Directed by Jeff Baena and co-written by lead actress Alison Brie, Netflix’s quirky thriller Horse Girl has racked up some decent reviews. These include four stars from our own Liam Maguren, who called the film “challenging, compassionate…a rewatchable oddity”.
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Even less enthusiastic reviewers applauded the film for its originality above all: a bizarre plot, distinctive sci-fi visuals, and a vulnerable, kooky lead performance. But what if everything that makes Horse Girl so unique is actually borrowed from an existing film? Beware – spoiler alerts for Horse Girl abound.
After watching the movie, indie filmmaker Joe Gadon made a Facebook post accusing producers the Duplass Brothers, Baena and Brie of essentially making a “bigger budget” version of his film The God Inside My Ear. That post has since been deleted, but Gadon came through with the receipts, editing together a video of the most egregious similarities between Horse Girl and his own 2018 micro-budget drama film. Check it out below and make up your own mind;
In a follow-up post on Reddit, Gadon continued:
“OK guys, This is the writer/director of the film THE GOD INSIDE MY EAR. I made this film with my own money (under $10k) and with an all volunteer cast/crew. It was a passion project for sure. We shot the film in 2017 and sent it to film festivals in early 2018. It was released on DVD/Bluray and streaming late 2018/early 2019. Enter HORSE GIRL (2020).
The new Netflix film HORSE GIRL (2020) and THE GOD INSIDE MY EAR (2018) have a lot of similar plot points. Some similarities are more mundane but some similarities are SPOT ON;
Both main characters (girls) have just recently experienced the loss of a loved one. That loss makes both girls reclusive.
Both girls work in sales positions at department stores.
Both girls start hearing voices.
Both girls take a drug that transports them to a white room with a black creature.
Both girls are urged by their friends to start dating again.
Both girls go on blind dates.
Both girls feel drawn to a humming building in town.
Both girls visit this building in the middle of the night (in their pajamas).
Both girls are reincarnations (or clones) of past dead people.
Both girls consult with a shaman who give them a magic thing that will drive out their demons. One girl gets nose bleeds. One girl gets ear bleeds.
Both girls go to an ear, nose, throat doctor about their bleeding orifices. Both doctors refer them to a psychiatrist/psychologist.
Both girls do a dance and a ritual with their magic/shaman thing in their respective living rooms in order to ward off their evil demons.
Both girls get stuck in a small lock space where the door to that space magically opens so that they can escape.
Both girls are visited by younger versions of themselves.
Both girls walk or ascend into a bright all encompassing light at the very end of the film. And those are just the things I can think of off the top of my head.”
Whether Gadon is just bitterly trying to cash in on some artificial similiarities, or whether he’s truly a wronged, struggling filmmaker who got ripped off by one of the most powerful filmmaking corporations of our time, this is not a good look for Netflix. They inevitably fall into the villain role in this David and Goliath situation.
Netflix and the talent associated with the film have not responded yet, but viewers and critics on both sides of the debate have come out with their own takes. We might have to wait to see if the similarities result in legal action, or whether they’re too generic to matter.