overall, the only thing that Horse Girl had going for it was the description. The three-sentence description that Netflix provided made the movie sound interesting and unique. This potentially interesting and unique movie left me with nothing but feeling confused, disturbed, and disappointed.