Hi everyone, Bryan here….
Yorgos Lanthimos will hopefully be a household name in the coming years. The filmmaker just has an uncanny knack for the uncomfortable and weird while telling very compelling and twisted stories that will no doubt entertain us and make us think about it long after viewing his work. Coming off of films like ‘The Lobster‘ and ‘Dogtooth‘, the Greek filmmaker unleashes his best film to date with ‘The Killing of a Sacred Deer‘, which could be Stanley Kubrick’s ‘Eyes Wide Shut’s‘ sibling in both style and tone.
The way Yorgos uses his camera is as elegant as it is unsettling that starts with a closeup shot of an open heart surgery, blood and veins and all. The next shot we meet cardiologist Steven Murphy (Colin Farrell) and his anesthesiologist Matt (Bill Camp), as they casually walk down a long hospital hallway, talking about the watches they wear around their wrists. It’s almost as if Yorgos is letting us know we are in for some very uncomfortable situations to come and not everything is what it seems from how far away the camera is from these two medical professionals. It seems that Steven has a wonderful and beautiful family too, including his wife Anna (Nicole Kidman) and their two kids, the teenage Kim and younger brother Bob. Everything seems on the up and up, but when Anna and Steven retire to the bedroom for some intimacy, Yorgos’ dark humor rears its head and the words “General anesthetic” are spoken, which has Anna going limp across the bed so her husband can have his way with her.
Meanwhile, a teenage kid named Martin (Barry Keoghan from ‘Dunkirk‘) has a mysterious relationship with Steven, which is revealed over a certain amount of time. Steven’s family doesn’t know about Martin until he is invited over for dinner, where Martin seems like a lovely, but odd child with his simple, yet off-putting smiles. Martin wants to return the generous favor and invited Steven over for dinner, where we find out that his father died some years earlier at the hands of Steven on the operating table, leaving his mother (Alicia Silverstone) to take care of him and seriously flirt with Steven, which has some truly darkly funny dialogue, and might I add one hell of a cameo from Sliverstone.
Once Steven doesn’t takes the advances, Martin becomes increasingly unstable until he meets with Steven one on one and tells him of the events to come, which is that since Steven killed his father, he must now kill one of his own family members to balance it out. If he doesn’t choose, all three will get sick and die a horrible death. The way Yorgos shoots this scene is so frightening and yet subtle all at the same time, that it still makes the hairs on my arms stand up straight as I still think about it. From then on, the horror only grows larger in such a quiet, yet powerful way with a haunting score that emphasizes the percussion with every character movement.
Instead of having over-the-top characters go crazy throughout the film, Yorgos had his actors completely play each character in a subdued state, which added more terror on screen, because while we see everyone act calmly, we can clearly see everyone on the verge of death. What makes Martin such a horrifying character is his confidence in his actions and dialogue as if he knows something more than we do and his ability to keep his cool while even being tortured.
Most of the film uses sets that are predominantly clean and white with blues and and silvers in the background. It’s almost as everything is ready for an operating table and utterly sterile and clean, but in the climactic scene of the film, the tone turns very warm and gothic, as if we are in hell. It’s quite amazing really. ‘The Killing of a Sacred Deer‘ is a film that will no doubt leave you in an anxiety induced state, and make you question your own thoughts on family, guilt, and redemption if given the choice. Every performance was spot on and perfect here and with Yorgos’ camera work, you’d think Kubrick came back and lent a hand.
A Damn Good Movie!