Thoroughbreds is the most fantastic thriller featuring Anya Taylor-Joy and Olivia Cooke in brilliant performances. A very impressive debut from writer-director Cory Finley.

You know Thoroughbreds has at least two things going for it and those are its two leading stars; Anya Taylor-Joy and Olivia Cooke. Honestly, I knew from this casting alone that the movie couldn’t possibly be bad.

And, of course, it wasn’t.

However, I didn’t expect to get all that Thoroughbreds actually offers. It is truly a brilliant movie in so many ways. The leading characters are so wonderfully flawed and real. They’ll both feel very familiar and make you cringe quite a bit.

The most refreshing thing is the fact that these two characters couldn’t be more different. They form a friendship of sorts out of boredom almost. And then everything goes wrong from that point on.

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The horror is female

Anya Taylor-Joy and Olivia Cooke are still just at the beginning of their careers. Still, it feels like we’ve already seen them in lots of projects which makes them feel very familiar.

In many ways, the biggest surprise for me was Oliva Cooke. And I mean that in the best way possible. I adored Olivia Cooke in Bates Motel and, of course, she’s no stranger to horror movies having starred in Ouija and The Quiet Ones.

However, in Thoroughbreds, she finally gets to use her talents in a really good movie with a brilliant character, Amanda. And damn, if she doesn’t make the most of it and shows everyone that she can handle all it entails. To me, Amanda (Olivia Cooke) was the most intriguing and scene-stealing.

And since I’ve always adored Anya Taylor-Joy as well, this speaks volumes. Her character, Lily, has so many layers and depths as well, so it’s not that one is better (or worse, as the case is) than the other. I just felt I knew what Anya Taylor-Joy could do in feature films and now I witnessed Olivia Cooke clearly match her talent.

If you’re still not sure who Anya Taylor-Joy is then she has the leading role in both The Witch and Morgan. Also, she was the leading female star to go up against the multi-character portraying James McAvoy in M. Night Shyamalan’s Split.

Thoroughbreds – Thriller Review

Breathtaking debut from Cory Finley

It’s almost impossible to understand that Thoroughbreds is a debut for writer-director, Cory Finley. Not just a feature film debut, but his overall debut of anything on film.

I was fortunate enough to catch a screening of Thoroughbreds at AFI Fest this past November. After the screening, Cory Finley was there for a Q&A session. He was greeted by a very impressed and happy audience, who had just witnessed his feature film debut as both writer and director.

Cory Finley was completely laid back and happy to share his process of coming up with the story. Lots of different input had created the two female characters – including strange news he had come across in a newspaper. After the characters had started forming, the story had followed and the result is Thoroughbreds.

It’s difficult to explain why the movie is such a rush to watch, but much of the answer lies with the characters. Not just the brilliant performances by the two actors – though, of course, those are paramount to bringing the characters to the screen. The characters are just to fleshed out in very simple ways that you don’t even want to blink in case you miss a new detail.

AFI Thoroughbreds Cory Finley

The always magnificent Anton Yelchin

Of course, there are other characters in this movie apart from Lily (Anya Taylor-Joy) and Amanda (Olivia Cooke). And everyone in this movie are brilliant, but I have to give special mention to Anton Yelchin. This was one of the final movies he worked on before his terribly untimely death – the movie also features a dedication to him.

As always, Anton Yelchin (Green Room) is brilliant. He delivers a lot of humor to the story and is a key to the unfolding of the story. He plays perfectly across from the two young women, who have the pleasure of making him squirm quite a lot.

Basically, Anton Yelchin’s character of “Tim” is a complete loser who firmly believes he’s on track to success. I can’t imagine anyone else making the character so strangely likable, but Yelchin hits all marks perfectly.

Writer and director of Thoroughbreds, Cory Finley, previously worked as a playwright so he’s not exactly new to creating characters or stories. If he was, I would be even more shocked that he could pull off this movie as a debut.

Still, I really hope Cory Finley will continue making movies after this impressive beginning. Though it must be a daunting task to follow up a movie like Thoroughbreds.

Maybe he should just get Olivia Cooke and Anya Taylor-Joy to sign on for the next one as well. It certainly was a match made in movie heaven for Thoroughbreds.

The movie premiered at Sundance Film Festival in January 2017 and is still playing at festivals in the US and UK.

Thoroughbreds will be out in theaters in both the US and UK on March 9, 2018.

Thoroughbreds – Thriller Review


Director: Cory Finley
Cast: Anya Taylor-Joy, Olivia Cooke, Anton Yelchin, Paul Sparks


Two upper-class teenage girls in suburban Connecticut rekindle their unlikely friendship after years of growing apart. Together, they hatch a plan to solve both of their problems-no matter what the cost.

I write reviews and recaps on Heaven of Horror. And yes, it does happen that I find myself screaming, when watching a good horror movie. I love psychological horror, survival horror and kick-ass women. Also, I have a huge soft spot for a good horror-comedy. Oh yeah, and I absolutely HATE when animals are harmed in movies, so I will immediately think less of any movie, where animals are harmed for entertainment (even if the animals are just really good actors). Fortunately, horror doesn't use this nearly as much as comedy. And people assume horror lovers are the messed up ones. Go figure!
Karina "ScreamQueen" Adelgaard
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