Cinema Recall Terror Tuesday: ‘The Killing of a Sacred Deer’ (2017) 

Hello Everyone, it is time for another episode of Terror Tuesday over at the  Cinema Recall Podcast. This Week, The Vern reviews The Killing of a Sacred Deer from director Yorgos Lanthimos, and Fear X directed by Nicolas Winding Refn. Which movie rated higher and which one lower.  Well listen to the podcast to find out.

The Killing of a Sacred Deer is a 2017 Drama/ Thriller about a successful surgeon, who is asked to murder one of his own family members by the son of a patient that died under his care several years ago.

Being a fan of Yorgos Lanthimos’ other movies (The LobsterDogtooth), this was a movie I was looking most forward too. The trailer was very vague about what the story was about, and I liked that. I just didn’t expect the actual plot to be so. This is a movie that has a really interesting premise, and the story is good. It just fails in its execution.

In the beginning, I was unsure of why Dr. Steven Murphy (Colin Farrell) was spending so much time with this young boy named Martin (Barry Keoghan).  It’s never explained until much later that he was the one who failed the operation with the boy’s father. I almost thought that Steven was a pedophile who was preying on Martin. When he brings Martin home to meet his family and asks him to spend the night. I was reminded of a moment from Todd Solendz‘s dark comedy Happiness with Dylan Baker‘s character.

As the story progresses, we learn that it is Martin who is the one that is preying on Steven. In one cringe worthy scene, he invites him over to watch a movie with him and his mother played by Alicia Silverstone from Clueless

After Stephen denies the sexual advances of Martin’s mother, the next day his son Bob (Sunny Suljic) can no longer walk and has lost his appetite. While at the hospital, Stephen is told by Martin that the condition of his son along with his daughter Kim (Raffey Cassidy) and wife Anna (Nicole Kidman) will end up getting worse. First they will be unable to walk, next they will no longer be able to eat, after that they will bleed from the eyes and then they will die. Martin tells Stephen that if he chooses to kill one of them first, than everyone will go back to being fine. One family member for another since his father died under Dr. Murphy’s care.

If I would have known at the start that Martin blames Steven for the death of  his father, I could understand his motivation a bit more. But it seems to come out of nowhere and I was completely surprised. There was nothing that even explains why this kid was able to make each family member suffer the way they do. In one scene he is able to make the daughter walk to the window just by talking to her on her phone. Was this all some sort of hypnosis spell he is putting them all through. Was there a moment when he poisoned them and I missed it? The more I think about this movie, the more it angers me.

The one thing I find frustrating about this whole thing is that the tone is all over the place. Some parts are supposed to be quite dramatic and serious and others are awkwardly funny. I don’t mind watching a heavy drama that has a few scenes of comedy and vice versa, but The Killing of a Sacred Deer goes back and forth so much with the tone, I’m not sure if I’m supposed to feel sorry for the character of Steven or laugh at him. The situation of him being forced to choose one family member to die so that the rest can live is indeed serious. However the choices he makes to solve this dilemma are out right hilarious. Take one scene when he asks the school principal which one he would keep and you see what I mean. If this was going for a dark comedy tone it should go with it and stay with it, not switch things up during the story development

However, the cinematography of this movie is astounding. There are many shots  that pay homage to the works of Stanley Kubrick. Especially with the long tracking shots from director of photography Thimios Bakatakis. The result is something quite beautiful to see on the big screen.

The actors are all fine, but their delivery is as flat as that in The Lobster. That technique of dialogue was fine for that feature, because they were establishing an alternate universe. The Killing of a Sacred Deer, however, feels very much like the real world, and that same flat tone doesn’t work. Same thing goes for his previous effort Dogtooth  In that movie the family was isolated from the real world so it was fine for them to have different speech patterns but in this it felt really out of place.

The Killing of a Sacred Deer is a movie that I respect but don’t like. I respect the actors for being able to put their complete trust in Yorgos Lanthimos and do things on screen that most actors would be afraid to go. I love the look of the film and the odd sound design in certain scenes. I just don’t like how the story and plot were developed. The motivation of certain characters were never fully developed and I had no strong opinions one way or another about how I was suppose to feel about their outcome.

Cinema Recall Terror Tuesday: ‘The Killing of a Sacred Deer’ (2017) 

Movie description: The Killing of a Sacred Deer is a 2017 Drama/ Thriller about a successful surgeon, who is asked to murder one of his own family members by the son of a patient that died under his care several years ago.

Director(s): Yorgos Lanthimos

Actor(s): Nicole Kidman, Colin Farrell, Alicia Silverstone

Genre: Drama

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  1. MovieManJackson December 16, 2017
    • The Vern January 3, 2018
  2. Anonymous December 20, 2017
    • The Vern January 3, 2018