REVIEW: The Killing of a Sacred Deer
Directed and co-written by Yorgos Lathimos
By Christopher Spencer
Directed and co-written by Yorgos Lathimos, The Killing of a Sacred Deer stars Colin Farrell and Nicole Kidman. Steven Murphy (Farrell) is a successful heart surgeon, living in a perfect life with wife Anna (Kidman) and their two children. But the son of one of Steven’s patients, Martin (Dunkirk’s Barry Keoghan), is getting too close to the family, and soon strange, horrifying events start to unfold and threaten to destroy their perfect life.
Personally, I haven’t enjoyed Yorgos Lathimos’ directorial career. I could not get into 2009’s Dogtooth nor was his previous film The Lobster my cup of tea. It’s the idiosyncratic, surreal style without meaning that frustrates me instead of engaging me.
The same is very true for The Killing of a Sacred Deer, something a little more straightforward than Dogtooth or The Lobster, but just as perplexing and coldly unimportant. We have solid performances from pretty much all actors involved, however I only see this when they show glimmers of emotion.
Most of the movie is filled with flat, monotone dialogue that might be intended to give the audience a sense of uneasiness, but why in this way? One can make an unsettling film through cinematography and basic film language, not making the characters dull and dreary in most behaviours. I just don’t understand what the purpose is.
When we do get anger or sadness of true fear, the movie can thrill and disturb. But these are minor moments in an otherwise long and tedious experience with no reward, positive or negative. I’ve seen films that end on bleak notes, but that is still a reward of a thrilling experience throughout. The Killing of a Sacred Deer simply just ends abruptly without ever feeling like what you’ve seen was necessary.
This is an ambitious style that works for many out there, but just not me. I can see what Lathimos and the filmmakers are attempting, and how strong the influence of things like Greek tragedy, guilt and responsibility weighs on the story. It’s just not my preferred experience. The Killing of a Sacred Deer left me empty in the worst ways, and no amount of unique cinematography, strong actors, or haunting music can repair that.