SPOILER FREE REVIEW:
From the opening scene to the final shot, Thoroughbreds is consistently off putting like yogurt you eat one day too late. Something isn’t right with these characters, any of them, who propel the plot forward with their antics. Scenes as mundane as a long walk in a hallway or a friend tutoring another friend become moments of high tension, not because there’s a killer on the loose, but because there isn’t. Suspense is not created through jump scares or off-screen suggestions, but by the slow way viewers have to watch these characters perform this strange and agonizing dance. This effect, though it is in part the brilliant actors, is largely the music and how the scenes are shot. We watch these scenes unfold like madmen, we are unable to step outside of the teenagers’ twisted vision. There is no avenue out of the insanity.
Though certainly not for everyone, the film is a refreshing, if uncomfortable, take on teenage amorality. If you are at all interested in watching two girls crawl across suburbia’s secrets to the spilling of blood, then this is a movie you should watch.
There are two protagonists in this movie, Lily, the rich girl with a wicked stepfather, and Amanda, a “creepy” teenager who “feels nothing.” In contrast to the stoicness of Amanda, Lily is shown to be an emotional creature–she cries, gets angry, and panics almost every step of the way. Early on, it is revealed that Amanda is reviled in their suburb because she killed her own horse–but, later, when Amanda tells that story, she says she did it because the horse was injured and unable to walk, that though the deed was bloody, it was done out of mercy and necessity. It was, in other words, a moral decision. This is the approach Amanda takes to the murder of the stepdad: not something they should do because Lily hates him, but because it is “right.” For her cold and blunt attitude, and near-psychopathic levels of manipulation, Amanda is still a moral creature, perhaps not in spite of, but because of, her inability to feel. And at the end of the movie, it is Lily who murders her stepfather and frames Amanda for the crime (with Amanda’s permission because Lily convinces Amanda her life is not worth living–though she initially plotted to do it without telling Amanda). After committing this deed, Lily is shown sobbing in Amanda’s lap; although she cries (for either the murder or the betrayal she just committed–it is unclear) she still goes through with it, still betrays the friends who was just shown to have been willing to sacrifice her freedom for Lily. It is Amanda, numb to the world, who emerges at the end of this film as a martyr, and Lily, feeling every slight, who becomes the Judas.
Part of the reason this film has left many feeling uncomfortable is because it is partially an attack on emotions and a defense of traits we usually consider psychopathic. Our understanding of what makes us good or bad is being challenged and we should consider the points Thoroughbreds raises.
The movie will continue to play at the State Theatre. Student tickets are $8.