Thoroughbreds (2017 film)

Last updated

Thoroughbreds (2017 film).png
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Cory Finley
Produced by
Written byCory Finley
Music by Erik Friedlander
CinematographyLyle Vincent
Edited byLouise Ford
Distributed by Focus Features
Release date
  • January 21, 2017 (2017-01-21)(Sundance)
  • March 9, 2018 (2018-03-09)(United States)
Running time
92 minutes [1]
CountryUnited States
Budget$5 million [2]
Box office$3 million [3]

Thoroughbreds is a 2017 American dark comedy thriller film [4] written and directed by Cory Finley, in his directorial debut. It stars Olivia Cooke, Anya Taylor-Joy, Anton Yelchin, Paul Sparks, and Francie Swift. The film had its world premiere under its original title Thoroughbred at the Sundance Film Festival on January 21, 2017, and was released on March 9, 2018, by Focus Features. It is the last U.S. theatrical release to star Yelchin, who died in June 2016.


Thoroughbreds follows high-school student Lily (Taylor-Joy) and her emotionless friend Amanda (Cooke) as they scheme to kill Lily's stepfather (Sparks) via a contract with a drug dealer (Yelchin). The film grossed $3 million against a "mid-seven-figure budget" [2] and received positive reviews from critics, who praised the ambitious direction, screenplay, and performances, particularly from Cooke and Taylor-Joy. [5]


In suburban Connecticut, upper-class high schooler Amanda euthanizes her crippled horse with a knife, resulting in charges of animal cruelty.

Sometime later, Amanda arrives at the home of the more popular and academically inclined Lily. The girls were previously best friends but grew apart after the death of Lily's father. They meet under the pretense of hanging out and having a casual tutoring session, but Amanda knows that her mother has paid Lily to socialize with Amanda. Lily denies being paid, but Amanda, left emotionless by an unspecified mental disorder, is unfazed. Lily meets with Amanda again, this time voluntarily, and they rekindle their friendship.

Lily lives with her mother, Cynthia, and stepfather, Mark, who she hates. One night, Amanda asks if Lily has ever thought about killing Mark, upsetting Lily. However, tensions flare between Lily and Mark when Mark enrolls Lily in a boarding school for girls with behavioral issues. After seeing him berate Cynthia, Lily reconsiders and calls Amanda about the notion of killing him. She proposes that Amanda perform the murder as Amanda would not experience guilt. However, Amanda believes that her pending animal-cruelty trial would make her an immediate suspect. They decide instead to blackmail drug dealer Tim into murdering Mark while the two girls are out of town. The night of the planned murder, Tim arrives on the property but leaves without killing Mark. The girls agree not to contact Tim again, as his own criminal history will prevent him from alerting the police. Lily impulsively prepares to kill Mark herself but is talked out of it by Amanda.

One night, Lily and Amanda are watching a film at Lily's home when Lily reveals she spiked Amanda's drink with Rohypnol so she could stab Mark to death and frame Amanda. Lily attempts to back out of the plan, but Amanda, realizing a life spent without emotions is "meaningless," willingly finishes the drink. While Amanda is unconscious, Lily murders Mark and rubs Amanda with his blood, crying and holding the unconscious Amanda for comfort.

Sometime later, Lily encounters Tim, who now works as a restaurant valet. Following Mark's death, Lily has once again found academic success and is interviewing for college admission. They talk about the murder (though Lily lies about what really happened), and Lily mentions having received a letter from Amanda, who has been committed to a psychiatric hospital for the crime. The letter is shown to detail Amanda's life at the hospital, including a recurring dream about a future in which humans let the world fall into disarray due to their vanity, leading to it being overrun by thoroughbred horses. When Tim asks what the letter said, Lily says she threw the letter away without reading it.



The script, which Finley had expected to be produced as a stage play, was instead acquired for production as a film by companies B Story (Nat Faxon, Jim Rash, and Kevin J. Walsh) and June Pictures. [6] [7]

In April 2016, Olivia Cooke, Anya Taylor-Joy and Anton Yelchin were announced to have joined the cast. Finley would direct the film. [6] [8]


Principal photography began on May 9, 2016, [9] in the Massachusetts towns of Cohasset, Tewksbury, Scituate, Westwood, and Wellesley, [10] concluding on June 5, 2016, 14 days before Yelchin died. [11] Finley said of his experience with Yelchin: "The whole experience was really amazing. As soon as he came on board, we had a great dinner, where we talked about film noir as a genre. He was very keyed into that aspect of this movie, he loved film noir. I felt really, like I knew nothing about movies, talking to him. He was also the sweetest guy, he would never make you feel less-than for not knowing these things. He was just delightful and funny from the beginning, he was awesome throughout and brought a jolt of energy." [12]


The film had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival on January 21, 2017, under the name Thoroughbred. [13] Shortly after, Focus Features acquired distribution rights to the film, [13] retitling it Thoroughbreds later in the year. [14] It was released in the United States on March 9, 2018. [15]

