By midlandsmovies, Aug 12 2018 07:00AM
Thoroughbreds (2018) Dir. Cory Finley
With a funky hipster trailer Thoroughbreds was sold as a modern knowing twist on something along the lines of Scream, when in fact it is a far darker exploration of revenge and bitterness away from slasher genre conventions.
We are first introduced to Olivia Cooke as Amanda (The Quiet Ones, Ouija) who joins fellow horror stalwart Lily, who is played terrifically by Anya Taylor-Joy (The Witch, Split) as friends who begin a dark alliance together.
Amanda states she feels little emotion and has been in trouble for animal cruelty after putting her injured horse out of misery with a knife. After being forced to meet Lily owing to a concerned parent, the pair soon rekindle their friendship and come across Lily’s cruel step-father Mark. Their smart teenager cynicism soon grows into far more creepy territory as they discuss the possibility of killing him.
Taylor-Joy as the prim puritan who slowly reveals her morbid aims is excellent and her steely persona contrasts with Cooke’s troubled and emotionally stunted Amanda who is a mix of disturbing unhappiness and dark sarcasm.
The late (and great) Anton Yelchin appears as a drifter druggie who duo try to lure into committing the crime as the girls twist and scheme to arrange their macabre proposal. His scatty and thoughtless criminal is a more humorous role and gives the film some space outside the claustrophobic confines of Lily’s oppressive house.
Thoroughbreds therefore sits with both Heavenly Creatures (1994) and Park Chan-Wook’s Stoker (2013) as brilliant left-field and artistic studies of evil teenage tearaways. And its intentionally slow and deliberate camera moves and suburban setting are akin to those found in The Killing of a Sacred Deer and allows audiences to both be drawn into the image whilst slowly building unbearable dread. This is especially true during the third act as their psychotic plans begin to play out.
New York composer Erik Friedlander delivers a beautifully eerie score which compliments the well-designed visuals and director Finley shows a masterful control and maturity in his debut feature.
With Taylor-Joy having success with a string of hit horror roles, she is also developing far beyond her “scream queen” tag and Thoroughbreds is another fantastic addition to her career. With Cooke’s sociopathic Amanda matching her every step along the way and Yelchin showing why he is a talent so sorely missed, the film delivers a wonderful atmospheric mix of themes.
Thoroughbreds is an accomplished exploration of both egotistical and conflicted morals with an exceptional cast working at the top of their game.
Midlands Movies Mike