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Review: Thoroughbreds

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PLOT: If an effort to help an emotionally scarred young girl, her mother attempts to reunite her with her daughter’s old friend. As the two rekindle their awkward relationship, they hatch a deadly plot that will take care of a few problematic, family issues.

REVIEW: One of my favorite films (and plays) is the incredible EQUUS, a movie that also features a horrific scene involving the death of horses. It's a fascinating look at a troubled mind. Similarly, the new thriller THOROUGHBREDS opens with familiar horrors comparable to the 1977 classic film, although this time the violence is off-screen. Originally written as a play, writer and director Cory Finley has crafted a slick and disturbed tale for his feature film debut. There is very little blood and very little actual on-screen graphic imagery. Even still, the level of tension here is especially impressive as we watch these two characters grow in a fascinating way. While you may find shades of the previously mentioned EQUUS and maybe a little HEAVENLY CREATURES, this is a twisted tale of the bond between two well-to-do young women.

Olivia Cooke is Amanda, a young girl who has been shunned by the community for a brutal act she committed against an animal. In an attempt to start her life over, her mother has convinced her to spend time with an old friend named Lily (Anya Taylor-Joy). Forced to help the strange girl, Lily finds that her facade of a happy home life fades when she is around Amanda. This is especially true when it comes to Lily’s strained relationship with her step-father Mark (Paul Sparks). When Amanda - a girl who claims she doesn’t have any kind of emotional response to anything or anyone - suggests a permanent solution in regards to Lily’s problem, the two girls meet up with a stranger named Tim (Anton Yelchin) in hopes to convince the small time criminal to help take care of business.

thoroughbreds olivia cooke anya taylor joy cory finley horror comedy paul sparks 2018

The most impressive thing about THOROUGHBREDS is the simple fact that it’s not your average thriller. In fact, you could easily look at this as a pitch black comedy. The way the filmmaker deals with such a disturbing and vicious story with heavy reliance on dialogue and a bit of stylish direction. One scene in particular - a major plot point - puts the focus away from the action but somehow it works. In fact, nearly everything works in the minimal ninety minute runtime. Perhaps that is why the tension in a dialogue heavy movie is as effective as it is. It also helps that this feature isn’t nearly as predictable as you’d expect.

When it comes to the film’s stars, there is no way this would work without solid talent on-camera. Over the past couple of years, Anya Taylor-Joy has become one of the most exciting names in horror. Whether you are talking SPLIT, MORGAN or THE WITCH, her presence is absolutely phenomenal. And this is certainly no exception. Considering she is the one that must react to Amanda’s cold and unfeeling personality, she gives yet another sublime performance. The actress has proven to be one of the most impressive young talents in genre, and she is consistently proving that she will easily make her way into bigger features. She’s the real deal.

thoroughbreds cory finley olivia cooke anya taylor joy paul sparks 2018 horror comedy

As far as her co-star, I’ve always enjoyed Olivia Cooke’s work. As Amanda, Ms. Cooke must find a way to make a cold and emotionless girl compelling. She succeeds. The chemistry between both Anya and Olivia adds yet another level. Even though Amanda isn’t the most innocent character, Olivia brings a level of depth to her that makes it effective. She can be cruel, but there is something lost in her and she is very aware of it. In a way, this makes her far more sympathetic than you’d imagine. As terrible as both Lily and Amanda can be, you have to credit the two actors and the smart script for still giving the audience a reason to care.

It would be a lie to say that seeing this and watching yet another solid performance from Anton Yelchin isn’t a bit heartbreaking - especially since this is one of his last features. However, it is nice to see the actor once again make a less desirable character charming. And speaking of less than kind characters, Paul Sparks is perfect as a jerk of a step-dad. The actor has been taking on a number of terrific projects including the TV-special event Waco and MIDNIGHT SPECIAL. It’s a nice change of pace to see the actor take on this kind of role, and he is about as far from kind as you can get.

THOROUGHBREDS is bold, funny, tense and perhaps one of the most fascinating films of the year. Anya Taylor-Joy and Olivia Cooke are exceptional as two friends who find they have a common darkness inside. The dialogue is sharp and the story is wonderfully disturbed. At times, Cory Finley feels like he is teasing us by not revealing as much as one may hope, but ultimately it works is a brilliant way. If you are wondering where the great original content in film is nowadays, you may want to seek out THOROUGHBREDS for this devilishly clever feature film debut.


Source: JoBlo.com



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