Steven, a charismatic surgeon, is forced to make an unthinkable sacrifice after his life starts to fall apart, when the behavior of a teenage boy he has taken under his wing turns sinister.
Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos has built up a reputation for crafting weird and wonderful films, from the insanity of ‘Dogtooth’ to the absurd comedy of ‘The Lobster’. His latest film, ‘The Killing of a Sacred Deer’, is inspired by a Greek myth where the protagonist is ordered to sacrifice his daughter after accidentally killing a sacred deer, and Lanthimos skilfully transfers this logic to Colin Farrell’s surgeon and his family. It’s a far darker tale than say ‘The Lobster’ (although it still manages to be very funny at times), superbly crafted with a deep sense of unease throughout, but I’m not entirely sure if I enjoyed it or not.
The film’s set up establishes an off kilter feel from the outset, never clearer than the scenes in which Barry Keoghan’s Martin appears. The relationship between Martin and Farrell’s Steven Murphy initially seems to have a standard mentor/mentee dynamic but the narrative soon establishes there’s something more troubling underneath. This is largely down to Keoghan’s wonderfully calibrated performance which creeped me out and maintained an unsettling presence throughout – he’s one to watch for sure. The sense of creeping dread is mirrored by Lanthimos direction that chooses to shoot mainly indoors, down hospital corridors and in the vastness of the Murphy’s suburban house. The film made me feel uncomfortable, but that’s kind of the point as it’s undoubtedly an effective psychological thriller and when it veers into horror territory it’s done with great skill. To the film’s credit, it never shirks the responsibility of delivering on the set up and I was both fascinated and repelled by some of the narrative choices Lanthimos makes.
Colin Farrell is doing some of his best work at this stage in his career and he’s fantastic again as a seemingly quiet family man forced into a horrific choice, whilst Nicole Kidman is as reliable as ever as his wife. Did I enjoy the film? I’m not really sure. I suspect this’ll be a polarizing watch for many, but I find myself coming somewhere down the middle. Not fully taken by it, but in admiration at the performances and the way Lanthimos tells a story. Be interested to get other’s thoughts if anyone’s had a chance to see it!
Directed By: Yorgos Lanthimos
Starring: Colin Farrell, Nicole Kidman, Barry Keoghan, Bill Camp, Alicia Silverstone, Raffey Cassidy and Sunny Suljic