Critical reception

On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 86% based on 162 reviews, with an average rating of 7.23/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Thoroughbreds juggles genres with panache, delivering a well-written and refreshingly unpredictable entry in the teen thriller genre." [16] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 75 out of 100, based on 37 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews". [17]

Related Research Articles

Riley Keough American model and actress

Danielle Riley Keough is an American actress, model, and producer, known primarily for her appearances in independent films. Additionally, she has been noted as a scream queen for her performances in numerous horror films. Born in Santa Monica, California to musicians Lisa Marie Presley and Danny Keough, she is the eldest grandchild of Elvis and Priscilla Presley. Keough was raised primarily by her father in Hawaii and Los Angeles, and additionally spent time residing with her mother in California and Tennessee. At age 15, she began modeling, including appearances at fashion shows for Dolce & Gabbana and Christian Dior, as well as appearing on the cover of Vogue.

Anton Yelchin American film and television actor

Anton Viktorovich Yelchin was a Russian-American actor. He played Pavel Chekov in three Star Trek films: Star Trek (2009), Star Trek Into Darkness (2013), and the posthumously released Star Trek Beyond (2016) and voiced Clumsy Smurf in the Smurfs films. Born to a Russian Jewish family in Leningrad, Yelchin and his family moved to the United States when he was a baby. In the late 1990s, Yelchin began appearing in television and film roles. His role in Steven Spielberg's miniseries Taken helped further his career. Yelchin also starred in Huff, the films Fright Night, Hearts in Atlantis, Alpha Dog, Like Crazy, Green Room, and the posthumously released Trollhunters.

A. Scott Frank is an American screenwriter, film director, and author. He received two Oscar nominations for Best Adapted Screenplay for Out of Sight (1998) and Logan (2017).

Harry Treadaway English actor

Harry John Newman Treadaway is an English actor known for his performances as Victor Frankenstein on the horror-drama series Penny Dreadful and Brady Hartsfield on Audience's Mr. Mercedes.

<i>Masquerade</i> (1988 film)

Masquerade is a 1988 American romantic mystery thriller film directed by Bob Swaim and starring Rob Lowe, Meg Tilly, Kim Cattrall and Doug Savant. Written by Dick Wolf, the film is about a recently orphaned millionairess who falls in love with a young yacht racing captain who isn't completely truthful with her about his past. The film was nominated for the Edgar Allan Poe Award for Best (Mystery) Motion Picture in 1989.

Johnny Flynn (musician) English musician and actor

John Patrick Vivian Flynn is an English musician, singer, songwriter and actor.

<i>Odd Thomas</i> (film)

Odd Thomas is a 2013 American supernatural mystery thriller film based on Dean Koontz's 2003 novel of the same name. It is directed, written, and co-produced by Stephen Sommers and stars Anton Yelchin as Odd Thomas, with Willem Dafoe as Wyatt Porter, and Addison Timlin as Stormy Llewellyn.

Olivia Cooke English actress

Olivia Kate Cooke is an English actress. She is known for her starring role as Emma Decody in the A&E drama thriller series Bates Motel (2013–2017) and as Becky Sharp in the period drama miniseries Vanity Fair (2018).

<i>Green Room</i> (film) 2015 film by Jeremy Saulnier

Green Room is a 2015 American horror-thriller film written and directed by Jeremy Saulnier, and produced by Neil Kopp, Victor Moyers and Anish Savjani. Starring Anton Yelchin, Joe Cole, Imogen Poots and Patrick Stewart, the film focuses on a punk band who find themselves attacked by neo-Nazi skinheads after witnessing a murder at a remote club in the Pacific Northwest. The film came from Saulnier's desire to direct a thriller set in a green room.

<i>We Dont Belong Here</i> (film)

We Don't Belong Here, previously entitled The Greens Are Gone, is an American drama film written and directed by Peer Pedersen. The film stars Catherine Keener, Kaitlyn Dever, Anton Yelchin, Riley Keough, Annie Starke, Cary Elwes and Maya Rudolph. The film was released on April 4, 2017, by Sony Pictures Entertainment.

Anya Taylor-Joy English actress

Anya Josephine Marie Taylor-Joy is an American-Argentine-British actress. She first became known for making appearances on the fantasy series Atlantis (2015), and had her breakthrough with the period horror film The Witch (2015), for which she earned several accolades. She gained further recognition and praise for her role as Casey Cooke in the psychological horror films Split (2016) and Glass (2019), Lily Reynolds in the black comedy Thoroughbreds (2017) and Emma Woodhouse in the comedy-drama Emma (2020).

Jeremy Saulnier

Jeremy Saulnier is an American film director, cinematographer and screenwriter.

<i>Mr. Mercedes</i> (TV series) 2017 American crime drama television series

Mr. Mercedes is an American crime drama television series based on the Bill Hodges novel trilogy by Stephen King, which consists of Mr. Mercedes, Finders Keepers, and End of Watch. The series premiered on Audience on August 9, 2017. It was developed by David E. Kelley and stars Brendan Gleeson and Harry Treadaway. In November 2018, it was announced that Audience had renewed the series for a ten-episode third season, which premiered on September 10, 2019. In May 2020, Audience was discontinued, with no indication of whether the show had been officially canceled or that it would return for a fourth season. Its existing three seasons were later picked up in September 2020 by streaming service Peacock.

