By Seth Lukas Hynes
Starring Alison Brie, Debbie Ryan and John Reynolds
Horse Girl is a well-paced, confronting psychological drama co-written by and starring Alison Brie.
Sarah (Brie), an introverted young woman, begins to suspect she’s a clone or an alien abductee after a series of strange occurrences.
The film’s first act subtly plays with tone, delivering deadpan humour and slightly stylised characters. This mildly Lynchian sense of unreality makes Sarah’s theories about cloning and aliens feel more plausible.
The narrative steadily develops Sarah’s suspicions through eerie clues, such as sleepwalking, lost time and bizarre dreams. Sarah’s mental state deteriorates as her obsession deepens, and her family history of mental illness both amplifies our sympathy toward her and challenges our belief in her story.
Horse Girl is a harrowing depiction of mental illness, driven by a staggering performance from Brie, but the ending is strikingly optimistic.
Not only is the ending an elegant, surreal collage of the film’s narrative and visual elements, but it carries a powerful note of ambiguity: either Sarah’s beliefs are vindicated, or she withdraws into a comforting delusion.
Charming and disquieting, Horse Girl is an enthralling character drama, and is available for streaming on Netflix.