Seamlessly and perfectly blending dread and humour, The Killing of a Sacred Deer is a staggering cinematic experience. Laughter, terror, uncertainty, confusion, and a whole slew of other distressing and perplexing emotions carry you through this mesmerizing can’t-miss drama. And it starts right off the top, as we get in up close view of open heart surgery, made all the more dramatic backed up by a bombastic classical score.
The less one knows about the plot, the better off they are – in part because the mystery is one component of the thrill. Not that knowing how the characters fit in with one another will ruin the experience, but because of the way in which they all speak, the way they look at one another, there is so much that should be taken in through the first half of the film. Let this immersive, odd environment wash over you – the terror will follow in time.
Writer and director Yorgos Lanthimos, as he did with The Lobster creates a strange world with weird people and particular forces beyond their control will dictate their actions.
We’ve an affluent, successful couple at the center of story in Steven (Colin Farrell) and Anna (Nicole Kidman). He is a cardiologist, and while she is a doctor as well, sometimes Steven doesn’t think it’s exactly the same. The couple indeed have a sex life, though a peculiar one at that. They’ve a teenage daughter on the verge of womanhood and a prepubescent son who is in need of a haircut.
Then there is Martin, 16-year-old who is about to roil their existence. His interest in Steven, who has taken him under his wing of sorts following the death of Martin’s father after a failed surgery, reaches peak levels. Initially it seems a father-son type of bond, with Martin clearly lacking social skills and perhaps some other mental struggles. He grows increasingly in need of Martin’s attention, and soon that of his family.
Eventually the distinct dialogue becomes commonplace, and the mystery morphs into terror. And yet throughout, there is morbid comedy in a variety of fashions. With all its idiosyncrasies and exceptionally tonal balancing act, Deer is instantly and utterly captivating. Even as a surgeon tinkers with a heart in the opening frames, you can’t look away. Where Deer is most winning iis in its characters, people you feel for and root for, especially with Martin as an antagonist counter. He is a kid unnerving from the start, and clearly possessive of specific goal. It won’t be fun finding out what it is.