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Movie Review: "Horse Girl"

There are many movies that are worth seeing, but there are a lot of stinkers as well. My goal here is to weed out the good from the bad.

Horse Girl

Netflix Release: 2/7/2020

Netflix Release: 2/7/2020

Synopsis

Sarah (Alison Brie) is a bit of a loner. Her days consist of working at a fabric and crafts store, and her nights consist of watching her favorite television show alone. Meanwhile, her roommate, Nikki (Debby Ryan), has been trying to get her to have more of a life by setting her up with a friend of her boyfriend. Sarah is a peculiar woman, but her whole world is about to get a lot stranger.

Her grandmother was once labeled insane, as she claimed she was from the future and ended up being put in a mental institution. Her mother suffered from depression, which ultimately took her life. Now Sarah is beginning to experience things that she cannot explain. She has been sleepwalking, and she has been having strange experiences with time (somehow sleepwalking great distances in an impossibly short amount of time). She begins to theorize what could be causing these experiences, but her theories may result in her suffering the same fate as her grandmother.

Official Trailer

The Pros & Cons

The ProsThe Cons

Alison Brie (+8pts)

Weird (-10pts)

The Mystery (+4pts)

The Plot (-8pts)

Darren (+2pts)

The Ending (-3pts)

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Pro: Alison Brie (+8pts)

Alison Brie carried this movie. I had some pretty major issues with this movie as a whole, but Alison Brie's performance in it was very strong. Was it enough to make up for this movie's issues? Absolutely not, but she was enough for me to continue watching. Due to her performance, I was invested in seeing how her character's story would end, despite how weird that ending may have been. This movie was weird, and I will get into that next, but Alison Brie made me connect with her character anyway.

Her character was scared, she was as confused by what was going on as I was, and although she was a bit odd, Alison Brie still made me care about her fate. The character was going through a lot, both emotionally and mentally, and Alison Brie did a really great job with all of it. Her character, on paper, was not relatable, but Alison Brie brought her emotional pain to the screen in a way that made me relate to the character. She also performed really well in the more dramatic scenes, where the character's mental trauma boiled to the surface, as she played these scenes in an impressively captivating way. This was an odd, but very complex character, and Alison Brie did a really great job with it. I just wish there was a better written movie to support her.

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Con: Weird (-10pts)

Okay, I am all for movies being a little weird. It can make mysteries such as this one even more mysterious. However, if the filmmakers go too weird, the movie just feels too abstract and confusing, and ends up not making any sense. That was what the filmmakers of this movie ended up doing. There were weird dream sequences, crazy theories, and there was a lack of any real plot to connect the weird stuff in a way that felt coherent.

I will get into my issues with this movie's plot later, but it was relevant to this issue, as the lack of plot (in addition to the incredibly abstract and bizarre imagery) made this movie feel wildly incoherent. If you read the synopsis that I wrote for this movie, then it may sound interesting. However, please be very aware that the filmmakers got really weird with this movie, and it was honestly so weird that it was actually frustrating. Again, being somewhat weird can be a good thing, but the filmmakers went too far with it in this movie, and it made this movie hard to get through.

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Pro: The Mystery (+4pts)

Was Sarah crazy like her grandmother, or was she really experiencing what she thought she was experiencing? This was really the question that hung over the entirety of this movie like an umbrella, and her experiences made it a question that I was at least mildly interested in seeing get answered. Sarah experienced some truly weird things. If she was not crazy, then her story is a tragic one, as it would mean that she was a completely sane person whose life could have been destroyed by things that were entirely out of her control. If she was crazy, then her story is also a tragic one, as the character truly believed everything she was experiencing and was terrified as a result of that.

Either way, Sarah's story was a tragic one. Both scenarios were ones that will make you sympathize with the character, and the question that this movie will make you ask yourself is one that will make you curious to see how her story would turn out. The filmmakers also did a great job of planting seemingly countless seeds that could have supported either scenario. Unfortunately, the movie's issues seemed to smother my enjoyment of the mystery, but the mystery element was still there, and I thought the filmmakers did a pretty decent job with it. There were clues everywhere, but the filmmakers cleverly made the clues such that they could have supported either side. I just wish the filmmakers focused more on the mystery than they did on the weird and confusing imagery.

movie-review-horse-girl

Con: The Plot (-8pts)

My problem with the plot of this movie was that it felt like there was no plot at all. The total runtime of the movie was about an hour and forty minutes. The first thirty minutes were spent following Sarah doing various mundane things. These things included: working at the crafts store, sitting at home watching her favorite show, making lanyards, creeping on a random girl who now rides her old horse, and just doing various mundane things—you get the point.

The first chunk of the movie had no plot and was just spent following Sarah around. The "plot" of the rest of the movie was really just exposing us to the crazy things that she was experiencing, then following her as she tried to hopefully prove to herself that she was not crazy. Unfortunately, there was no cohesive plot to follow. The question of her sanity was raised, then the rest of the movie was spent still following her doing random things, but now there were weird things mixed in with the random things. The plot of this movie was either nonsensical, or absent all together. Either way, it showed that the filmmakers had no idea what they were doing with this story.

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Pro: Darren (+2pts)

This character was not in the movie much, and he did not have that much of an impact on the story. Nonetheless, this character was the third best thing about this movie that I could think of—after much consideration. In a story full of characters who seemed to pity Sarah, Darren was one of the few who saw something in her. That is all I can say about this character without spoiling one of the movie's dramatic moments, but I liked where the filmmakers took the character. His relationship with Sarah was an interesting one—at least when compared to the rest of this movie—and the dramatic conclusion to their story was easily one of the more exciting and engaging moments in the movie.

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Con: The Ending (-3pts)

The ending of this movie was as weird as the rest of it, but that was not my issue with it. My issue with the ending was that Sarah seemed to be very confident about the outcome of what she was doing, but there was no reason for her to be that way. Through the entire movie, Sarah had either been crazy, or one of her crazy theories of being targeted by something were true. If she was not crazy in the beginning, her experiences certainly drove her there, but by the end of the movie she just sort of randomly got clarity. She learned something that was definitely a clue, but was not enough for her to be as confident as she was—I am not going to say whether she was confident that she was insane, or confident that she was not, but she was unjustifiably confident—which made the ending make little sense.

Grading Scale

GradeCategoryPoints

A+

Amazing

95-100

A-

Great

90-94

B+

Good

85-89

B-

Decent

80-84

C+

Average

75-79

C-

Watchable

70-74

D+

Bad

65-69

D-

Terrible

60-64

F

Garbage

45-59

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Grade: D+ (68pts)

I saw the trailer for this movie on Netflix, and it made little sense to me. That being said, I saw Alison Brie was in it, and I know that she can handle both drama and comedy effectively, so I was willing to give it a shot. She was great in it, and saying that her character went through a lot throughout the course of this movie would be an understatement. Sarah endured a ton of emotional and mental trauma, and Alison Brie did a great job with all of it.

Unfortunately, beyond Alison Brie, there was not much going for this movie. It was so weird that it was frustratingly nonsensical and incoherent. It also seemed to be missing any sort of plot, which made for a boring start, and it made the rest of the movie feel random and pointless. This all then led to an ending that did not make much sense (from the perspective of how the main character knew how things would go). The mystery aspect could have worked, and there were some moments when it did, but the mystery felt a flickering candle that was being snuffed out by the overall weirdness and absent plot of this movie. If you watch this movie (or have watched it), maybe you will have a very different experience than I did. However, if you watch it and do not like it at all, do not say that I did not warn you.