Yorgos Lanthimos’ intensely orchestrated psychological horror The Killing of a Sacred Deer opens with the close-up shot of chest cavity. The open heart throbs in tandem with sombre orchestral music while the camera slowly zooms out.
The visible undulating heartbeat may be an early indication of the constant dread that throbs throughout the narrative.
Lanthimos, the prominent filmmaker of the Greek New Wave, has previously made profound provocative pieces like Dogtooth and The Lobster.
With The Killing of a Sacred Deer, the idiosyncratic filmmaker doubles down on weirdness and shock value.
Cardiologist Steven (Colin Farell) and his wife Anna (Nicole Kidman), an ophthalmologist, lead a sophisticated life with their two adorable children. Their ‘normal’ lives are disturbed by Steven’s acquaintance with Martin (Barry Keoghan). Steven takes the lonely teenager Martin under his wing, after the boy’s father breathed his last at his surgery table. But Martin unleashes a dark force on Steven’s family.
Moving like an unpredictable nightmare, Lanthimos’ unsettling tale has its roots in biblical stories and Greek Tragedy.
Lanthimos’ trademark drollness and stunning eye for composition imparts subdued intensity to the proceedings.
Maybe this film doesn’t have the allegorical acuity of Dogtooth or the weirdness seemed more studied, unlike Lobster. Yet, the director puts us in extreme discomfort with his brilliant assemblage of imagery akin to the works of Michael Haneke and Stanley Kubrick.
Sacred Deer lacks the emotional weight to work as a tragedy, but succeeds in providing a maddening film experience. Go for it!
By Arun Kumar
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An ardent cinephile, who truly believes in the transformative power and shared-dream experience of cinema. He blogs at ‘Passion for Movies.’