Starring: Colin Farrell, Nicole Kidman, Barry Keoghan
Director: Yorgos Lanthimos
Running Time: 121 mins
The Killing Of A Sacred Deer is an Irish film about a surgeon and father who finds himself pushed into a horrifying situation when a teenage boy he has taken under his wing begins to exhibit sinister behaviour that causes the surgeon’s life to fall apart.
No less than you would expect from Yorgos Lanthimos, director of Dogtooth and The Lobster, The Killing Of A Sacred Deer is a deeply disturbing, dark, and all-round messed-up film. With his uniquely dark humour, it proves an entertaining (albeit in an extremely unorthodox way) watch, furthered by some great performances. With that said, however, it’s by no means as thrilling weird as The Lobster, and doesn’t have the same level of imagination to really grab you in the same way, meaning that it can get a little bit lost on you at times.
In fact, this isn’t really meant to be a strange film at all, but rather a deeply unsettling and heavily disturbing one. From the very first scene, anyone who’s even the slightest bit squeamish will probably want to turn away, and the film continues on with being as relentlessly and unhingingly dark from then on.
And what’s more is that it’s not blood and gore that make the film so dark – this film in fact has far less of that than even The Lobster – instead it’s the overbearingly disturbing plot elements that show how an intelligent and sane man can completely lose his mind, and see his family totally destroyed, by nothing more than the uneasy presence of a boy.
If there’s one thing that you’ll remember about The Killing Of A Sacred Deer, then it’s just how dark it is – to the point where you really wouldn’t recommend it to anyone of a nervous disposition, as it hits completely hopeless and deeply depressing levels that do often make it a rather nasty watch.
However, the good thing about the movie is, despite it being deeply unsettling and dark at every moment, there is still method to its madness. The story, although at times a little hard to follow, and often lacking in the same pulsatingly unique atmosphere as The Lobster, is a cleverly laid-out and deeply mysterious one, as you start off the movie not knowing what’s going on at all, from any of the characters’ motivations to any of their backgrounds, only for that to be unveiled to you slowly over the course of the movie, proving a satisfying and exciting watch throughout.
Those mysterious characters are furthered by the lead performances, which are just as terrifyingly unsettling as Lanthimos’ darkly humorous film. Colin Farrell puts in a similar turn to The Lobster, with his awkward dialogue and reserved personality, although the direction that his character takes this time proves a completely different challenge, and one that ups the level of drama and thrills significantly.
Supporting performances from the likes of Nicole Kidman and Raffey Kassidy work brilliantly to crush any hope that the film could shine a light of innocence at any point, while even Alicia Silverstone thrills in a stunning cameo appearance that sparks the beginning of the film’s insanity.
Above all, however, is the performance from Barry Keoghan, who plays the teenage boy that seems to initiate all the horror that unfolds. What’s great about the character is that there’s nothing overtly evil about his personality, but through Keoghan’s performance, he proves a deeply unsettling presence every time he appears on screen, as he acts in such a mysterious and seemingly alien manner that you can’t help but feel pretty horrified and disturbed by his every word and move.
On the whole, it’s fair to say that this film does the job of being a dark and unnerving drama and psychological thriller. However, while I was impressed and regularly unsettled by that, I did feel that the film was lacking in a certain energy and ingenuity throughout, something that meant I wasn’t absolutely thrilled by how dark the film was, but instead felt a little underwhelmed by Lanthimos’ dark ideas, which was a bit of a shame to see, often losing the maximum power and potential of the film as a whole.
Overall, however, I did like The Killing Of A Sacred Deer. It’s exactly the sort of film you’d expect from this director, complete with endlessly dark, disturbing and deeply unsettling drama and pseudo-horror throughout, furthered by some great performances throughout, and although it’s not quite as thrillingly weird or dark as you may like, it’s still a strong outing, and that’s why I’m giving it a 7.4.