Thursday, November 9, 2017
The Killing of a Sacred Deer
★★★★★ - A Review by Cameron Kanachki
Since his 2009 breakout film Dogtooth, the Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos has slowly worked his way to the top of absurdist cinema with his truly unique blend of dark comedy & psychological horror. His most recent film, 2016's The Lobster, was one of my favorite films of 2016, & was so deeply idiosyncratic you can't help but laugh at the absurdity of it.
But now, he has taken away most of the biting dark comedy & added more of the disturbing psychological horror with The Killing of a Sacred Deer, an equally hilarious & terrifying film. The film follows Steven Murphy (played by Colin Farrell), a renowned surgeon. He & his wife, Anna (played by Nicole Kidman), have 2 children: 14-year old Kim (played by Raffey Cassidy) & 12-year-old Bob (played by Sunny Suljic).
Recently, Steven has become a mentor to Martin (played by Barry Keoghan), the son of a former patient of Steven's. As Martin becomes closer to Steven, he also becomes closer to Kim. Also, Martin becomes more unhinged, basically coercing Steven into meeting his mother (played by Alicia Silverstone), who is obviously sexually attracted to Steven.
One day, before school, Bob has a bad experience & is sent to the hospital. Martin meets Steven at the hospital, & tells him that for something Steven did in the past, he must pay back & make an ultimate sacrifice. But this is only the tip of the iceberg, as Steven has more secrets, including one that his anesthesiologist, Matthew (played by Bill Camp) has in his hands.
The cast is excellent. Farrell & Kidman are dynamite. Silverstone gives her greatest performance ever. But Barry Keoghan is the true star. He makes you feel equally frightened & creeped out.
Yorgos Lanthimos's direction is amazing. He creates such a tense & disturbing atmopshere that you can't tear yourself away from the screen.
The screenplay by Yorgos Lanthimos & Efthymis Filippou is brilliant. The dark comedy Lanthimos is known for, although there is less of it here, always manages to stand out. And the characters are so idiosyncratic that they're almost impossible to describe.
The cinematography by Thimios Bakatakis is astounding. Every shot feels so cold & distant, reminding us of the cinematography from the films of Stanley Kubrick, especially The Shining.
And the sound design is absolutely stunning. It's so jarring that it will shake you to your very core.
This is one of the best films of the year. It holds you tight & doesn't let go for its entire runtime as it terrifies you, disturbs you, & possibly makes you laugh.
The Killing of a Sacred Deer was seen by me at the Landmark Main Art Theatre in Royal Oak, MI on Friday, October 27, 2017. It is currently in 3 theaters in the Detroit area: the Landmark Main Art Theatre in Royal Oak, MI; the AMC Forum 30 in Sterling Heights, MI; & the AMC Livonia 20 in Livonia, MI. Its runtime is 121 minutes, & it is rated R for disturbing violent & sexual content, some graphic nudity & language.