A Man Is Mostly Water is 2000 American comedy film written by, directed by and starring Fred Parnes. It was Anton Yelchin's film debut.

<i>Deep State</i> (TV series)

Deep State is a British television espionage thriller series, written and created by Matthew Parkhill and Simon Maxwell, first broadcast in the United Kingdom on Fox on 5 April 2018. The first eight-part series, which began filming in May 2017, stars Mark Strong as Max Easton, a former Field Agent for MI6 who is recruited back into the field. The series co-starred Joe Dempsie, Karima McAdams, Lyne Renée, Anastasia Griffith and Alistair Petrie.

June Pictures was an American independent entertainment production company founded by Alex Saks and Andrew Duncan, and based in Los Angeles, California. It specializes in film production, and film finance.

<i>Love, Antosha</i>

Love, Antosha is a 2019 American documentary film directed and produced by Garret Price, focusing on the life and career of the late actor Anton Yelchin. The film premiered in the Doc Premieres category at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival on January 28, 2019. The film was released by Lurker Productions in New York and Los Angeles in August 2019.

The Picture Company is an entertainment company founded in 2014, by Andrew Rona and Alex Heineman. It specializes in film, starting off moderately in 2018 with Jaume Collet-Serra's The Commuter and Albert Hughes' Alpha.

Naked Singularity is an upcoming American drama film, directed by Chase Palmer in his directorial debut, from a screenplay by Palmer and David Matthews. It is based upon the 2008 novel of the same name by Sergio De La Pava. It stars John Boyega, Olivia Cooke, Bill Skarsgård, Ed Skrein, Linda Lavin and Tim Blake Nelson.


  1. "THOROUGHBREDS (15)". British Board of Film Classification . Archived from the original on April 1, 2018. Retrieved April 1, 2018.
  2. 1 2 Debruge, Peter (March 8, 2018). "Film Review: 'Thoroughbreds'". Variety . Archived from the original on June 15, 2018. Retrieved July 18, 2018. ...yielding a film that presents an image far richer than its mid-seven-figure budget might suggest.
  3. "Thoroughbreds". Box Office Mojo . Archived from the original on June 12, 2018. Retrieved June 4, 2018.
  4. Stephens, David (November 30, 2017). "Thoroughbreds Trailer Promises a 'Razor-Witted' Dark Comedy". Screen Rant . Archived from the original on March 12, 2018. Retrieved March 11, 2018.
  5. 1 2 Fleming, Mike Jr. (April 27, 2016). "Olivia Cooke, Anya Taylor-Joy & Anton Yelchin Set For Thriller 'Thoroughbred'". Deadline Hollywood . Archived from the original on November 30, 2016. Retrieved December 15, 2016.
  6. Ehrlich, David (March 8, 2018). "'Thoroughbreds': How a 28-Year-Old Playwright Who Had Never Been on a Film Set Directed the Best Debut of the Year". IndieWire . Archived from the original on May 26, 2018. Retrieved May 25, 2018.
  7. McNary, Dave (April 28, 2016). "Olivia Cooke, Anya Taylor-Joy to Star in Thriller 'Thoroughbred'". Variety. Archived from the original on December 20, 2016. Retrieved December 15, 2016.
  8. "On the Set for 5/13/16: Paul Rudd Starts Rolling on 'An Ideal Home', Gal Gadot Wraps Shooting on 'Wonder Woman'". SSN Insider. May 13, 2016. Archived from the original on April 29, 2017. Retrieved December 15, 2016.
  9. Sweeney, Emily (June 20, 2016). "Anton Yelchin was recently in Mass. filming 'Thoroughbred'". Boston Globe . Archived from the original on June 21, 2016. Retrieved June 10, 2018.
  10. Taylor-Joy, Anya (June 5, 2016). "🐎THATS [sic] A WRAP🐎 #Thoroughbred". Archived from the original on March 23, 2017. Retrieved December 15, 2016 via Instagram.
  11. Stevens, Tyler (March 9, 2018). "Q&A: 'Thoroughbreds' Director Cory Finley". Washington Square News . Archived from the original on May 25, 2018. Retrieved May 25, 2018.
  12. 1 2 Fleming, Mike Jr. (January 22, 2017). "Focus Features Mounts 'Thoroughbred' For $5M: Sundance". Deadline Hollywood . Archived from the original on January 23, 2017. Retrieved January 23, 2017.
  13. "Programme changes". BFI London Film Festival . September 11, 2017. Retrieved September 13, 2017.
  14. "The Thoroughbreds Teaser Poster and Photos!". . October 6, 2017. Archived from the original on October 7, 2017. Retrieved October 6, 2017.
  15. "Thoroughbreds (2018)". Rotten Tomatoes . Fandango Media. Archived from the original on April 3, 2019. Retrieved May 20, 2019.
  16. "Thoroughbreds Reviews". Metacritic. Archived from the original on October 2, 2018. Retrieved January 23, 2019.