New ‘Thoroughbreds’ Trailer is a Sociopathic Calm in a Sea of Turmoil

A Tribe Called Red’s song SILA, featuring Tanya Tagaq, is a perfect emotional fit for the underlying tensions in Thoroughbreds.
By  · Published on February 26th, 2018

A Tribe Called Red’s song SILA, featuring Tanya Tagaq, is a perfect emotional fit for the underlying tensions in Thoroughbreds.

The needle drop on the new Thoroughbreds trailer chopped into this 50-second staccato presentation has the distinct feel of standing in the center of a hurricane. The characters are calm and direct, but there is a whirlwind of energy flying around them which promises destruction to anyone that brushes against it.

Film School Rejects chief critic caught Thoroughbreds at Sundance last year and gave it a super positive review. The line from Rob Hunter’s review that gave me a hint that this movie is going to appeal to my tastes was that “sociopaths just want to have fun. But they can’t… they’re sociopaths.” Tell me this trailer doesn’t have that in spades.

The trailer samples a song from A Tribe Called Red’s album We Are The Halluci Nation. It’s called SILA and features Tanya Tagaq’s intense throat singing. It’s electronic hip-hop. The beat is always fast. Their song builds from a quiet intensity to a complexly layered, super loud radical crescendo. I’ve got it on loop right now. And I want to do… something. Dance. Fight. Anything. So long as I. Just. Take. Action.

Ian Campeau, one-third of A Tribe Called Red, shares the idea for the track in an interview with Vice’s Noisey. Sila is the Inuk word for “air” or “atmosphere.” It means the stuff is going on around you. Well, it can mean a variety of things. The way they use it for the track title, it’s meant to be what you’re breathing in. Sila is what you are moving in. It is what surrounds you. So, while sila may be around you, it isn’t necessarily You.

The loud, boisterous music in the trailer makes you want to groove along. Still, the story setting seems sad. An unloving, verbally abusive step-father. The daughter that doesn’t know what to do in the face of it all. A friend who doesn’t feel anything. All wrapped up with the unrelenting, self-serving apathy of the super-rich and the socially disaffected kids they seem to produce. The unspoken rage at it all is deafening.

The emotional energy of the song connects with the vibe of the movie.

In the trailer, Olivia Cooke’s quiet sociopath of a character Amanda proclaims that the only thing worse than being incompetent or evil is being indecisive. Given the type of movie Thoroughbreds appears to be, and what people seem to dig in it, the song sample is an inspired choice.

Thoroughbreds has a turbulent setting. Its characters seem to be operating in a moral-free vacuum, somewhat untethered to the gravity of their intentions. However, when they brush the sides of reality and the impact of their decision-making, they feel the scope of their actions. You can see Anton Yelchin’s Tim crying in a bathtub, lamenting what his dad will think about all this.

In a series of Hemingway-esque sentences swimming in a sea of high-intensity electronic music, you’ve got the plot and the feel of the movie rolled up into a tight presentation. The plot description roles out in the trailer in simple sentences, spoken directly to the point. Ana Taylor-Joy’s Lily hates her dirtbag stepfather. Her friend Amanda is a sociopath. The clear, morally unburdened solution of a sociopath? Kill him. Blackmail participants. And above all else, do something. Sitting around and feeling emotions is such a waste of time.

The casting is on point for the film. Ana Taylor Joy’s previous starring role in Robert Egger’s The Witch featured another character caught up in a messed up family environment with, uh, radical solutions for bettering her position. Anton Yelchin was one of our finest working actors and a clear fit for this film.

Watch the trailer. If you don’t come out of it feeling something, you might be a sociopath. Either way, see the movie. It releases March 09.

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Writer for Film School Rejects. He currently lives in Virginia, where he is very proud of his three kids, wife, and projector. Co-Dork on the In The Mouth of Dorkness podcast.