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Amanda (Olivia Cooke) stands face to face with her Thoroughbred horse, staring into its eyes, unblinking and unflinching. After a few moments, Amanda reaches for the hooked knife behind her…and the opening credits roll.

In Thoroughbreds (2017), Amanda visits Lily (Anya Taylor-Joy), a wealthy childhood friend, for some tutoring help. During the session, Amanda becomes noticeably  fascinated with Lily’s mannerisms, more so than with the educational material being discussed. Lilly, in turn, becomes distracted enough by Amanda to develop a  fascination with her. They continue to meet often for tutoring, reflection, and conversation. Amanda suspects, then Lily confirms, Lily’s dislike towards her stepfather Mark (Paul Sparks) and the way he mistreats her and her mother (played by Francie Swift). Besides the verbal abuse that Lily and her mother regularly receive from Mark, Lily shares with Amanda how she may be losing her patience over Mark’s disruptive daily routine on his rowing machine, located in the bedroom above where Lily watches television. When Amanda suggests to Lily a plan for murdering Mark, Lily wants nothing more to do with Amanda nor the plan. It is when Lily becomes fed up with taking abuse from Mark, in addition to her growing fascination with Amanda, that Lily decides to reconnect with Amanda to finalize their plan for Mark’s demise. Anton Yelchin plays Tim, an older drug dealer who becomes a key player in their plan – playing the patsy in their murderous plot.

Thoroughbreds is director Cory Finley’s directorial debut, and is one hell of a start in the business. Even though Finley doesn’t bring anything unique or new to the screen, he successfully borrows and blends visual and audio styles from both Kubrick and Hitchcock, while telling a story similar in style to Poe. The music score is consistent with the action and the drama onscreen – mainly composed of bass drums, and deeper-sounding string instruments. Some of the camerawork is meticulous over the visual detail, while other shots remain stagnant and choose to allow the audio to convey the terror.

Mental health and social stability are topics of interest in this film. Amanda claims to have been diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder, and Antisocial Disorder. Amanda also shares how she has trouble sympathizing with others – she has the ability to cry on cue, which gives the illusion of shared feelings. As far as for Lily, Mark claims she has a mental illness and he plans to send her to a specialized school, even though it is evident that he abuses Lily and her mother, causing them to develop severe anxiety and PTSD.

Odin Impetuous Lowe (the formal name of the Thoroughbred horse) is given a film credit, and the film is dedicated to Anton Yelchin, as this was his final film.

For something cynical, unique, and entertaining in its own quirky way, check out this breed of film stock.


Thoroughbreds is streaming now on the following services:
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