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  • Gareth Crook

Horse Girl (2020)

Alison Brie stars, I like Alison Brie. Small town America, always an interesting backdrop for a repressed socially awkward lead character and... horses. Well I’ll come back to that. Sarah is a little unusual, by expected norms at least. She’s getting by, enjoying arts and crafts, crap crime TV and a habit of standing staring at walls in the middle of the night... something is off. Brie seems to do lonely isolation well, an uncomfortable outsider, but to be honest she can be a bit difficult to watch, albeit in an oddly captivating way. Contradictory I know. This is largely down to knowing there’s more going on under the hood, her character is deep, possibly disturbed. An innocence hiding a dark danger. Nosebleeds, weird flashback visions, there’s clearly been some trauma and again the horse thing. She likes to hang out with Willow, a horse she shares a connection with at a nearby stable, or thinks she’s a connection with. The owners don’t seem to agree and clearly think Sarah is overstaying her welcome, providing more awkwardness. A pivotal flashback scene visiting a childhood friend sheds some light, an accident, leaving her friend injured, the horse playing a central role having thrown her off and for a second it all starts to feel a bit too neat. Slowly it does draw you back in, but the pacing is laborious. The blackouts, voices in the night, the mention of her mothers passing, a suggestion of some hereditary madness. It works hard to be creepy and unnerving as Sarah’s paranoia grows, demanding a first date take her to the cemetery to dig up her dead mother with some scissors, to get a DNA sample and prove that she’s been cloned. Tragic is not he word. What it does do well is drip feeding the big picture, the viewer initially only seeing Sarah’s point of view, but the rest of her story comes into focus through the supporting cast. It tries it’s hand at a damning commentary on the US healthcare system, but it’s not nearly sharp enough to do this any justice. It’s a shame as this could really save this. Instead it feels like a needless complication. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy the trippy psychotic episode stuff, with all its plinky plonky music and shifting realities, as it attempts Lynchian levels of surrealism and maybe that’s the idea behind the horse, although the horse never stands in the middle of a living room. Ultimately though all these little touches aren’t enough to rescue this from the mundane, disjointed nonsense.



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