The Killing of a Sacred Deer

The Killing of a Sacred Deer

In Theatres: 
Oct 27, 2017
Running Time: 
121 minutes

Nothing is ever straightforward with Yorgos Lanthimos. His last film, The Lobster, is about finding love within a world bounded by a peculiar set of rules where single people have 45 days to find a partner, or else they will be transformed into an animal. It’s an abstract black comedy that can be difficult to digest but is concise with its message about love. His latest film, The Killing of a Sacred Deer, deals with the struggles of having that love taken away. Unlike The Lobster, there is nothing funny about the film as it takes the question, “Who do you love more?” to the extreme.


Surgeon and cardiologist Steven Murphy (Colin Farrell) seems to have an idyllic life; a happy family, a nice home, and a fulfilling job. He has even formed a mutual relationship with Martin (Barry Keoghan), a teenage boy who looks up to Steven as a father figure. Everything is thrown into chaos however, when Steven’s son Bob (Sunny Suljic) becomes paralyzed in his legs for no apparent reason. As things worsen and his daughter Kim (Raffey Cassidy) begins to show the same signs as well, Martin reveals that he must kill one member of his family or else they will all eventually die from this mysterious illness. One life for two; Steven must decide who he loves most.


The Killing of a Sacred Deer is a strange movie because like Steven you’re never quite sure what is going on. The entire picture is never fully explained so you’re left hypothesizing as to how all of this is happening. Despite the grounded nature of the setting, there is clearly something otherworldly going on here, and it all stems from Martin.


Barry Keoghan is absolutely unnerving in the role of Martin. Right of the bat beginning with his first meeting with Steven you can tell that something isn’t quite right with the boy. Eventually you come to learn that he’s the one behind the sick and twisted “game” Steven must play. How he’s doing it is never explained so audiences are left to their own imaginations regarding his so-called power. It makes the film much more tense and terrifying because we don’t know the full extent of what Martin can do. It’s clear he takes joy in mentally torturing Steven, and there is also this child-like innocence to him that makes him all the more disturbing. Everything is so nonchalant to him as if the whole situation is not that big a deal. Keoghan does a phenomenal job and plays one of the most creepy characters I’ve seen on screen this year.


The Killing of a Sacred Deer is definitely not a film for everyone. It can be rather slow as it builds intensity, and the story is not as clearcut as it perhaps needed to be. If you’re a fan of Yorgos Lanthimos’ previous work than I believe you’ll enjoy it as well, though. Like the director, it’s strange and abstract, but this is one film that will be stuck in your memory for quite some time.

Matt Rodriguez
Review by Matt Rodriguez
Follow him @ Twitter
Friend him @ Facebook