By Chris Campo
Every so often, a film comes around that looks to be the perfect film for those edgy teenagers that quote them on twitter and go on and on about how deep they are. Some of these films are good, but most of the time they are pretentious. If you heard of Thoroughbreds before seeing the film (which I had not), you'd probably be quick to judge. It's marketed as a poppy, angsty, gif-able and #relatable film that screams straight to Netflix time-waster. However, if you give it a shot, you might just be surprised by this fun little thriller that has more layers than what's shown in its awful trailers.
Thoroughbreds takes a while to feed any tangible information to its audience. The real plot of the film doesn't kick in for quite some time. So, to respect the filmgoing experience, I will try and be light on plot details. All you need to know is that Amanda (Olivia Cooke) and Lily (Anya Taylor-Joy) were once childhood friends, but slowly grew away from each other. When Amanda is involved in a violent incident, the only person willing to get involved in her life is Lily. After a few awkward interactions with one another, they bond over hatching a sinister scheme to get rid of a big problem in one of their lives.
This film is good. And this film is not what it was marketed as. This is a slow burn, a real slow burn. But if you stick with it, it's a film worth seeing. It's not mind-blowing, and it's not a hidden gem I'm going to brag about being the only person in my friend-group to know about it (like I have been known to do). I am, however, excited to see the sophomore effort from first time writer/director Cory Finley.
This is a solid debut on the directorial side of things. You can tell Finley is hungry to impress. The film looks beautiful, and there are a few stellar sequences, including a shot towards the end of the film that sent shivers down my spine. Any other director would choose a more gratuitous or flashy sequence, but Finley decides to hold a shot and the risk payed off. It's the best scene in the film and it was easily the make or break moment in the film's plot.
This plot, however is stretched thin. Like I said, they hold back on delivering important information, but once we know what's going on there's not much to it. It feels like the whole film takes place in the second act, with the first act serving as just character introductions, and a third act to tie the film in an overly-convenient and borderline unfinished bow. The film ends so abruptly I was sort of in shock. It feels as though the final moments of a much bigger third act are simply not there.
If this film should be remembered for anything, it's the performances. This isn't the best work of either Anya Taylor Joy or Olivia Cooke, but it helps to prove the point that these are two of the brightest upcoming stars in Hollywood. Most of the film is just them talking and yet they carry the film very well. Props to Cooke for delivering the funniest Holocaust joke I have heard in a film in... well... forever? This film also marks the final performance of late Anton Yelchin, whose appearance is brief, but also impactful and unforgettable.
Thoroughbreds is a fun midnight type film. It's not a game changer, or all that memorable, but it is a fun watch filled with great performances from a young talented cast. It's not the cringe-y Heathers rip off the marketing team thinks it is, like something along the lines of the CW's Riverdale, but instead it's a breezy and entertaining directorial debut that I would recommend renting or streaming.
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