The Killing of A Sacred Deer

by Greg Vellante

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Friday October 27, 2017

'The Killing Of A Sacred Deer'
'The Killing Of A Sacred Deer'  

Kubrickian without the substance and Lynchian without the heart, Yorgos Lanthimos's "The Killing of a Sacred Deer" is a frustrating affair of dark humor, twisted plot developments and philosophical meditation that never seems to quite add up.

There are moments here of effective psychological torment, not just for the characters on screen but for the audience as well. Pristine visual compositions are accompanied by a nightmarish blend of sound and score, but without the lasting power, these combinations are designed to have. In the thrill of the moment, "The Killing of a Sacred Deer" can be, at times, exhilaratingly engaging. But does it linger? I'm sad to say it does not.

The work by Greek filmmaker Lanthimos (who brought us his take on the romantic comedy with last year's "The Lobster") is at once messy yet focused, loaded yet empty, inspired yet pretentious. I admired so much about it, yet seemed to loathe an equal amount.

This whiplash is felt throughout the film's entirety, in which we follow a troubled surgeon (Colin Farrell), his wife (Nicole Kidman), his daughter and son (Raffey Cassidy and Sunny Suljic, respectively), as well as a strange young man named Martin (a fantastically creepy Barry Keoghan), whom Farrell's character has taken under his wing. Where the film goes from there, well ... there's a lot of talk about human sacrifice, some truly uncomfortable moments, and a scene where Farrell goes on a loud diatribe about his pubic hair.

Such a bizarre and warped film this is, yet I can't deny I was thoroughly engaged with it throughout. But when I wrestle with a film, I prefer for it to last beyond the credits. "The Killing of a Sacred Deer" disappeared from my mind in an instant. Its shots are gorgeous, but not memorable. Its sound design and score are haunting, but not enough to keep me up at night. Its performances are grand, but their overall impact left only a dent in my recollection.

Perhaps if I see it again, it will all come rushing back - not the plot (I remember that well), but the impression it left on me while watching. For all its perversely designed social commentary, "The Killing of a Sacred Deer" left me rather cold. It's a think piece that doesn't penetrate the psyche enough, and a horror film that doesn't sneak its way into your nightmares. In the end, it seems just to exist.