The Killing of a Sacred Deer


D: Yorgos Lanthimos

A24/Curzon Artificial Eye/Film 4/New Sparta (Ed Guiney & Yorgos Lanthimos)

Ireland/UK/US 2017

121 mins


W: Yorgos Lanthimos & Efthymis Filippou

DP: Thimios Bakatakis

Ed: Yorgos Mavropsaridis

Colin Farrell (Steven Murphy), Nicole Kidman (Anna Murphy), Barry Keoghan (Martin), Raffey Cassidy (Kim Murphy), Sunny Suljic (Bob Murphy), Alicia Silverstone (Martin's Mother)


Anybody who's seen Yorgos Lanthimos' previous film, The Lobster, would be expecting his latest effort to be equally surreal, and it's probably more so. The Killing Of A Sacred Deer is one of those films which will be enjoyed more the less you know about it, so if you don't wish to have the plot spoiled, now is a good time to stop reading.

The film will make you uncomfortable from its opening moment, a close up of open heart surgery which might leave some audience members immediately reaching for a sick bag. The story then develops with Steven Murphy, a hospital surgeon, and a 16-year-old boy called Martin and their strangely uncomfortable relationship. It later emerged that Steven was the surgeon who operated on Martin's father, who passed away during treatment and Steven feels guilty due to some malpractice on his part.

The uncomfortable relationship between the two of them then becomes even more sinister when Steven's children become sick, and he is told by the strange young man that he must choose which of his family members to sacrifice, or they will all die. A twisted revenge plot which is designed for Steven to experience the pain of losing a beloved relation.

The twisted screenplay features comedy so black, the Coen Brothers will surely look on with envious eyes and the film unravels like one of David Lynch's surrealist nightmares. It's partially a modernisation of Greek myth, but one could also summarise it as Michael Haneke's version of Sophie's Choice.

The film won an award for its screenplay at Cannes Film Festival, and it probably should have received some attention from the Oscars.

The performances from the entire cast are excellent, including Alicia Silverstone, who surprisingly only appears in one scene, but nearly steals the entire movie with it.

This psychological thriller is definitely not for mainstream audiences, but those whose acquired taste it appeals to will most certainly enjoy it.


Barry Keoghan in The Killing of a Sacred Deer
Barry Keoghan in The Killing of a Sacred Deer