Blu-ray: Thoroughbreds

STUDIO: Universal | DIRECTOR: Cory Finley | CAST: Olivia Cooke, Anya Taylor-Joy, Paul Sparks, Anton Yelchin, Francie Swift
RELEASE DATE: June 5, 2018 | PRICE: DVD $17.96, Blu-ray $19.96
BONUSES: featurette, character profiles, deleted scenes
SPECS: R | 92 min. | Thriller drama | 2.40:1 widescreen | DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1/Dolby Digital 5.1 | French, Spanish and English subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie | Audio  | Video  | Overall 

If David Mamet would have written and directed Heathers, it may have looked something like Thoroughbreds.

The first feature from writer/director Cory Finley delves into the dark relationship between two privileged teens, Amanda (Olivia Cook, Ready Player One) and Lily (Anya Taylor-Joy, Split), who collaborate on a diabolical murder plot. Amanda, who recently returned to her upper class suburban Connecticut home after she was sent away for a mysterious incident, re-establishes a friendship with troubled Lily, who has been paid by Amanda’s mother to get close to her daughter again. The two teens conspire to kill Mark (Paul Sparks, TV’s Boardwalk Empire) Lily’s abusive stepfather, eventually drawing a desperate drug dealer (Anton Yelchin, Star Trek: Into Darkness) into their complex plot.

A spare, dark murder saga story with limited thrills but plenty of posturing and precisely cool Mamet-esque dialogue and direction, Thoroughbreds doesn’t quite live up to the intriguing idea behind the film.

Olivia Cooke (r.) and Anya Taylor-Joy in Thoroughbreds

That’s not to say there aren’t things to like here, especially the back-and-forth between the two demented lead characters, played sharply by Cooke and  Taylor-Joy, and a terrific final performance by the late Yelchin, who was beginning to make his mark as one of Hollywood’s most reliable character actors when he passed away in 2016.

Thoroughbreds becomes more complicated as it goes on and begins to lose steam past the half-way point. And it’s overly-composed, theatrical-like approach to the proceedings (it was originally written as a play) doesn’t help take it to the finish line.

It’s obvious that Finley has talent, but he may be better off to go lighter on the attitude. It would also help if the film could provide a social context to the dark stuff going. But the young writer-director seems to have adapted the old Hollywood adage: “If you want to send a message, try Western Union.”

An indie buy from Focus Features at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival, the low-budget Thoroughbreds brought in just under $3 million during a limited theatrical run. One senses its target teenage audience never really sought it out, but word-of-mouth upon discovery could launch a possible cult hit. It also helps that rising star Olivia Cook is one of the leads.

Buy or Rent Thoroughbreds

About Irv

Irv Slifkin has been reviewing movies since before he got kicked off of his high school radio station for panning The Towering Inferno in 1974. He has written the books VideoHound’s Groovy Movies: Far-Out Films of the Psychedelic Era and Filmadelphia: A Celebration of a City’s Movies, and has contributed film reportage and reviews to such outlets as Entertainment Weekly, The Hollywood Reporter, Video Business magazine and National Public Radio.