Hola Dannie aqui!
Got a review of "The Killing of a Sacred Deer" sent in today by the mysterious and new reviewer SeaWitch! Read on!
SeaWitch here with a review that is almost painful to write for The Killing of a Sacred Deer. This “psychological horror” film was directed by Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos (The Lobster), Lanthimos previous works are heavier on black comedy and perhaps that’s where he should continue to focus. The Killing of a Sacred Deer stood out to me since the first trailer I saw, the lack of details and the haunting voice of Raffey Cassidy softly crooning Ellie Goulding’s Burn foreshadowed a mysterious tale of character driven drama that was guaranteed to keep me on the edge of my seat for it’s entire 121 minute runtime, right? How wrong I was.
The movie opens with a scene from an open heart surgery, the beating of the heart steady, it’s rhythm a match for mine, while I prepared to fall into an engaging story. Collin Farrell’s(Phone Booth) first moments on film immediately drew me in, all the characters for the first half of the film speak in a very wooden and stilted manner, reminiscent of the first script readthrough at a high school musical. This sounds like bad acting, but Lanthimos pulled it off in such an encompassing way that it quickly shifts from being a conscious thought to a subconscious one, an uncomfortable and awkward one. The Killing of a Sacred Deer is not afraid to leave you without information, making you second guess what is actually happening, until the second half of the film drops the unsettling atmosphere and spoon feeds you. Throughout the first half of the film this is maintained as we meet our protagonist Steve and his family, a nuclear family with doctors as parents, and see his interactions with Martin(played by Barry Keoghan), a teenager that Steve is perhaps too friendly with. The character’s flat dialogue while they interact with each other hints that perhaps they aren’t being honest with each other, or themselves. Frankly, I highly enjoyed the build up, it’s a shame that once the audience is let into the actual plot it’s such a disappointment.
The relationship between Steve and Martin slides into emotionally unhealthy territory and Steve decides to limit contact with Martin, shortly after this Steve’s son falls ill with partial paralysis. Martin finds Steve in his son’s hospital room where he informs Steve that the illness is his revenge, turns out Martin blames Steve for the death of Martin’s father during a surgery. This reveal was the first sour taste in my mouth, Martin explains that Steven’s family will get sick one after another and then die unless Steve kills one of them first, the good old eye-for-an-eye style of justice. Instead of immediately involving the police over this very obvious threat to this family Steven only has Martin escorted from the hospital. The story and atmosphere of the movie definitely dip here, but remain constant until it’s revealed that Martin isn’t doing this through some sort of poisoning or exposure to a dangerous substance, no, he’s some sort of revenge sprite, a karmic force that has full control over the curse on Steve’s family. At this point all of the characters lose their stilted way of speech and converse naturally as a way to let the audience know that we are seeing the real, uncensored version of the character, who unfortunately are all actually morons.
Highlights include Nicole Kidman’s character stopping Steve from killing Martin and then shortly afterward kissing Martin’s feet to try to appease the vengeance demon. Steve decides to give into this magic spell and chooses the family member that will die by spinning in circles with a rifle and randomly pulling the trigger, instead of using a less painful method, like mixing up three cups and poisoning a random one. Of course this breaks the hex and allows the family to survive, not to mention they are somehow able to get away with it!
The Killing of a Sacred Deer is based on the classic Greek play Iphigenia in Aulis, a precursor to The Iliad, unfortunately this retelling tried too hard to be an atmospheric horror movie and didn’t properly set up the framework to hold together as well as the source material. The original play tells the story of Agamemnon being told he must sacrifice his daughter to the Goddess Artemis in order to get favourable winds to sail to war, leading to a tragedy where one family member is lost in order to try to regain another. The title is a nod to an apocryphal ending to the play where Agamemnon’s daughter is replaced with a deer on the sacrificial altar, perhaps implying that Steve didn’t need to actually kill anyone?
After the credits rolled I was very disappointed in this film, it had such promise and started so strong to have such a terrible ending. I think next time I want a story of mystic, karmic revenge I'll watch Stephen King’s Thinner instead.
Thanks for the review SeaWitch! Sorry your first review was of a bummer of a film, I will still have to check this one out though!
Stay Strong, Live Good, Love Movies!
Dannie aka Pekosa Peligrosa