Yorgis Lanthismos’ new film, The Killing of a Sacred Deer, is going to make a lot of people very angry-and for good reason. Heart warmer or proud cynic, the end of this film is going to challenge you in a number of ways, pushing you down a staircase in slow motion. I didn’t care for it. Let me tell you why.
Steven Murphy (a disheveled yet happily Irish tongued Colin Farrell) has the American Dream in a headlock. He is a world renowned cardiovascular surgeon with a wife, Anna (Nicole Kidman), running a successful ophthalmologist clinic, and two kids, Bob (Sunny Suljic) and Kim (Raffey Cassidy), experiencing normal problems like haircuts and singing lessons.
And then there’s the mysterious Martin (Barry Keoghan), whom Steven has taken an interest in due to Martin’s ambition to be a surgeon as well and some other unknown reason that you find out later on. Something’s not right about this kid, and his literal speaking manner is the smallest problem. Let’s just say Martin kicks the leg out from under the family’s happy life and things get progressively worse. Such as sudden paralysis and bloody eyed worse.
The Killing of a Sacred Deer is the first time I’ve laughed out loud in a theater at a film that was actually horrifying me. Lanthimos’ thriller is as unsettling as a two hour dental visit, with Martin’s true intentions unfolding as the running time climbs.
When Steven is faced with the toughest decision a parent would ever have to make, you will think about leaving the theater. But then you won’t, staying locked into your seat in order to see what he actually decides in the end.
The script is full of overly simplistic and literal communication that dries out the emotional connection. Even the 12 and 14 year children of the Murphy’s will seem like they have a computer chip inside their body instead of a heart. Maybe that was on purpose, or perhaps Lanthimos doesn’t want you to feel anything.
I’ll be honest with you: this movie doesn’t make for a good time. You won’t want to take your girlfriend for pie after this. Maybe a sad piece of angel food cake in a darkly lit kitchen, because this is a cold film.
After I left the theater, I was asked what I thought. At first, I had no answer. Most of the critics around me lacked an answer as well. Then it hit me on my way back to my car.
This isn’t the kind of movie you can easily call trash or gold. The film looks gorgeous and is well-made. Yes, the film’s first and second acts are thought provoking, but the third act just made me shake my shoulders in utter despair.
If I had to compare this film to another, it would be Darren Aronoksky’s recent film, the highly controversial Mother! That film was equally maddening and got more extreme as the plot twists stacked up, but the writer/director knew what he was doing and more importantly, where he was going. When the end came, it fit the previous act. The Killing of a Sacred Deer’s ending did not and carried zero purpose.
It just made me mad.
Avoid this film unless you want an unsettling, unintentionally funny, and ultimately pleasure-less experience. Save it for that time when you have a high fever, stomach ache and bad back all at once. The look on your face will match this film’s heart: angry and hollow.
Watch Mother! instead.