After making its critically acclaimed debut at Sundance last year, Cory Finley’s Thoroughbreds finally saw the light of day last weekend. The film was originally titled Thoroughbred, but shortly after the premiere, Focus Features acquired the distribution rights and decided to make changes to its name. Currently with a certified fresh rating of 86% on Rotten Tomatoes, first time director has certainly maintained an exquisite status with critics.
Thoroughbreds takes place in a quiet suburb of Connecticut. After taking the life of her family’s horse, Amanda (Olivia Cooke) is charged with animal cruelty, shunned by her fellow students, and the rest of the community. As time passes by, Amanda’s mother arranges a tutoring session with an old childhood friend, Lily (Anya Taylor-Joy). Lily acts prim and proper, academically proficient, and appears to live a luxurious life in a mansion with her mother (Francie Swift), and stepfather, Mark (Paul Sparks). She holds a highly prestigious boarding school on her transcript, and a fancy internship on her resume.
As it turns out, things are not as glorious as they seem. Mark, has an unhealthy obsession with fitness and dieting, and is also extremely verbally abusive to his stepdaughter and wife. After a few more visits, it doesn’t take long to for Amanda to see that Lily’s life isn’t so marvelous. This realization leads to a discussion between the girls about taking Mark out of the picture, permanently.
After being blown away by Tyler MacIntyre’s Tragedy Girls last year, I was interested in seeing how it would compare to Thoroughbreds, as they seemed similar upon viewing the trailers. I will admit that both have their own unique take on creating a Heathers atmosphere, but each one definitely stands out on their own individually. Thoroughbreds incorporates elements of American Psycho, The Shining, and the neo-noir film genre, while Tragedy Girls is more like Wes Craven’s 1996 slasher, Scream. Needless to say, Thoroughbreds did not disappoint and led up to its hype.
The chemistry between leads Olivia Cooke and Anya Taylor-Joy in this psychological thriller is absolutely mesmerizing. There’s something truly organic in the way they deliver such dark and grotesque dialogue, while also making the audience laugh. The late Anton Yelchin, who passed away last summer, also delivers a strong final performance as the drug dealing sex offender, Tim. Without these solid performers, this film could have went a different direction.
In conclusion, Thoroughbreds is a suspenseful, dark, yet hilarious ride that takes place in an environment of first world problems, and leads to a bloodbath of heartbreak and deceit. This is a ride that I would personally love to take over and over again. Writer and director, Cory Finley, truly has outdone himself with such an entertaining debut. I can’t wait to see what else he has up his sleeve.
I am giving Thoroughbreds a 4 Out of 5 Hairpieces!