Thoroughbreds review: Cory Finley directs Olivia Cooke, Anya-Taylor Joy and Anton Yelchin in this delightful, very atmospheric, indelible film.

Thoroughbreds review by Awais Irfan.

Thoroughbreds review
Thoroughbreds review

There’s a lot of comparisons to American Psycho and Heathers being made with director Cory Finley’ stark feature debut. But, frankly, it’s the best broad-stroke encapsulation of what this film is: if those two cult classics had a demented baby, it would look something like Thoroughbreds.

When the proper and privileged Lily (Anya-Taylor Joy) – a step-daughter of wealth and the bourgeoise – meets the sociopathic, emotionally vacant Anna (Olivia Cooke) – who euthanises horses in her free-time – the pair quickly hit it off like PB & J; however, when Lily’s step-father Mark (Paul Sparks) wants to send her off to a boarding school for the troubled, the girls begin plotting his demise – and softcore criminal Tim (Anton Yelchin) is brought into the mix to assist the murder.

Related: New clip and poster for Thoroughbreds

The film is quick to establish its tone, opening with Anna’s horse meeting its brutal end. From there, Thoroughbreds doesn’t exactly lighten its mood – a constant downward spiral into the rabbit hole, only getting darker and more twisted as it goes on. So it’s safe to say that this isn’t a film everyone will find to their liking. However, for those that like deliciously dark, razor-edged comedies blended with tension so sharp it could slice through wood, Thoroughbreds is for you. At its heart, this is a story about friendship – albeit a messed up one, but a friendship nonetheless. And the dynamic between Lily and Anna is electric and compelling; at the end of the day, these two girls – despite appearing radically opposite on the exterior – are more similar than first meets the eye. Finley somehow finds relatability to their sociopathic nature – it’s a testament to his craft to be able to keep us so invested in a friendship that is so far removed from normality and society.

Thoroughbreds review
Thoroughbreds review

The writing is fizzing with brilliance; it’s such a sharp screenplay, one that would give even the likes of Taylor Sheridan’s dark thrillers a run for their money. The exchanges between the girls are fast and furious and full of such comedic ingenuity. Thoroughbreds is undeniably hysterical – we’re still early into 2018 but this is already in serious contention for funniest film of the year – yet the humour is smart and so quick that it will lose the lazy ear, but will reward the sharp amongst its audience. The performances are excellent too; Taylor-Joy and Cooke make for such a superb pairing – their chemistry is rich and their back-and-forth is riveting – yet they bring so much individually to their respective roles. The screenplay does a great job at realising these two leads and their friendship but it perhaps falls flat in building a very realistic and interesting myriad of characters around them; there’s not much to the plot other than these two girls wanting to kill one of their step-fathers so it can feel thin in this regard – there’s not much when scratching beneath the surface.

Thoroughbreds review
Thoroughbreds review

However, Thoroughbreds remains a fantastic film nonetheless. It is hilarious. It is deliciously dark. Finley’s orchestration of tension is masterful, as he creates such a claustrophobic atmosphere that has the slow-suffocating effect of a snake slowly coiling around its prey. It’s a gorgeously directed film; the cinematography, despite utilising a bleak and dark colour palette, is fitting for the film’s tone and looks great. The late Anton Yelchin is also terrific in his small but scene-stealing role as Tim – he’s utterly hysterical and it only hurts so much more that we lost such a talent so young. Cory Finley has done an exceptional job in creating a very atmospheric and indelible film here; Thoroughbreds is darkly triumphant, a hysterical and striking debut anchored by two powerhouse performances in Anya-Taylor Joy and Olivia Cooke. What a delight.

Thoroughbreds review by Awais Irfan, March 2018.

Thoroughbreds will be released on 6th April 2018.

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Thoroughbreds