The Killing of a Sacred Deer
Dr. Steven Murphy is a renowned cardiovascular surgeon who presides over a spotless household with his wife and two children. Lurking at the margins of his idyllic suburban existence is Martin, a fatherless teen who insinuates himself into the doctor’s life in gradually unsettling ways. Soon, the full scope of Martin’s intent becomes menacingly clear when he confronts Steven with a long-forgotten transgression that will shatter his domestic bliss forever.
Now, this was certainly a different sort of movie, unlike any I’ve ever seen before, to be honest. I can understand why this film may not be to everyone’s taste. Definitely, there will be many who will not like this at all, and just as many who will clearly not understand anything that’s going on. I’ve always been a huge fan of horror and art-house films, and an even bigger fan of Mythology, especially Norse and Greek. So, you can probably guess my surprise the first time I heard the title of this film, and of course, I did wonder if the movie and Greek mythology were going to connect in some way. And to my joy, they did. The Killing of a Sacred Deer is completely filled with symbolism, and I hope that I will be able to shed a little light on what I got out of it so that you can absorb, understand, and enjoy it much more.
In Greek Mythology, Agamemnon, who was the son of King Atreus, was a commander in the Greek armed forces during the Trojan War. One day Agamemnon accidentally kills a sacred deer in the majestic grove of the goddess, Artemis. Angered, Artemis punishes him by manipulating the winds so that his ships would not be able to sail to Troy during the Trojan War. It is later revealed to Agamemnon that in order to appease Artemis, he must sacrifice his eldest daughter, Iphigenia – blood for blood. Agamemnon angrily refuses at first, but with insistent pressure building from the other commanders, devastated, he agreed, and therefore his daughter was killed. The tale in itself is completely metaphorical and brings forth an interpretation of just how our mistakes affect others around us and teach people a lesson of revenge and justice. It’s a very symbolic film that is not only powerful but dark and graphic as well.
The movie is basically a dark psychological thriller about revenge and justice in the cruelest of ways. I might mention that it’s a bit slow in the beginning but that’s not a bad thing, as it’s building up the storyline and inner mysteries of the characters, so you’re really not certain what’s going on yet or what’s to come. In fact, I found that by the slow build, it gave the characters somewhat of a lifeless, robotic feel as you grasp to understand and relate to them, but trust me, that is a dreadful feeling. It’s just, so…matter-of-fact, and that was beginning to creep me out. You’ll understand more once you get to the ending of the movie. All of the actors did a fantastic job, especially the child actors. It was hard watching them at times, as the entire family seems so unreal, so inhuman, so emotionless. Can we say Stepford Family here?.
The movie a basically dark psychological thriller, and it’s about revenge, and justice in the cruelest of ways. I might mention that it’s a bit slow in the beginning but that’s not a bad thing, as it’s building up the storyline and characters, so you’re really not certain what’s going on yet or what’s to come. In fact, I found that by the slow build, it gave the characters somewhat of a lifeless, robotic feel as you grasp to understand and relate to them, but trust me, that is a dreadful feeling. It’s just, so…matter-of-fact, and that was beginning to creep me out. You’ll understand more once you get to the ending of the movie. All of the actors did a fantastic job, especially the child actors. It was hard watching them at times, as the entire family seems so unreal… so inhuman… so emotionless. Can we say Stepford Family here?
The movie takes place in Cincinnati, Ohio, where Steven, who is a surgeon, lives with his wife Anna and their two kids. It’s obvious from the beginning that Steven also has this strange fascination with a teenage boy named Martin. Martin is not only very odd and creepy as hell, but he also seems to be mentally challenged and a bit unstable. It disturbed me more watching his acting than anyone else’s, in a good way of course. As it turns out, Martin is also the son of a man who died while Steven was operating on him.
Something I found interesting was that Steven completely refused to take the blame in the death of Martin’s father and proclaimed that only the anesthesiologist can kill a patient while in surgery. And then you see the anesthesiologist saying just the opposite, that it’s the surgeon that kills the patient. The film also implies that Steven had a severe drinking problem and had been drinking prior to the surgery. You also get a sense that Steven feels an incredible degree of guilt because he has become some sort of a father-figure to Martin. They honestly seem a little ‘too’ close to my liking if you know what I mean, and that was making me start to wonder about Steven.
If you find yourself beginning to have second thoughts about Steven, then this part will really blow your mind. In one of the scenes, we see both Steven and Anna engaging in some weird sexual act where she poses naked on the bed, arm thrown over the edge and legs slightly parted… as if she lay there dead. Steven is looking at her, not smiling or saying a word, but suddenly he just busts out and starts masturbating before he sits up and starts kissing her. That was my first WTF moment. Very unsettling, but that’s just the type of movie this is.
After being invited to dinner with Steven’s family, Martin’s behavior goes downright creepy and even more disturbing. He proceeds to tell the family that he’s not from a very nice neighborhood. It’s like he’s purposely giving off this bizarre innocence in front of the family in order to make them believe he isn’t very smart or capable of pulling off the things that are about to happen next.
I don’t think we’re meant to know how the events actually happen but can clearly see the message this film suggests about the price we must pay with living life excessively, and of the consequences of thoughtless actions of not wanting to take ownership of careless mistakes. I really do recommend this film to anyone looking for a psychological story with a deadly twist. It is so messed up on so many levels.
Title: The Killing of a Sacred Deer
Release Date: November 3, 2017
Runtime: 2 hours, 1 minute
Genre: Horror, Mystery, Drama
Studio: Lionsgate Films
Starring: Colin Farrell, Nicole Kidman, Alicia Silverstone, Sunny Suljic, Raffey Cassidy
MPAA Rated: R
Directors: Yorgos Lanthimos
Reviewed by: Disturbia
Our Rating: 3.8 /5
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