The Killing of a Sacred Deer is a psychological horror film directed by Yorgos Lanthimos, from a screenplay by Lanthimos and Efthymis Filippou. It stars Colin Farrell, Nicole Kidman, Barry Keoghan, Raffey Cassidy, Sunny Suljic, Alicia Silverstone, and Bill Camp.
The Story/The Direction:
The story is based on the ancient Greek play Iphigenia at Aulis by Euripides and follows a cardiac surgeon, Dr. Steven Murphy, (Farrell) who for reasons unknown befriends a teenage boy, Martin (Keoghan). After introducing the boy to his wife (Kidman) and their family, everyone aside from Steven falls mysteriously ill. Their legs stop working when they stop eating and there's no reason for it. What is behind it all is spoiler territory but know that Stephen's family is not as perfect as they think they are. Both Lanthimos's direction and writing are brilliant here to create a very tense and suspenseful story. Being a story based on a Greek play, it may be thought that the story may be predictable however this is not the case. There is a lot of risks taken by Lanthimos to add his own touch to the modernized story. He and cinematographer, Thimios Bakatakis, are able to create some really creepy and suspenseful moments like those in Stanley Kubrick's The Shining. Everything about this film on a technical basis is brilliant from the score to the sets to the editing. This film is one of the most visually striking films this year and draws inspiration from horror films such as Roman Polanski's Rosemary's Baby. Lanthimos is able to give you characters to care about, twist what you think of them, and give you something fairly substantial and satisfying at the end.
The cast here is great from Kidman to Cassidy to Suljic but the standouts are Farrell and Keoghan. Keoghan is able to take this subtle yet eerie character and make it his own. His sole appearance on the screen brings a creepiness similar to that of Damien in The Omen. To do this in a horror film is a great achievement and this film could be his breakout film. As his career continues, he will hopefully be able to split from this amazing creepiness that he adds to this film that won't always work for films. This film is the second team-up between Farrell and Lanthimos and they know how to make the other look good. They previously worked together on the film, The Lobster. He is absolutely phenomenal here and while he has had some great performances throughout his career, this is at the top of it. If you did not see him on their first team up, this film will ensure that you see the next one.
This film, unfortunately, does meander in the second half the film, however, this film is most engaging. In addition, different viewers will have vastly different experiences than the next person. One person could be scared, the next depressed, the next amused, and another appalled. This, unfortunately, does make the film seem unsure of what it is trying to do. While this vastness between viewers can be argued as the point of a film but if a viewer cannot choose exactly what they want to feel after a film, it can affect the viewing of the film in a negative way.
This film is an amazing and absolutely haunting film. It may not be for everyone but neither is Rosemary's Baby or The Omen but those films are still regarded as some of the most horrific films to be created. While not as good as those, this film will only improve as viewings increase and it is on the same level as this year's It Comes at Night. It could possibly gain a Best Director for Lanthiomos and Best Original Screenplay. As this film is no longer in theatres, it cannot be recommended to be watched in theatres but if it was, it would be. Now, it's definitely worth watching a few times on Blu-ray or VOD.
Rating: 4.5/5.0 bowties
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