From Yorgos Lanthimos, director of the critically acclaimed The Lobster and Dogtooth emerges The Killing of a Sacred Deer. The most unsettling and thrilling movie to grace our screens since David Fincher’s Gone Girl.
From The Killing of a Sacred Deer‘s opening shot, Lanthimos reaches out of the screen and pins your eyes open like Alex DeLarge in that scene from Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange. You won’t look away until the credits roll, though you’ll never have wanted to more. Introduce Cardiologist and family man Steven (Colin Farrell). His interactions with family and odd teenage acquaintance Martin lull us into a mire of suspicion and discomfort. Dialogue between characters is stunted and often expressionless, as though some unspoken sentiment lurks behind every conversation.
The smallest unwelcome details build into a thick fog of foreboding and Lanthimos never eases his foot off the accelerator.
The use of lighting emphasises this point really well. In the opening, we observe Steven from the clinically bright lights of the hospital, but the film grows progressively darker until its climax is veiled in shadow and suspense. Light and darkness are only one of the many dichotomies that leave us searching between the cracks. The cinematography draws a stark contrast between extreme close-ups and wide, distant shots for characters. The effect of this obscures our empathy and innate desire to ascertain characters’ authenticity. We grapple for a relatable character to trust, and we are left uncomfortably alone.
I won’t talk any more about the plot, because The Killing of a Sacred Deer is the kind of movie which I highly recommend going in blind to.
The acting is phenomenal across the board from the likes of Nicole Kidman, Colin Farrell, Barry Keoghan, and Raffey Cassidy. A cast sure to draw crowds in, but also so masterful at their craft that they do true justice to Lanthimos’ creative genius.
The score perfectly ushers the surmounting tension, too, caressing your spine with stunted and isolated phrases, as opposed to a more conventional and fluid score. The music (term used loosely) builds and punctuates suspense, at times growing louder ever than the dialogue, obscuring it. The soundtrack is reminiscent of Kubrick’s The Shining, which is never a bad comparison to make.
Written by Edward Jones – Student Pages Sub Editor