Horse Girl, the new Netflix movie from director Jeff Baena, is less than 2 hours long, but feels like twice that. Easily half the scenes could have been cut to make a more focused movie. At times Horse Girl tries to be a thriller, sometimes it’s an awkward comedy, and at other times it wants to be a commentary on mental illness. None of these directions are executed well or with any nuance, and the result is one of the most boring Netflix Originals to date.
Horse Girl centres around Sarah (Alison Brie), a quirky fabric store attendant and part-time riding instructor. Sarah spends most of her time alone watching reruns of Purgatory, a paranormal detective show reminiscent of Supernatural. Early in the film, Sarah starts having strange dreams featuring two people she has never met. As she investigates, Sarah meets the people from her dreams and becomes convinced she’s a clone of her grandmother.
So is she a clone of her grandmother? Not only does the movie fail to make this clear, but it also doesn’t really seem to care. Horse Girl consists mostly of loosely connected scenes that don’t advance any of the points mentioned above. Early on, Sarah is introduced to Darren (John Reynolds) at a party for her birthday. She ends up dating Darren, and eventually their relationship culminates in a brief chat about conspiracy theories before they break up. She recognizes and begins stalking one of the people from her dreams, and then the plot thread is abandoned. Near the end, she spends some time in a mental hospital and then gets released.
If there’s any saving grace to Horse Girl, it’s that the actors seem invested. Alison Brie (who also helped write the film) delivers a sincere performance that certainly has its moments, despite the weak writing. Jake Picking is hilarious as Sarah’s roommate’s boyfriend Brian, an abrasive, overly masculine goofball who thinks way too highly of his rap skills. Finally, every scene from the over-the-top show-within-a-show Paranormal was brilliantly done.
Baena should have considered making a full-length episode of Paranormal instead of this movie.