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Review: The Killing of a Sacred Deer

A bizarre but brilliant psychological horror

If you’ve seen Yorgos Lanthimos’ last film, The Lobster, you will be well prepared for The Killing of a Sacred Deer. That’s not to say that the two films are similar in content—because Lobster is a dark comedy/drama, and Sacred Deer is a horror/mystery—but rather that Lanthimos’ auteur style is on full display: The film is a slow burn, characters speak in monotone voices to add to the uncanniness of their world, there are a number of dolly shots that give a strange smoothness to the film, and there is an inevitability that pervades every scene from the opening shot.

Also like Lobster, Sacred Deer stars Colin Farrell, who has become exactly the type of actor that allows a Lanthimos film to thrive. Alongside him are Nicole Kidman and Barry Keoghan—of Dunkirk fame—in a plot that sees Farrell’s character, a surgeon named Steven, tormented by Keoghan’s character, a boy named Martin, in the most bizarre of ways that ultimately forces Steven to make a sacrifice greater than he ever could have imagined.

While perhaps not quite as niche as Lobster, Sacred Deer will likely still leave audiences divided. What isn’t divisive is the quality of the film—it’s tense, unnerving, and will keep feeding you delicious bits and pieces, asking you to stay even while you’re desiring liberation from its absurdity.

And you know what? The stay is worth it.

Joshua Howe

Joshua Howe is a writer and editor hailing from the small town of Kincardine, Ontario. He is a published author, poet, and sportswriter.