I wasn’t sure what if anything “The White Horse is Dead” was trying to be. Was it a thriller? A statement about the sheer monotony of wealth, the trappings of beauty? A parable about loneliness? The ill effects of an over-bearing parent? What I knew in the end was that it was basically a dull and utterly rambling film about three people in a mansion colliding with one another for no real reason. On many occasions, Red Sky attempts to head his story in to a mystical meta-physical study of a girl using leeches to suck the sadness from her, but I could never get what the point of the entire film was at all. Naya is the daughter of an over-bearing and vain woman who forces her to appear at model auditions, and photo shoots to become the woman she could never be. And Naya goes along with it to please her, and not rock the boat.
“The White Horse is Dead” could have been an interesting “Sunset Boulevard” sort of thriller about a young girl attached to her stage mom, but it never gets off the ground. In brief glimpses, the film shows potential, with dialogue involving Naya’s loss of identity. She’s a girl who is so used to performing by her mother’s standards, she has no idea who she is, but Red Sky rarely ever touches on that aspect. The entire film is reliant on a rambling story of Naya serving her mom, her mom attempting to seduce the grounds keeper, the grounds keeper romancing Naya, over and over, and we get nowhere. Star Resmine Atis (who resembles a young Asia Argento) gives a truly wooden performance, never expressing the quiet despair, or conflicting loyalties a character like this would require, and Red Sky’s script never takes advantage of any of the characters.
Stemer’s performance as the overbearing manipulative Giselle who plays a character centered on clichés of the pill popping seductive mom who boinks every man that steps in through her door. This archetype would have been tolerable, had Stemer’s performance been convincing enough. Red Sky’s script is all over the place, with characters that are never interesting, a main character that has no aspects that make her likable, and a story that goes nowhere. Red Sky anxiously tries to push the mother-daughter dynamic on the audience that never works. We’re supposed to believe many things about this mom and daughter, that Naya is subservient, Giselle demanding, their relationship based on rivalry, but none of it ever feels genuine. Red Sky’s film is simply a dull melodramatic missed opportunity.