Original Title: Thoroughbreds
Year of Release: 2018
Genres: Drama; Thriller
Director: Cory Finley
Writer: Cory Finley
Main Cast: Olivia Cooke, Anya Taylor-Joy, Anton Yelchin, Paul Sparks
I came into this expecting a fun and colorful dark comedy, but what I got was actually far deeper and better than anything I could have imagined. A peculiar story of friendship and identity, Thoroughbreds features two outstanding performances by Olivia Cooke and Anya Taylor-Joy, and effective supporting ones by Paul Sparks and the late Anton Yelchin.
Originally released on a limited theatrical run, the film is finally available on VOD, making the experience feel more intimate and eerie. This is Cory Finley’s directorial debut, but he has had a career writing and directing theater plays, and it shows. The story is set in very confined spaces, and almost every scene features dialogue between characters, however this is an inherently cinematic movie, mainly thanks to the excellent cinematography by Lyle Vincent: the smooth steady-cam long takes create an eerie atmosphere that constantly keeps you on edge, almost turning Taylor-Joy’s mansion into a modern-day Overlook Hotel.
Olivia Cooke is chillingly cold as Amanda, a sociopath who proves absolutely no emotions or feelings for anything or anyone. The chemistry between her and the seemingly-normal Lily (played by Anya Taylor-Joy) is peculiar to say the least, with the two becoming more open with one another as they start revealing how they truly feel about their lives. Taylor-Joy especially shines in this film, becoming more ruthless and angry against her step-father as the film goes on, creating a series of events that slowly keeps building tension, until the final 10 minutes. This is a slow-moving film driven almost exclusively by dialogue, and it can be quite a chore for some to watch, but if you manage to stay with it, the ending gives great meaning and closure to the film, elevating many moments that at first seemed pointless.
Overall, Thoroughbreds is a truly great feature-debut by Cory Finley. With excellent performances, masterful building of tension and atmosphere, smart dialogue that is also low-key funny, this is one of the most underseen films of the year, and one that you should check out as soon as you can.
Visual Effects: 8
Violence & Gore: 6
Sex & Nudity: 3
Drugs & Profanity: 5
Intensity & Horror: 6