Thoroughbreds (2017 film)

Last updated

Thoroughbreds (2017 film).png
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Cory Finley
Written byCory Finley
Produced by
CinematographyLyle Vincent
Edited byLouise Ford
Music by Erik Friedlander
Distributed by Focus Features
Release dates
  • 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] [3]
Box office$3.2 million [4]

Thoroughbreds is a 2017 American black comedy thriller film written and directed by Cory Finley in his directorial debut. It follows high school student Lily (Anya Taylor-Joy) and her emotionless friend Amanda (Olivia Cooke) as they scheme to kill Lily's stepfather (Paul Sparks) via a contract with a drug dealer (Anton Yelchin); Francie Swift also stars, as Lily's mother.


Thoroughbreds was filmed in mid-2016. Two weeks after production wrapped, Yelchin died in an accident. The film premiered as Thoroughbred at the Sundance Film Festival on January 21, 2017. Over a year later, on March 9, 2018, it received a wide release by Focus Features. It is the last U.S. film to star Yelchin, and is dedicated to him.

The film received positive reviews from critics, who praised the ambitious direction, screenplay, and performances, particularly from Cooke and Taylor-Joy. It grossed $3 million against a $5 million production budget.


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, who says that she does not experience emotions due to 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, whom 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 (who had previously been in jail for statutory rape) into murdering Mark while the two girls are out of town. On the night of the planned murder, Tim arrives at 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 her drink. While Amanda falls unconscious, Lily murders Mark and smears Amanda with his blood, crying and holding her 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. Amanda smiles at a photo of her and Lily together, riding horses. When Tim asks what the letter said, Lily says she threw it away without reading it.


Olivia Cooke and Anya Taylor-Joy in an interview for Thoroughbreds Olivia Cooke Anya Taylor-Joy Thoroughbreds Interview4 (cropped).png
Olivia Cooke and Anya Taylor-Joy in an interview for Thoroughbreds


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. [5] [6]

In April 2016, Olivia Cooke, Anya Taylor-Joy and Anton Yelchin were announced to have joined the cast. Finley would direct the film. [5] [7]


Principal photography began on May 9, 2016, [8] in the Massachusetts towns of Cohasset, Tewksbury, Scituate, Westwood, and Wellesley, [9] concluding on June 5, 2016, 14 days before Yelchin died. [10] 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." [11]


The film had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival on January 21, 2017, under the name Thoroughbred. [12] Shortly after, Focus Features acquired distribution rights to the film, [12] retitling it Thoroughbreds later in the year. [13] It was released in the United States on March 9, 2018. [14]


On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 87% based on 167 reviews, with an average rating of 7.3/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Thoroughbreds juggles genres with panache, delivering a well-written and refreshingly unpredictable entry in the teen thriller genre." [15] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 75 out of 100, based on 37 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews". [16]

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Riley Keough</span> American actress (born 1989)

Danielle Riley Keough is an American actress. She made her feature film debut in a supporting part in the musical biopic The Runaways (2010), portraying Marie Currie. Keough subsequently starred in the independent thriller The Good Doctor (2011), before being cast in a minor role in Steven Soderbergh's comedy film Magic Mike (2012). She had her first big-budget release in the action feature Mad Max: Fury Road (2015).

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Anton Yelchin</span> American actor (1989–2016)

Anton Viktorovich Yelchin was an American actor. Born in the Soviet Union to a Russian Jewish family, he immigrated to the United States with his parents at the age of 6 months. He began his career as a child actor, appearing as the lead of the mystery drama film Hearts in Atlantis (2001) and a series regular on the Showtime comedy-drama Huff (2004–2006). In 2006, he starred in Alpha Dog with Bruce Willis, Justin Timberlake, and Emile Hirsch. Yelchin landed higher-profile film roles in 2009, portraying Lieutenant Pavel Chekov in the Star Trek reboot and Kyle Reese in Terminator Salvation. He reprised his role as Chekov in the sequels Star Trek Into Darkness (2013) and Star Trek Beyond (2016).

