"Horse Girl” is a movie about an arts and craft store employee, Sarah (Allison Brie), who begins to struggle to distinguish her dreams from reality in her everyday life. The movie made its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival on Jan. 27 and is now available to watch on Netflix. While it was a film with good actors in it, such as Brie, Debby Ryan (Nikky) and John Reynolds (Darren), the characters they played lacked depth. It got increasingly more difficult to watch and harder to follow because of the amount of silence it had for no good reason. Despite the negatives, it does give viewers a heavy dose of reality when discussing mental health and how it gets treated by medical professionals in the United States.
There were great actors in the movie with impressive line ups. Brie was known for her work as Annie Edison in the comedy series “Community,” Trudy Campbell in the drama series “Mad Men,” Diane Nguyen in the animated comedy series “BoJack Horseman” and Ruth Wilder in the comedy-drama series “GLOW,” which is still airing. Ryan was best known for her time on Disney Channel in shows like “Suite Life on Deck” and “Jessie.” Reynolds is known for his starring role in “Search Party” and his recurring role on “Stranger Things” as Officer Callahan.
Although there were known actors, the characters lacked depth and insight to actually make them feel like real people. Sarah was defined by her love for horses and often watched her favorite show called “Purgatory.” Her roommate, Nikky, works, parties and has a boyfriend, but that is all the viewers ever get to know about her. Viewers learn about Darren’s weird relationship with his ex and how he is roommates with Nikky’s boyfriend but do not really get to know him as a character, aside from him being interested in Sarah. It is hard to keep watching the movie if the characters can hardly be seen as real people, which is where the lack of depth in the characters becomes problematic.
The movie struggled to get the viewer’s attention overall for being very slow-moving. It feels like forever between the parts where things actually happen and for viewers with short attention spans this will pose as an issue. Most of this movie’s runtime is in silence. While the silence is good to have while she is lucid dreaming, it feels like more could be done with it any other time. The audience does not need to stare at random objects, like water towers, while Sarah is on her way home from work. For example, they could have focused on being in the car with her, watching her be a real person, listening to the radio or on the phone with someone like her roommate or Darren. When Sarah starts lucid dreaming and seeing those hallucinations, things get strung along into daily life, which actually caught attention for being so bizarre. However, as a viewer, it was easier to get interested and more invested in her watching Purgatory, rather than what the movie was focused on itself.
The way they addressed mental health was exceptionally accurate to how some patients get treated, however, it was very concerning. Sarah does not remember going to the hospital to get any help before, but her clinician remembers her. The clinician recognizing her does bring the audience to assume she has been in this downward spiral once before, but given that, why is nothing done about her seemingly worsening conditions? The clinician somehow does not seem to think that lack of memory is an issue. In any normal case, there would have been some sort of evaluation to make sure the patient is okay. However, they just prescribe her pills for her symptoms and send her on her way. The explanation of her deteriorating mental health is what is causing issues for her throughout the movie is not shocking, but how it was treated was because it does not reflect the reality of the treatment of mental health. Because of that the ending left a lot of unanswered questions and left the movie feeling unfinished in a sense.
“Horse Girl” was a very difficult movie to watch and actually enjoy. The characters lacked the necessary depth for the audience to connect with them. The abundance of silence made it a struggle to not get bored lost. However, the one thing it had going for it was the slightly realistic treatment of mental health. All of that combined made “Horse Girl” an overall unenjoyable and boring movie, earning Horse Girl its 4 out of 10 stars. While being a psychological movie about an antisocial adult, it really missed the mark. “Horse Girl” is available to watch on Netflix.