Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
Unbridled Movie Poster Image
Faith-based drama is heartfelt but amateurish, overlong.
  • PG-13
  • 2019
  • 115 minutes

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Kids say

age 12+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Promotes ideas of redemption, the healing properties of taking care of an animal like a horse, and strong faith, as well as the role of parent-child bonds in overcoming obstacles and personal tragedies.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The leaders at the Unbridled center are empathetic and kind. Sarah is brave and learns how to heal and help herself as well as her assigned horse, Dreamer. Sarah's mother is flawed and an alcoholic but ultimately makes decisions to become a better parent and do what's right. Kenny is a devoted friend.


A young woman attempts suicide, is shown lying on the ground, possibly unconscious, with bloody wrists. All the instructors and other young women are crying around her. A man threatens a young woman verbally and then physically pulls a gun on her and tells her that he'll shoot her horse if she doesn't go with him. The same man tasers someone. References (non-explicit) to how Sarah was abused by being forced to "entertain" Roger's clients. Other young women share their vulnerable backstories, and Dreamer's own history of being starved, beaten, and generally mistreated is discussed.


Veiled references to entertainment/strippers (also abuse, as noted in Violence). Flirting, longing looks between Kenny and Sarah.


One girl taunts Sarah by calling her "Ninita." "Losers," "liar."


In one scene, the camera lingers on a horse feed/supplement product that's clearly a paid product placement. (The company in question publicized that it donated money to the movie, since its celebrity equestrian spokesperson and her horse were featured in it.)

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Roger plies Karen, who's obviously an alcoholic, with liquor. Karen, stressed out and overwhelmed, opens the refrigerator and stares longingly at her bottle of vodka.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Unbridled is a subtly faith-based drama about an abused teen named Sarah (Téa Mckay) who finds help in the form of an equine-assisted therapy program. Although the movie doesn't have any graphic scenes except for a moment when a young woman who has attempted suicide is shown, seemingly unconscious, on the ground, with bloodied bandages around her wrists, there are several references to mature/heavy themes like sexual abuse, sex trafficking, parental neglect, self-harm, and alcoholism. There's a scene in which a man tasers someone and threatens a young woman (and a horse) with a gun. And there are scenes in which alcohol (mostly wine and what looks like vodka) is purposely given to an alcoholic woman to lower her defenses and force her to look the other way. But language isn't an issue, and romance is limited to a sweet friendship that includes mild flirting and a couple of meaningful looks.

User Reviews

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Teen, 14 years old Written byjohnybob44 January 26, 2020

Super good movie!

This is a great movie, and it portrays the topic of trafficking with care. There is not that much violence, although a horse and girl are threatened with a gun,... Continue reading

What's the story?

UNBRIDLED is a faith-based drama about the healing power of equine-assisted therapy for abused young women. The movie follows high schooler Sarah (Téa Mckay), who struggles at home with her alcoholic mother (Dey Young) and her mother's boyfriend (Eric Roberts), who's abusing Sarah by forcing her to service his potential clients. When Sarah's behavior in class tips off her teacher that something's wrong, the authorities place the girl in a group home and invite her to participate in the titular Unbridled, a special equine-assisted therapy program. Meanwhile, Sarah's mom -- who's been deemed unfit -- takes mandated parenting classes from Detective Sangrin (T.J. Stallings), whose own child is missing. Sarah works with Dreamer, a horse who was also abused and rarely allows people to interact with him. As Sarah continues to talk to and connect with Dreamer, they form a bond that helps both human and horse.

Is it any good?

This long horse-therapy drama is well-intentioned and heartfelt, but it suffers from uneven performances, unsatisfying pacing issues, and underwhelming screenwriting. Unbridled is riddled with stilted dialogue delivery; it's difficult to watch Mckay, who's a decent first-time actor, interact with her cohort of Unbridled patients. The conversations between "edgy" Mary (Nikko Austen Smith) and Sarah fall flat instead of creating tension. An off-putting equestrian cameo feels forced, as does the overt placement of horse feed/supplements (there's literally a close-up of the products).

On the bright side, Roberts doesn't have to do much to seem creepy, and Stallings (a fixture in the faith-based film industry) does his best to play a detective who's dealing with his own private tragedy. The movie's faith component is present but not as overt or preachy as it can be in other films in the popular genre. The subject of equine-assisted therapy is definitely compelling, and it's important to discuss with teens the various themes the movie explores, but Unbridled misses the mark.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the violence in Unbridled. Is it necessary to the story? What's the best way for parents and teens to discuss heavy issues such as abuse and self-harm?

  • Who do you think the movie's intended audience is? Are the faith-based parts as clear as they are in other movies?

  • Are there any role models in the movie? What character strengths do they display through their actions? Why is perseverance an important skill?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love horses

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

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