The Killing of a Sacred Deer

7.3 IMDb
22 May 2017 Release
Genres:Drama, Horror, Mystery
Countries:UK, Ireland, USA
12 Votes

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After the untimely death of 16-year-old Martin's father on the operating table, little by little, a deep and empathetic bond begins to form between him and the respected cardiothoracic surgeon, Dr Steven Murphy. At first, expensive gifts and then an invitation for dinner will soon earn the orphaned teenager the approval of Dr Steven's perfect family, even though right from the start, a vague, yet unnerving feeling overshadows Martin's honest intent. And then, unexpectedly, the idyllic family is smitten by a fierce and pitiless punishment, while at the same time, everything will start falling apart as the innocents have to suffer. In the end, as the sins of one burden the entire family, only an unimaginable and unendurable decision that demands a pure sacrifice can purge the soul. But to find catharsis, one must first admit the sin.

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Movie Comments

  1. sven-koehler, 3 weeks ago
    First things first: I loved The Lobster. The Lobster was a comedy, sort of, and when the characters spoke with a very monotone voice and said and did things that normal people wouldn't do, that added to the comedy and it was a pleasure to watch that movie.

    Now, this movie is "The Lobster 2" in the sense that people still speak with a very monotone voice and say things they normally wouldn't. For example, during small talk at some party, the mother just casually mentions that her daughter had her first period. The daughter herself mentions that to a boy she just met later on in the movie. That resulted in the audience laughing at the movie.

    This is not a comedy. It is also not a horror movie. This is a drama or thriller with strong religious undertones. It is a mixture between the Binding of Isaac and the story of Job. Whatever supernatural being is responsible for punishing the two kids has a moral best described as "an eye for an eye". Something that I thought humanity would have overcome within the last 2000 years. This picture is completed by the "happy end", where the father simply kills one member of his family. This actually works in the sense that the punishment stops.

    This doesn't mix well with the bits that are (unintentionally?) funny. In fact, these bits (like the talk about her first period) doesn't add anything to the story.

    For me and the audience I was with, the movie failed. People left the cinema. I stayed, cause I wanted to give it a chance. But I was disappointed anyway.
  2. Deathstryke, 3 weeks ago
    I went into "The Killing of a Sacred Deer" knowing that it was based on an ancient Greek tragedy which I had not read and that the trailer was ...pretty weird. So I was braced for something more auteur and symbolic that I would have to retrospectively interpret and extract meaning from, not something immediately tangible or obvious.

    However, try as I might, there was not one meaningful thing I could extract from this ponderous, drawn out mess of a film. I am not familiar with Yorgos Lanthimos's previous work -I have not seen the Lobster- but I'm told TKOASD is very much in keeping with his stylistic quirks; Emotionally vacant, surrealist art installations masquerading as film.

    A brief, spoiler-free summary of the plot: A heart surgeon, his wife and two children are befriended/stalked by a mysterious teenager who's strange mannerisms belie a dark, twisted plan and a destructive supernatural power. The plot and its fantastical leanings didn't bother me. What did bother me was the awkward execution.

    The cast of one dimensional archetypes all ramble their lines in a robotic manner, their eyes fixed in a detached, glacial stare. It is impossible to connect with any of them on an emotional level, even when the stakes rise and certain characters are met with horrific choices, the focus seems to be less about conveying the emotional depth that a real person might plunge to in those circumstances, and more about favoring the artifice of the shot. Barry Keoghan's Martin -the malevolent teenager stalking the family- is perhaps the only character served well by this robotic approach. His monotone aloofness, combined with his shifty vacant eyes make him feel all the more disturbing and unpredictable.

    Colin Farrell on the other hand, gives one of the most stultifying performances of his career. His character, Stephen, a heart surgeon and father of two, is so utterly devoid of pathos, employing his frowny face and flat middle-class Dublin cadence to every line, he fails to make Stephen believable or likable, even when he's blubbering snot all over himself in one incongruously candid scene, it feels artificial and contrived, as in the next scene he goes right back to being a cold, miserable android again.

    Nicole Kidman does a better job with her material as Stephen's wife, at least her delivery is the least morose of the lot, but her performance is still frustratingly restricted in places where it should be amplified, making her mostly unsympathetic.

    Stephen's children, the innocent victims of Martin's vengeful plot, should surely have some element of likability if we are to feel any fear for their predicament, but alas they too are passive, unfeeling robots who fail to engage.

    The film instead relies on gimmicky mechanics to convey tension and dread where the stolid acting falls short. There are dozens of shots where the camera slowly zooms down long corridors or empty rooms, accompanied by screechy, dissonant sound effects as if trying to convince you that the dreary banality of what's unfolding on screen is actually threatening and you should be very afraid.

    The film is also full of pointlessly weird scenarios and obtuse dialogue that seem to be there solely for the purpose of making the viewer squirm uncomfortably. There are many bizarre references to menstruation and armpit hair, a pointless sex scene involving a nude Nicole Kidman pretending to be anesthetized so her pervert husband can get it up, and one particularly risible scene where Colin Farrell confesses to his young son that when he was a small boy, he happened upon his sleeping father and masturbated him until "The bed sheets were covered in sperm".

    The nonsense continues at a creeping pace until the under-whelming, implausible climax, which feels a poor reward for enduring what was essentially a 30 minute short film stretched into two hours. I don't think any amount of retrospective research on "Iphigenia in Aulis" will change my rating. One of the worst films of 2017.