Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The Killing of a Sacred Deer: Review

In Euripides' play, Iphigenia at Aulis, King Agamemnon accidentally killed a deer, sacred to Artemis, goddess of wilderness. This, of course, enraged her, and as a result, she stopped all the winds so the King's ships could not sail to Troy during the Trojan War. Artemis did, however, offer the king one deal: in order to appease her, Agamemnon had to sacrifice his daughter, Iphigenia, in return for killing a sacred deer. 

Cue Yorgos Lanthimos and his recent drama/horror, aptly titled The Killing of a Sacred Deer. Lanthimos has nurtured his trademark bold and unsettling style, and The Killing is no different. He starts the film with an extreme close up of open heart surgery, and it's hard to hold your gaze as this scene slowly unravels. The characters are similar to those in his cult-hit The Lobster, along with Dogtooth, wherein they deliver monotonous lines and go through their daily motions in in an eerily calm demeanour. Characters in Lanthimos films are always robotic, and in a way perhaps he's representing modern day relationships? 

Whatever the case, this leads you to believe that something is off - Yorgos' world isn't one we as viewers are used to. This is a dystopian universe where lessons must be learned. And so, just with the myth of Iphigenia, we find our lead character, Steven (played by the brilliant Colin Farrell), having to make the ultimate, unfathomable sacrifice. 

Of course, it'd be very upsetting to give this away, so I'll save it for you all to find out on your own. You won't have to wait long, as we're hit with the macabre news pretty early on in the film, and you spend the rest of the time sitting in agony, waiting for Steven's final judgment day. 

The supporting cast is also fabulous. Scott's wife, Anna, is played by Nicole Kidman, and they have two beautiful children, Kim (Raffey Cassidy) and Bob (Sunny Suljic). It naturally seems quite bizarre that Steven has taken a very awkward teenager named Martin (Barry Keoghan), under his wing when he appears to have an ideal life otherwise. Shortly after Steven starts spending time with Martin, his family begins to come down with mysterious medical plights. 

Hailing from Greece himself, Yorgos is the perfect man to tell the tale of a modern Greek tragedy. You're left utterly speechless and impressed at the end of the film, as so many subtle elements contribute to making The Killing a masterpiece. The grandiose music, featuring classical composers such as Bach and Franz Schubert, give the movie a sense of brilliance. Meanwhile, Yorgos also borrows elements from Stanley Kubrick's The Shining. With the Steadicam shots that ominously pan, to the tensity of the scenes between Steven and Martin, the similarities are uncanny. Even Bob, Steven's son, has a striking resemblance to Danny from The Shining. 

The Killing of a Sacred Deer sets itself up as a gem of psychological horror and I wouldn't be surprised if Lanthimos walks away with an Oscar for his work. I highly recommend watching this in theatres, as the nerve-wracking scenes are so much more amplified seeing them on the big screen. You simply can't look away, and why would you? Yorgos Lanthimos has yet again proven he's able to take an abstract and absurd concept and deliver in a way that leaves you deeply disturbed yet engaged. You're dragged into his world and left to linger on it for months to come. 


1 comment

  1. You've certainly got me intrigued! I'm so bad at going to the cinema - I need to do much more of that this year, as I'm missing great films like this :-)

    Chiara - www.wineandolives.co.uk


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