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The Killing of a Sacred Deer

The Killing of a Sacred Deer: More Enticingly Enigmatic Work from the Man Behind ‘The Lobster’

  • Alicia SilverstoneColin Farrell...
  • DramaHorror...
  • Yorgos Lanthimos
reviewed by
Marija Djurovic
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The Killing of a Sacred Deer: More Enticingly Enigmatic Work from the Man Behind ‘The Lobster’

Unnerving and challenging on many levels, the latest offering from Greek writer-director, Yargos Lanthimos is definitely not an easy film to embrace. Following his work in  2010’s Oscar-nominated Dogtooth and 2016’s The Lobster, Lanthimos once again dives deep into a sea of elusiveness and obscurity with a story that leaves a lot of questions unanswered. And while definitely an acquired taste, there is still something beautifully unsettling hiding behind the film’s deadpan façade.

The Lobster star, Colin Farrell, plays Steven Murphy; a hardworking surgeon who shares his life with wife, Anna (Kidman), and their two children; teenage daughter, Kim (Cassidy), and young son, Bob (Suljic). Steven also spends his time with a sixteen-year-old boy named Martin (Keoghan); the exact nature of their relationship is not clear, but as we watch the seemingly troubled teen accepting gifts from a man to whom he looks up to as a father figure, it’s obvious that there is a deep connection between the two.

Things take a weird turn when Bob is suddenly stricken with paralysis, finding himself waking up one morning unable to walk. Shocked and baffled by their son’s sudden immobility, both Steven and Anna, along with a team of medical experts, try to do everything they can to get to the bottom of the problem, but to no avail. Meanwhile, Martin begins to stalk Steven at work and even finds ways to force himself into his family and home, creating a special bond with Kim in the process.

Delivering a story like nothing you’ve seen before, the less said about the plot, the better. Known for his unusual ways and seemingly bold cinematic style, Lanthimos doesn’t focus on the details of the plot, nor does he ever provide the audience with any logical or plausible answers to the proceedings. The mystery behind Bob’s sudden immobility and what soon follows is left unsolved, so if you were looking for a more straightforward approach to the supernatural aspect of the story, you will be sorely disappointed with the outcome.

Superbly elevated by the cold matter-of-factness delivery of the dialogue, the picture is bathed in a sterile eeriness and Lanthimos is able to bring a heavy dose of creepiness as a result, emphasising the story’s detachment from everything that is considered ‘normal’ to great effect.

Farrell and Kidman make an excellent choice for a couple who have fallen victims to something that no one can explain. Their marital dynamic is interesting, with their ‘general anaesthesia’ sex-play adding an extra dose of murkiness to proceedings. The kids are also equally effective, however, it’s Keoghan’s jittery and deliciously unnerving performance – reminiscent of Heath Ledger’s take on the Joker – that manages to draw most of the attention.

However, although definitely unique, The Killing of a Sacred Deer can be painfully challenging to sit through; it’s slow and almost too abstract at times to comprehend, leaving audiences questioning the film’s purpose and what the director was trying to say.

Like This? Try

Dogtooth (2009), Alps (2011), The Lobster (2015)

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Colin Farrell has said that he 'felt nauseous' after reading the script.

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