The Killing of a Sacred Deer
Making his directorial return after The Lobster, Yorgos Lanthimos is back alongside co-writer Efthymis Filipou with The Killing of a Sacred Deer, a film that is as brilliantly absurd and insane as its title would suggest. With Sacred Deer, Lanthimos and Filipou once again achieve a perfect pitch-black comedy with a combination of deadpan writing and precision filmmaking to depict the macabre plot of a cardiologist, Steven Murphy (Colin Farrell), who is forced to make an unthinkable decision after a strange boy (Barry Keoghan) enters his family’s lives.
The core of Sacred Deer’s success lies primarily within its writing and delivery. Much like The Lobster, characters speak in an overtly blunt manner devoid of any real sense of emotional dynamics. Lines are delivered in a cold matter-of-fact style where spontaneous discussions about comparing body hair are as ordinary as inviting someone to dinner within the surreal world the Greek authors have created. Farrell (who also starred in The Lobster) once again gives an enthralling impassive performance; his lilting Irish accent serves as a humorous counterpoint to the depressing and often disturbing undertones embedded into the script. The supporting cast, too, are all excellent at conveying the same level of comically cold indifference and are simply a joy to watch together with Nicole Kidman (who plays Steven’s wife, Anna) and Keoghan being notable standouts.
Every shot and edit within Sacred Deer feels fully controlled and executed. Using mostly static long shots and close-ups, Lanthimos’s clinical direction grounds his film in reality. Although this means some sequences are visually uninteresting, the overall tone results in establishing a world that is recognisable as our own but simultaneously alien which is reinforced with a sparing use of dissonant chords that punctuate vital moments in an affectively unnerving manner. This off-kilter story only gets stranger as it builds to an unyielding climax.
Unlike The Lobster, however, there is no biting social satire lurking within. This is not necessarily to the film’s discredit as Lanthimos and Filipou have essentially taken a simple premise and ran with it, elevating it to unimaginably devilish and twisted heights. Its absurdist macabre tones may not suit all tastes but for those who like their black comedy strong, they will find Sacred Deer a delicious experience.
The Killing of a Sacred Deer is released nationwide on 3rd November 2017.
Watch the trailer for The Killing of a Sacred Deer here: