Thursday 30 November 2017

Film Review: The Killing of a Sacred Deer

Thought you had a stomach for weird shit? Think again. 

I never got around to seeing The Lobster (I know, shame on me), so to say I wasn't sure what to expect and was woefully unprepared when I bought a ticket to The Killing of a Sacred Deer is an understatement.

The second English language film from Greek auteur Yorgos Lanthimos, The Killing of a Sacred Deer starts out steady before spiralling off into madness to explore territory that you wouldn't believe. The plot centres on Steven Murphy (Colin Farrell), a skilled cardiologist who has taken a young boy named Martin (Barry Keoghan) under his wing. Steven is something of a mentor to Martin, but the exact nature of their relationship is never explained.

As the film goes on, Martin starts to encroach more and more on Steven's life; after being invited for dinner at Steven's home, Martin starts to show an interest in the doctor's family as well. After a while, it becomes clear that Martin has some other motivation for his interest in Steven which are all together more sinister and twisted.

Draped in an impenetrable curtain of dread, and driven by a morbid curiosity to see just how far it goes, The Killing of a Sacred Deer is definitely not what I would describe as a 'good time' at the movies. That's not to say it's a bad film; quite the opposite in fact – in almost every regard, from editing to cinematography and scoring, it is a masterclass of creating tension.

It's just not going to make you feel good inside. Instead, you'll feel transfixed, staring mouth agape. Lanthimos pulls you in and keeps you rooted in your seat from start to finish through a whole host of factors, from the odd rhythm with which the dialogue flows to the way the camera lingers just a fraction longer than you'd like.

The unnatural, floating lens follows the characters through the film like an invisible spectre looming overhead. On a number of occasions, it stalks the characters through long, empty hospital corridors, zigzagging around corners without pause.

Out of his depth and rapidly descending into desperation, Farrell doubles up on his impressive turn in Sofia Copploa's The Beguiled with yet another great performance here. Nicole Kidman, who plays Steven's wife Anna, is equally fantastic.

However, it's Keoghan who steals the show. This kid is going places.  Every facial movement, gesture and sentiment Martin conveys is terrifying. He makes eating a plate of spaghetti the scariest thing you've seen all year.

The Verdict: 8.5/10

An shocking exploration of panic and desperation that will shatter your faith in humanity, The Killing of a Sacred Deer is one of the best thrillers you see all year.

The Killing of a Sacred Deer is in cinemas across Australia now.

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