*Take a shot every time I say Alison Brie*
Spring gives me one of two feelings- breathlessness and the feeling of new. Fresh flowers. New chances. Knowing that no matter what, the sun will come out tomorrow. But the other one is dread. Easter pastel colors that are dead on the inside. Sunday services at 8 am that you don't want to be at. Sunny landscapes that make you think you can take your jacket off, but in reality, it's way too cold. Horse Girl is the second feeling personified. I went into this movie knowing next to nothing, except it starred Alison Brie, it was a little weird, and it was called Horse Girl. My friend Parker said that that was probably for the best, and oh my god, he’s right.
I’m not going to describe in depth what this movie is, mainly for two reasons, the first being that I want to honor Parker’s vision and my personal experience watching this, the second being that I honestly couldn’t tell you if I wanted. I truly don’t know. But the elevator pitch for Horse Girl is that it is about an introverted and peculiar woman named Sarah (played by Alison Brie) and her slow journey into a mental breakdown. I just want to get it out of the way right now- this movie is fucking weird. It’s completely and utterly batshit crazy. And if those types of movies don’t work for you, then you really won’t like this movie. But even if you do like those types of movies, you still might not like this one. This movie is like if the horse girl you knew of growing up decided to lose all of her inhibitions and become feral and unhinged. And as much as I love a cinematic moment where the heroine says ‘Fuck it!’ and lives for nobody but herself, ideas of proper femininity and general societal expectations be damned, it doesn’t really work in this instance.
There is a strange ambience of unease strung throughout, and it only puts more pressure on that arterie as the runtime furthers, doing so with an almost perfect trifecta of unsettling cinematography, a score that significantly utilizes running shower water, and stellar acting that makes my blood run cold in the best way possible. But it doesn’t quite click. And as much as I laughed at the ongoing nosebleed joke, I can’t forgive the wonky script. It feels like they rushed that stage in order to get to the fun stuff; the acting, the cameras, and the music. It loses its footing about a third of the way through, right when Sarah begins to lose her handle on reality, and subsequently, right when they needed a good script the most. Her nervous breakdown doesn’t have a solid conclusion, or much of a conclusion in general, and it’s almost insulting how quick the movie decides to just give up and blame it on the aliens.
Alison Brie (who also co-wrote the screenplay) tries hard in her portrayal of Sarah, the titular horse girl. She really does, and I will hand that to her. She commits to this really fucking weird project, not once letting up as the movie goes on, if anything, going harder and harder with every passing scene. Her character study of an isolated woman losing her mind is a fascinating one, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's well done. It’s all over the place, though I think that fault lies in the script.
This movie is weird, but not because it aims to be. I mean, it wants to be a weird movie, and it does end up being so, but that’s exactly my point. It's not for its own benefit. But like the horse girl in your sixth grade class, you acknowledge her, feel a little bad at how awkward she is, and carry on. I will say, the movie does a good job of warping your perception. It does a good job of starting off and portraying Sarah as a sane woman in a crazy world instead of vice versa, and proceeds to carry on that idea throughout the movie, even as it becomes more and more apparent that Sarah isn't okay. You still want to hold onto the notion that Sarah is in the right, that everybody else is wrong. Nobody is the real villain here, not even Sarah, who’s up against herself. But even then, we don’t even know if she won her fight or succumbed to it.
To tell the truth, I didn't take anything profound away from this. I didn't walk away feeling any different, for better or for worse. I just shut my laptop, walked outside, and went, “Damn. That was crazy. Oh well.” Did Alison Brie get abducted by aliens after all? Is she actually crazy? I don't really know, and I don't think the movie knows either. This movie has a lot of fire, a lot of passion, but no real destination. It just keeps running. At one point while watching it, I just stopped asking questions and let the movie take me for a ride. And I think that’s the best way to watch this. Embrace the open arms of Horse Girl, and she in turn will embrace you.