From just the trailer I knew The Killing of a Sacred Deer was going to be a different kind of horror movie. We see a child collapsing, failing to walk, and collapsing again. A girl crawls down a flight of stairs. A boy pulls his lower half along a hardwood living room floor. A surgeon acknowledges he was unable to save a psychologically disturbed boy’s father. A revenge story, then. I feel sickly after I watch it.
See for yourself:
The plot revolves around a surgeon, his family, and a boy whose father recently died. At first the surgeon’s friendship with the boy seems positive. He seems to be mentoring him and helping him deal with the loss of his father. But the boy is dark. Troubled. And then the surgeon’s family begins to experience a mysterious illness that causes their legs to go numb, rendering them paralyzed. That’s when the boy reveals his secret and gives the surgeon a gruesome choice.
The Killing of a Sacred Deer comes in through a side door. It doesn’t promise or deliver jump scares or a barbarian killer with a knife hulking toward the screen. Rather than scary, it’s unsettling. It gets under your skin and dares you to start to scratch.
What’s so compelling about this movie is how… odd it is. There’s no warmth. You might think you’re at a table read until you remember that this is how some people really live — a scary and unsettling fact in its own right. Even the way this kid eats spaghetti is just egregiously weird. The movie’s quality of being close to reality and serious in tone but just a little hollow throws you off-kilter, distracted from the impending bombshell that comes halfway through the film.
Modeled on the Greek tragedy Iphigenia at Aulis by Euripides (spoiler alert if you decide to click through), The Killing of a Sacred Deer is co-written and directed by four-time Oscar nominated director/writer Yorgos Lanthimos. It won best screenplay at Cannes when it came out. Colin Farrell and Nicole Kidman star. Why aren’t you watching this movie yet??
The Killing of a Sacred Deer is currently streaming on Netflix.