Review of Horse Girl (2020)


Carolina Gonzalez

My first thought after finishing this film was “what was that? what kind of movie was that?”. It didn’t make sense. If I’m being honest, it still makes zero sense. However, this isn’t necessarily a negative thing since the story did exactly what it was intended to do: it made the viewer feel crazy. The story follows Sarah (Alison Brie), a timid and socially awkward woman, as her life quickly falls into a hole of mental deterioration when she becomes obsessed with the theory that she is a clone of her grandmother’s who is going to be abducted by aliens. What starts off as strange dreams quickly take a turn as Sarah’s obsession grows to envelop her reality. 

The film is an incredible, yet heavily dramatized portrayal of the extent that mental illness can take people. The director, Jeff Baena, did a surreal job of creating a film that not only told a story but also allowed the viewer to feel what Sarah was feeling amidst her delusions. Some scenes of the film felt so real that it became easy to believe that maybe Sarah was actually going to be abducted. From the missing time to the eerie glitch’s in her reality, there were quite a few points that felt too specific to merely be about mental illness. However, as the film develops it becomes clear that the misunderstandings root back to Sarah being an unreliable narrator because of her mental illness. Alison Brie, the screenwriter, and the actress playing Sarah opened up about the film and explained that the story is an artistic take on her grandmother’s experience with paranoid schizophrenia and her life-long fear of developing the same mental illness. This explanation adds an entirely different layer into the film, as it shows that the film isn’t merely a story, but it is a reality for people living with this mental illness.

Unlike other portrayals of mental illness, Horse Girl doesn’t feel the need to romanticize the story. It delivers it realistically, and while there are specific parts that are heavily dramatized, the story manages to remain an honest depiction of the loss of one’s sanity. 

Rate: 80/100