Fantastic Fest 2017 Review: THE KILLING OF A SACRED DEER

By Mark Saldana

Rating: 4 (Out of 4 Stars)

Writer/director Yorgos Lanthimos’s follow up to to the critically acclaimed The Lobster is an equally brilliant film that mixes dark cringe comedy into a psychological horror story that is guaranteed to stay with its audiences.  Lanthimos has a distinctive style that is obviously well-schooled in Stanley Kubrick, David Lynch, Wes Anderson, and French New Wave.  The filmmaker utilizes these influences well to offer his own distinctive voice.  With an amazing script, superb direction and outstanding performances by the cast, The Killing of a Sacred Deer is a movie guaranteed to confound some audiences, but then again, some of the best art in the world has that same impact.

Colin Farrell stars as Dr. Steven Murphy, a seemingly content and financially successful neurosurgeon with a successful wife (Nicole Kidman) and two children (Raffey Cassidy, Sunny Suljic).  Steven not only has a cold, clinical approach to his work, he often treats his family in the same way.  Steven is not completely heartless, though.  He shares an awkward friendship with a teenager named Martin (Barry Keoghan), a seemingly lonely young man who follows Steven around like a lost puppy.  Things begin to get stranger and more awkward as Steven allows Martin to get better acquainted with him and his family and especially after Martin introduces Steven to his mother (Alicia Silverstone).  As Steven really gets to know Martin, he comes to the realization that Martin isn’t as harmless as he originally thought.

Yorgos Lanthimos’s new film serves as a dark and disturbing parable targeting accountability, carelessness and passivity.  I was really blown away with his and co-writer Efthymis Filippou’s  script and story and absolutely loved the appropriately clinical style in which the story gets presented.  Lanthimos’s Kubrick influences are especially evident in the gorgeous cinematography by Thimios Bakatakis.  The awkward and creepy undertones of the movie’s scenarios are definitely heightened by dark and forboding musical notes that will keep audiences totally unsettled.  The film features superb performances by Colin Farrell, Nicole Kidman, Raffey Cassidy and Sunny Suljic, but it is Barry Keoghan’s turn as the odd and malevolent Martin that deserves all the praise.  Fans of Yorgos Lanthimos are sure to appreciate this bizarre, but astute examination of humanity and inhumanity.

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