The dreams and realities get jumbled around.
“Horse Girl” is a familiar kind of drama-one that questions the fabric of dreams and reality. It’s sentimental and complicated in the story of a socially awkward woman, who wants to make some new friends, while pondering if she’s in some kind of Sci-Fi fantasy. Finding its way on Netflix, “Horse Girl” balances both topics, allowing each side to get their basis, until they merge towards the end when things go too far for me to handle.
That socially awkward girl caught in a web of fantasy and reality would happen to be Sarah (Alison Brie, also the writer and producer).
The bio on her: she works in a craft shop, has only a few friends, including her manager Joan (Molly Shannon) and her roommate Nikki (Debby Ryan), watches a supernatural crime show “Purgatory” (starring Robin Tunney and Matthew Gray Gubler) while making lanyards, and tries to make new friends at a horse ranch and her Zumba classes. And by the way, she loves horses, too.
Now, let’s discuss the fantasies.
She also begins to have nightmares about her lying in some kind of purgatory with two people lying next to her. One of them is Ron (John Ortiz), who in reality runs a plumbing company. Also, one night she feels like she has been sleepwalking for 25 minutes, but actually, she’s been gone for 2 minutes. And inspired by a “Purgatory” episode, she believes she either might be a clone or has been cloned. Note the different in saying.
Yup, she believes she’s part of an alien conspiracy.
On the side, her roommate nags to her about getting scratches on their apartment wall fixed, and she begins dating another socially awkward character named Darren (John Reynolds), who has the same name as the “Purgatory” character. That is until she freaks him out with her cloning idea. Matter of fact, she begins to deteriorate herself in the process.
“Horse Girl,” co-written and directed by Jeff Baena (“The Little Hours,” “I Heart Huckabees”) and produced by Mark and Jay Duplass, is a strange film with familiar elements that either work or overdose. It begins at an interesting rate when we meet Sarah and her personalities, and finishes a bit too crazy when we see her fantasies. Or at least she thinks they aren’t fantasies.
Brie gives a sweet and flexible performance as her, in the ways she balances her emotions from sentimental values to paranoia. There are moments when she’s vulnerable and moments when she struggles to grasp the concept of her being. And she’s also given likable supporting work from Shannon, Ryan, Reynolds, and Jay Duplass (cameoing as a psychiatrist).
This is a mixed bag for me, but I started liking the film, but then my enthusiasm got weaker, once the Sci-fi talk began to consume the sweetness of Sarah’s introduction. Yes there are fascinating sequences like the purgatory dream, which is just a white room with water and a ramp in later scenes. But in other cases, when she freaks out, it goes a bit over the top.
It’s in the right place, but at the wrong time.
Now Available for Streaming on Netflix