“Thoroughbreds” explores what humans are truly capable of

Photo courtesy of Focus Features
“Thoroughbreds” was released in American theaters on March 9 and received mostly positive reviews.

Hope Schreiner

Receiving high praise from critics, “Thoroughbreds” is a 90-minute roller coaster ride through the complicated psyches of two wicked, used-to-be friends, Amanda and Lily. While it isn’t a gory suspense thriller, this film is definitely not for the faint of heart.

The opening scene demonstrates a technique that is used throughout the rest of the film, which is talking around the issue and using vague or cautious language rather than being overtly direct. Lily and Amanda use this technique rather than being genuine and honest with each other. This creates a distance from the audience and gives the lingering feeling that something isn’t quite right.

Sound is used in a uniquely extraordinary way in this film. Little ambient noises are elevated such as breathing, water drips and shuffling of bodies. We are also often told things through sound rather than image, which creates an eerie and unpredictable tone. The camera will focus on a stationary image while the action can be heard taking place off screen. The film is as much about what we see on camera as what we don’t. Having the major plot points occur off-screen means that perhaps they aren’t the heart of the story after all.

Along with that, the film mostly consists of long sweeping shots in which we see the entire movement of the scene. Very few cuts were made and there aren’t any drastic time skips. This enables the audience to feel the tension and sometimes awkwardness that Lily and Amanda feel throughout. It also helps string along the mysterious vibe that is established in the beginning.

Lily and Amanda have the most unique relationship in the film. While on the surface it seems like they mutually understand each other, deep down, they don’t really understand each other at all because they don’t truly know each other. Amanda doesn’t understand feelings very well and Lily doesn’t know how to empathize. However, they are brutally honest with one another, exposing each other’s flaws and saying things that only true friends would be confident enough to admit.

This film is split up into four chapters, each one revealing a different step of their master plan. This segmentation feels a bit choppy and unnatural at times, but it also accurately reflects how these two teenage girls would have felt when discussing their plan. After all, they are mere teenagers attempting to accomplish something most often done by adults.

The tension in this film is done immensely well. The audience is given just enough information at one time to form a multitude of questions that are answered by the film’s conclusion. Each character brings the precise amount of creepy to the table, and rather than bombarding our ears with pop music, ambient noises are sprinkled throughout to enhance the unsettling tone.

“Thoroughbreds” is an intense psychological puzzle that will leave audiences questioning the human mind and its full range of capabilities. With bold characters and twisted humor, this film will easily go down as one of the most fascinating explorations of human nature the industry has seen in quite some time.