• Nate Adams

Review: Netflix cerebral 'Horse Girl' falls into the depths of absurdity


Courtesy of Netflix

On its surface, “Horse Girl” is a wild and pulpy descent into madness that finds an interesting performance from Allison Brie.

Brie plays lowly arts and crafts worker Sarah, an oddball who would rather spend time on the couch watching her favorite TV show, “Purgatory,” or hang with her therapy horse than dabble in human companionship.

Really though, she’s a woman struggling to maintain the balance of reality and fiction. She’s got a roommate, Nikki (Debby Ryan) who has a boyfriend who's got a friend he would like to connect with Sarah. She goes to Zumba, but nobody there wants to hang out with her, what gives?

Turns out, Sarah is carrying some skeletons in her closet.

Tensions arise as Brie looks for a foundation to lay around her character and “Horse Girl” starts to wander down the rabbit hole and becomes quietly unnerving (she saves the movie from being a total awkward bust). I’m all for the strange and unknown, but “Horse Girl” feels like a magic trick: leaning into a quirky character study before finding itself unexpectedly in a dark corner, gasping for air.

Director Jay Baena (“The Little Hours”) takes giant leaps and tries to get over a rocky start by offering unique ways to explore mental illness. However, the balance never finds equilibrium, not to mention the onslaught of subplots (Sarah’s mother death is discussed but never explained) are never fully realized. By the time the end credits roll, you might shake your head in disbelief.

Grade: C-