Chandler Gibson • Editor-in-Chief
In January, at the Sundance Film Festival, Netflix premiered their new psychodrama, “Horse Girl.” On Feb. 7, Netflix released the movie to their streaming platform.
The movie tells the story of Sarah (Alison Brie), a loner with a family history of mental illness working at a craft store and her slow-burn psychotic breakdown across the almost two-hour runtime. A twisted line of reasoning leading her to believe that she has been abducted by aliens, cloned from her grandmother’s DNA and then that she is herself her grandmother taken from the past into the future.
The film progresses in a very interesting way--it starts off light and bright, with a seemingly-picturesque life of a young girl working at a craft store, working with horses and mentoring a former horseback rider with brain damage after being thrown from a horse in a flashback. By the time we realize something is going wrong, specifically wrong to the tune of lost time, blackouts, dreams of alien abductions and finally a nightmarish fugue state combining all three previous crises, leaving her dripping wet and naked at her job with no memory of how she got there.
So I’ve seen a lot of weird movies, and this one is up there. First off, it’s not an attention-grabber. I remember getting up to grab some cheese a couple of times during the movie, and coming back as confused as when I left. Second, I’m not sure the movie wants to keep our attention, because part of the thrill in this psychological rollercoaster is the fact that we have no idea what’s going on, either.
Sarah slowly unravels with the anxiety of a DNA test returning slower-than-normal results. Similar to 23andMe and Ancestry.com, her test was supposed to show her where she is from, but, being obsessed with the notion that she is a clone of her grandmother, she interpreted the issue as the company just did not know what to do with the sample. Her solution: dig up her grandmother’s grave with a pair of fabric scissors and obtain a sample to compare to her own.
I feel like I’m not explaining the plot correctly, but I looked it up, and I’m still confused. Like, I don’t think I can even explain this story.
The movie is reminiscent of a 1980s science-fiction, with electronic background music that feels extremely “Race to Witch Mountain,” or “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.” The juxtaposition of electronic beeps against tense psychodrama makes the viewer uncomfortable, and keeps the self-narrative of alien abductions in the minds of the viewers.
Every camera shot appears comfortable, despite conveying something incredibly tense. The flow between scenes and locations is seamless, facilitating the narrative of lost time and alternate dimensions.
I can’t explain why the movie ends where it started, with a horse walking through the craft store parking lot, or why Sarah’s roommate becomes a different person, or if Sarah was actually abducted by aliens. I can tell you that if you’re thinking about watching this movie, whether you pay attention or not, you’ll still have no idea what’s going on.
That’s just the way it’s going to be.