Thoroughbreds (Cory Finley, 2017) USA

Reviewed by Michael G. Viewed at AFI Fest 2017.

A tantalizing modern thriller/horror, director Cory Finley debuts with a brilliantly engaging and frightening film that plays with your emotions . . . or lack thereof. Actresses Anya Taylor-Joy (playing as Lily) and Olivia Cooke (playing as Amanda) bring a beautiful and yet somehow revolting quality to their friendship which makes the story all the more intriguing. Playing in his last film, Anton Yelchin’s (playing as Tim) character sets a stark contrast between class systems bringing with him the beautiful dreamlike fantasies surrounding a drug dealing millennial wanna-be. With its tantalizing camera movements, spine tingly musical score, and eerie relationships, Thoroughbreds is a proper modern classic that singles itself out for its originality and design.

Thoroughbreds surrounds the lives of two upper-middle class american girls in suburban Connecticut who’s longtime relationship now exists bordering on insanity. Amanda and Lily’s relationship, rather cold and frightening but at the same time terribly amusing, is in stark contrast to the grandeur that is Lily’s stepfather Mark’s (played by Paul Sparks) mansion and estate. As Lily’s patience and tolerance for Mark runs thin, the girls develop a plan . . .  a manipulating plot that bends all lines between reality and fantasy, twisting and contorting as is the mind of the protagonist shifts through time. Amanda’s complete lack of emotion pushes Lily to accept to possible reality that all emotion is learned and therefore can be trained. Mark becomes the nemesis of Lily who will stop at nothing to ensure he leaves in piece. As the film progresses, the only eerie reminder of his presence in his house is the constant thrum of the ergometer as Mark rows his troubles away.

Setting a mood of anxiety and fear, the music by Erik Friedlander is nothing short of spectacular in a way that reminds clearly of the thriller/horror classic “The Shining”. A tangy, sharp and uncomfortable rhythm persists and delves the audience into the shifting mind of Lily as the plans unfold. Anya Taylor-Joy’s (playing as Lily) doll like appearance and shrewdly perfect manners set contrast to Olivia Cooke (playing as Amanda) who is the antithesis of emotion or courtesy.

The film beautifully, with detail brought in to entice the viewer and begging to see more. Playing with our imagination, the film hides just enough so that our imaginations can run wild with each scene.

Definitely a must watch movie of 2017.



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