Home Video Release Review: The Killing of a Sacred Deer

Because who has time for theaters?    

        In Yorgos Lanthimos’s new film The Killing of a Sacred Deer, the viewer is immersed in a suspenseful story of revenge. Stephen the surgeon and his family undergo a series of mysterious illness with initially ambiguous yet horrifying origins.  The terse (almost surgically tight), and emotionally removed dialogue creates a socially unaware and altogether uncomfortable experience. Couple this with the intense brightness which pervades throughout most scenes of the film and it is hard to ignore Lanthimos’s intention of bringing to light the coded nature of our speech and behavior.

            Performances by Farrell and Kidman are off-putting, albeit intentionally. The cold surgical technicality pervades throughout the entirety of the film and almost results in the perception of disinterested callousness. This being the intention, however, leaves the viewer with the impression that the roles are extraordinarily executed. The real star comes in the form of Barry Keoghan whose portrayal of antagonist Martin goes beyond disturbing, pushing the viewer almost to the point of hatred. His job is so well done that I cannot imagine seeing another film of his without having to reconcile him as Martin.

            Any fan of Lanthimos will undoubtedly be familiar with his most recent foray into black comedy with 2015’s The Lobster, a film which (successfully) integrates the weird into a structure and narrative that we can find fun and interesting as viewers. Much like his earlier work, i.e. Dogtooth, KOASD creates a psychologically challenging and frightening atmosphere in which our ideas of morality, God, guilt, human error and retribution can be examined. A beautiful and appropriately conscious work. Not for the faint of heart.