TIFF 2017: The Killing Of A Sacred Deer Is An Unclassifiable Shocker

The Killing of a Sacred Deer

Who’s Behind It

Directed by Yorgos Lanthimos, written by Lanthimos and Efthymis Filippou.

Who’s In It

Colin Farrell, Nicole Kidman, Barry Keoghan, Raffey Cassidy, Sunny Suljic, Bill Camp, Alicia Silverstone.

Who’ll Love It

People who like their horror films stylish, surreal, and emotionally loaded.

What’s It About

Heart surgeon Steven Murphy (Colin Farrell) is a happily married man with two kids and a mysterious young friend named Martin (Barry Keoghan). We don’t initially know what brought this unlikely duo together, but Steven soon introduces the 16-year-old to his family and Martin goes even further, trying to instigate an extra-marital affair between his widowed mother and Steven. As Martin’s behaviour gets increasingly peculiar, we realize that he’s plotting to do harm to the doctor’s family for a perceived error that helped bring them together in the first place. As Martin explains it, there is only one thing Steven can do to save (some of) his family: murder one of them himself.

Why You Should See It

Re-teaming The Lobster director Yorgos Lanthimos and Colin Farrell (who delivers another appealingly dry, subdued performance), The Killing of a Sacred Deer gets off to a start that’s no less intriguing or Kubrickian than its predecessor, but whereas that film grew more opaque in its second half, Sacred Deer comes more sharply into focus. Sustaining an impossible Sophie’s Choice-style predicament for roughly half its running time, The Killing of a Sacred Deer is a gruelling high stakes family crisis movie that consistently steers clear of simple solutions. If you’re expecting a normal horror movie built around familiar patterns of dread and suspense, think again. From the outset, this film is drenched in absurdist humour that makes its bleakness more bearable, while also creating a destabilizing awkwardness. Martin’s irrational cruelty channels the dark heart of films like We Need to Talk About Kevin and Funny Games, but the cumulative impact of Lanthimos’ choices is downright unclassifiable.

When You Can See It

Saturday, September 9 at 9PM (Elgin); Sunday, September 10 at 11:15AM (Princess of Wales). Tickets available here. Opens in limited release on October 27. Check out the trailer and the poster below.