<i>Alpha Dog</i> 2006 crime drama film by Nick Cassavetes

Alpha Dog is a 2006 American crime drama film written and directed by Nick Cassavetes. It is based on the true story of the kidnapping and murder of Nicholas Markowitz in 2000. The film features an ensemble cast that includes Ben Foster, Shawn Hatosy, Emile Hirsch, Christopher Marquette, Sharon Stone, Justin Timberlake, Anton Yelchin, and Bruce Willis.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Kristen Stewart</span> American actress (born 1990)

Kristen Jaymes Stewart is an American actress. She has received various accolades, including a British Academy Film Award and a César Award, in addition to nominations for an Academy Award and a Golden Globe Award.

The Boston Society of Film Critics Award for Best Cast is one of the annual film awards given by the Boston Society of Film Critics.

<i>Odd Thomas</i> (film) 2013 American mystery thriller film

Odd Thomas is a 2013 American 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.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Olivia Cooke</span> English actress (born 1993)

Olivia Kate Cooke is an English actress. In television, she has starred as Emma Decody in the thriller Bates Motel (2013–2017), Becky Sharp in the period drama Vanity Fair (2018), and Alicent Hightower in the fantasy drama House of the Dragon (2022–present).

<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, Imogen Poots, Alia Shawkat, Joe Cole, Callum Turner 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>Grandma</i> (2015 film) 2015 film by Paul Weitz

Grandma is a 2015 American comedy-drama film written, directed, and produced by Paul Weitz. It stars Lily Tomlin as Elle, a lesbian poet and widow whose teenage granddaughter visits her to ask for money for an abortion. Over the space of a day, they visit numerous people from Elle's past to call in favors in an effort to raise the money.

<i>We Dont Belong Here</i> (film) 2017 American film

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

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Robert Eggers</span> American film director and screenwriter

Robert Houston Eggers is an American filmmaker and production designer. He is best known for writing and directing the historical horror films The Witch (2015) and The Lighthouse (2019), as well as directing and co-writing the historical fiction epic film The Northman (2022). His films are noted for their folkloric and mythological elements, as well as his thorough efforts to ensure historical authenticity.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Anya Taylor-Joy</span> Actress (born 1996)

Anya-Josephine Marie Taylor-Joy is an actress. She has won several accolades, including a Golden Globe Award and a Screen Actors Guild Award, in addition to nominations for a BAFTA Film Award and a Primetime Emmy Award.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Kaili Vernoff</span> American actress (born 1974)

Kaili Vernoff is an American actress. While she has many television and film credits, she is perhaps best known for her multiple collaborations with Woody Allen.

<i>Assassination Nation</i> 2018 film by Sam Levinson

Assassination Nation is a 2018 American satirical black comedy thriller film written and directed by Sam Levinson. It stars an ensemble cast led by Odessa Young, Suki Waterhouse, Hari Nef, and Abra. The film takes place in the fictional town of Salem, which devolves into chaos and violence after a computer hacker discovers and leaks personal secrets about many of its residents.

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.

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

<i>Them That Follow</i> 2019 American film

Them That Follow is a 2019 American thriller film, written and directed by Britt Poulton and Dan Madison Savage. It stars Olivia Colman, Kaitlyn Dever, Alice Englert, Jim Gaffigan, Walton Goggins, Thomas Mann and Lewis Pullman.

<i>Love, Antosha</i> 2019 film by Garret Price

Love, Antosha is a 2019 American documentary film directed and produced by Garret Price, focusing on the life and career of 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.

Tango Entertainment is an American film production company founded in 2017 by Lia Buman and Tim Headington. The company is best known for producing films Little Woods (2018) The Old Man & the Gun (2018), Skate Kitchen (2019), Little Fish (2020), Never Rarely Sometimes Always (2020), Resurrection (2022), and Aftersun (2022).


  1. "Thoroughbreds (15)". British Board of Film Classification . Archived from the original on April 1, 2018. Retrieved April 1, 2018.
  2. "Thoroughbreds (2018) - Financial Information". The Numbers .
  3. 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.
  4. "Thoroughbreds". Box Office Mojo . Archived from the original on June 12, 2018. Retrieved June 4, 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. Dowd, A.A. (March 7, 2018). "Two teen girls forge a dark friendship in the tense, blackly comic Thoroughbreds". The A.V. Club . Retrieved November 13, 2022. When the film premiered at Sundance some 14 months ago, it went by just Thoroughbred, singular…
  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 . 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.