To be young in America, according to Cory Finley, is to be in over your head with ideas of extremeness, looking for that unlikely friendship to lash it all out on. Thoroughbreds relies on the stark differences between two former friends and the murder most foul that will absolve them of problems. They have fallen out of favour with one another, and it is clear to see why. They are from different backgrounds. While their outlooks and upbringing are different, they are brought together, presumably by hobbies and activities they share with one another off-screen. It does not matter all too much to the story Thoroughbreds wishes to spin. Nothing much does matter to Finley and his simple-yet-cutting narrative.
As he breaches through with surprisingly necessary simplicity, there is a notion that Thoroughbreds will rely more on the charm of its leading characters than their chemistry. Olivia Cooke and Anya Taylor-Joy play well with their simplistic roles. One is the rich, well-to-do student, the other a rebellious freak. A disparity between the two is made obvious, for that is the only way we can believe these characters are going to fall in and out of friendship so rapidly. It’s a miracle that they rekindle their friendship anyway, most of my old friends want nothing to do with me, but that is because I am a liability, rather than a psychopath like Amanda (Cooke). One suggestion of murder from the mouth of Amanda, and some barebones convincing for Lily Reynolds (Taylor-Joy) to join the scheme, and Thoroughbreds is ready to cement itself as a chilling killer thriller.
But as it makes these moves and begins to construct a dangerous and twisted game of double-crosses and blackmail, its charm is lost in the translation. While its first act is uncomfortable and awkward, to reflect how the characters feel toward one another, the pacing elsewhere is unable to grasp that notion a second time. We are not given a glimpse into the importance of the relationship between character chemistry and pacing again. A shame, too, since Finley does, for quite some time, lure his audience into believing something of inherent value or something atypical to the thriller genre may happen. It soon spins into the usual shady characters, with the late Anton Yelchin introduced as Tim, a fine role for a fine man, who really gets to grips with what is asked of him regarding the story, but is unable to display his charms for more than a few brief moments.
An unremarkable drama at times, and while its twists are ineffective critiques of the disparity between the leading pair, Thoroughbreds has strong performances that keep the film afloat. Suburban problems in America, what an original and chilling premise. It’s an overutilized setting that, often, does not offer much up apart from broken hearts and hapless families. Thoroughbreds moves away from that enough to cement itself as a compelling, simplistic thriller. But the best thrillers have charm and depth to them, something this Finley feature flirts with, but never claims for its own.