Stars: Anya-Taylor Joy, Olivia Cooke, Anton Yelchin, Paul Sparks
The feature film debut of playwright Finley is an archly amusing modern teen noir, redolent of late eighties classic Heathers. It begins with the oddball emotionally blank Amanda (Cooke) visiting the ornate Connecticut mansion where her estranged friend, the seemingly prim Lily (Taylor-Joy) lives with her mum and overbearing, brash step-father Paul (Sparks). Amanda has been an outcast in their school after she took it upon herself to put the family horse down. Such is her toxic reputation that Lily’s mum had to be paid to allow her daughter to spend time with Amanda. A combative conversation ensues between the two, but when Amanda suggests bumping off Lily’s hated stepdad, Lily tentatively agrees. Amanda enlists a small-time hapless drug dealer (Yelchin) to help carry out the murder. This marks an accomplished, if overly mannered, debut from Finley, his playwright pedigree evidenced with the memorably pithy toing and froing dialogue, and he elicits splendid performances from his young leads, including a poignant turn from the late Yelchin as a low life way out of his depth. A palpable sense of unease is conjured up by the prowling camerawork and atmospheric sound design, with wicked stepdad Paul’s constant nagging presence evoked via the chugging of an upstairs rowing machine.