Monday, November 20, 2017

Movie Review: The Killing of a Sacred Deer

Yorgos Lanthimos returns for a dark and disturbing film about revenge and consequences. Cardiologist Steven Murphy (Colin Farrell) has an odd relationship with a young boy Martin (Barry Keoghan), helping out the boy but lying to his family. It is later revealed that he was responsible for Martin's father's death during a surgery that Steven may have been drinking prior to performing. Martin starts to insinuate more into Dr. Murphy's life as he receives presents, shows up at his work uninvited, and eventually receives an invitation from his family. Steven's wife Anna Murphy (Nicole Kidman) is welcoming to the strange boy but Martin has a bad influence on Steven's two kids Kim (Raffey Cassidy) and Bob (Sunny Suljic). Martin tries to return the favor by inviting Steven over to his house but when his mother (Alicia Silverstone) starts to flirt with him.

The film takes a sinister turn when Bob cannot use his legs and no medical tests reveal what is wrong with him. Martin drags Steven out of the hospital room and informs him that each one of his family members will exhibit the symptoms: loss of use of their legs, loss of appetite, bleeding from the eyes, and death. Martin explains that since he lost a member of his family, Steven must lose one of his family members. The symptoms will progress and worsen unless Steven chooses one member of his family to die. Steven is dismayed but skeptical of Martin's claim and tries to make Bob eat but his son refuses. They continue to run tests but the doctors are convinced it is psychological. Steven tries to push Bob to walk but has no luck. Meanwhile, Martin has struck up a romantic relationship with Kim. 

Kim starts to exhibit symptoms after she collapsing during choir practice. She is able to walk a little bit trying to catch a glimpse of Martin from her hospital room. She stops eating too and Steven confesses to Anna about what Martin said. Anna investigates the operation herself speaking with the anesthesiologist Matthew (Bill Camp) and offering him a sexual favor for files about the operation. Anna confronts Steven about his past drinking but Steven refuses to admit that he is at fault. As the kids come home, Steven takes matters into his own hands by kidnapping Martin and keeping him tied up down in their basement. Steven tortures Martin to make him stop his family's suffering but Martin refuses even making a display of his dedication by biting a huge chunk of skin out his arm. 

The situation worsens when Bob starts to bleed from his eyes. As Martin threatened Steven's whole family, there is a lot of suspense about Anna finally exhibiting symptoms but she continues to stand and walk around fine. Bob and Kim struggle to prove that they deserve to live while Kim offers to sacrifice herself. Anna allows Martin to go free so Steven must make an awful choice. The climax has Steven blindfolding himself after tying up his family around the living room. He spins around and shoots hoping to randomly take out one of his family members. He finally stops when he shoots Bob and kills him. The film ends with the family sitting in the diner while Martin watches them.

The Killing of a Sacred Deer is a terrifying and confusing film. All of the characters have a strange way of talking which creates a wild atmosphere that allows the odd scenario play out in a believable manner in this world. The shots are impressive and the mounting terror keeps the film constantly entertaining. I was not sure what to expect when I decided to see this film but I found it quite shocking and somewhat disturbing in an enjoyable way. There is a solid cast with Farrell returning for another Lanthimos film and Kidman adding her skill this indie gem. Based on a Greek play that I am almost totally unfamiliar with, the film posits an interesting scenario of an impossible situation.  

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