Gremlin Watches: Horse Girl

Alison Brie in Horse Girl

What happens when a chemical imbalance affects an average girl?

Horse Girl is a journey into the world of psychotic depression from a relatable standpoint. Alison Brie’s detached character Sarah is pretty freaking normal; then something not so normal happens to her.

After experiencing nightmares that make her believe she is the victim of alien abduction and a clone of her grandmother, Brie walks through an indie film world waiting for a romantic subplot and instead finds fear and time-loss and the sad reality of many people with mental illness.

Overall, yeah, this was an interesting movie; it truly did not go in a direction you’d expect. It really does start off feeling like it’s going to be a rom-com indie nightmare when Sarah meets an awkward guy and they seem to hit it off. But that’s not what’s in the cards; in fact the way the world shifts dramatically really does mirror the way that mental illness can catch the average person off guard. We’re in the journey together; has she really been abducted or is something else going on? Is she unhinged, or is she right?

Alison Brie delivers an excellent, nuanced, understated performance; aided by her understanding of the character from her hand in the screenplay, no doubt. The psychotic break happens slowly; there is never a moment when you think Brie is overacting or pushing things too far. She’s just a young girl going through something terrible.

Honestly though, after she is committed and experiences… something, the movie lost its power for me. Again, it really does reflect the reality of mental illness, but I truly hated the ambiguity of it all. She lost three days? Did she even leave the psych ward? Furthermore, the movie ends before we even get a chance to see if Sarah gets the help she obviously so desperately needs. It’s an enigmatic metaphor of losing ones-self, sure, but damn if I didn’t want to see a little bit of hope instead.

I was less intrigued by the supporting characters; the roommate is mean, her boyfriend is bad at rapping? It was just odd. The love-interest was believable but bland. Molly Shannon’s craft-store coworker character had some of the best interactions with Brie, and I felt myself wishing there was more of that than anything else.

It’s okay. It’s fine. I liked it, but didn’t love it. The tone is phenomenal, walking the fine line between quirky indie and psychological thriller in a way I have never seen before, but it’s missing something. Fun to watch until you imagine it’s you in Brie’s shoes.

And I hate to say it; for a movie called Horse Girl, I wanted like 70% more horse.

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