Plot: Steven (Colin Farrell) is a cardio-thoracic surgeon with a successful practice, a luxurious lifestyle, and a family to call his own. After one of his patients dies on the table, Steven forges a bond of sorts with the patient’s son, Martin (Barry Keoghan). Martin is quiet, awkward, and seems to need Steven’s approval and attention, which Steven gives him in their periodic meetings. But of late, Martin has been pushing the boundaries of this relationship by showing up the hospital unannounced. In an effort to calm him down, Steven agrees to introduce Martin to his family and have him over for dinner. This in turn leads to Steven going to Martin’s home for a meal, after which Martin’s mom (Alicia Silverstone) becomes aggressive in her attraction toward Steven, though he is able to leave without incident. But as time passes, strange things begin to happen and Steven’s son becomes ill with an unknown condition. Are all of the problems of these people in their heads or is some darker force at work?
Entertainment Value: A dark, awkward, and hilarious experience, The Killing of a Sacred Deer is an odd movie that is likely to confuse, infuriate, or just outright bore some viewers. This is a movie where the characters speak in lifeless cadence about menial topics and seem more interested in minute details than life changing events, as if everyone is drugged with some exotic serum. There is little emotion and when it is present, it feels misguided and motivated by something other than the usual emotional centers, creating an offbeat and foreign atmosphere. As someone who loves awkward, dysfunctional, and off the rails characters and dialogue, I had immense fun with this movie, but I can see how others might not see it as a comedy or find the unsettling texture unpleasant. If taken as a drama, the movie comes off as pretentious, but still an odd, often unnerving experience, so however you interpret the movie, it is one that is likely to stick with you. The performances are stylized, as the material demands and the cast includes Colin Farrell, Nicole Kidman, Bill Camp, Raffey Cassidy, and Barry Keoghan, among others. I appreciated The Killing of a Sacred Deer, as it pushes in some interesting directions and offers a memorable experience, so for fans of unusual and off putting cinema, it is well recommended.
The movie has a couple of interesting sex scenes, as Kidman is fully nude and assumes a lifeless presence, to arouse her husband. This includes breasts, bare ass, and an ever so brief glimpse of full frontal. I also think the scene with the emotionless handjob is one of the funniest moments in the movie. This one has some bursts of violence, such as self harm, gun shot wounds, mild torture, and general abuse, which all seems more intense than it is, since the movie shows so little emotion or kinetic presence otherwise. So the blood volume might be on the low end, but the violence resonates because it is such a strong reaction compared to the rest of the movie. There’s also some real heart surgery footage, if you’re averse to actual medical elements. The dialogue is hilarious to me, but I can see how some wouldn’t appreciate the banal discussions, emotionless conversations, and seemingly random moments. This is the kind of movie where the characters have no social skills whatsoever and that leads to every conversation being awkward and quite unnatural. Even routine banter seems almost otherworldly here, as if mannequins have come to life to talk about body hair or how to eat spaghetti. In other words, I loved this outlandish approach. As for craziness, the movie delivers that constantly awkward dialogue, bizarre, dead inside performances, and a general feeling of unease, which is not an easy thing to accomplish. There’s also oddness to the narrative itself and when it all combines, this is a weird, unsettling experience.
Overall Insanity: 10/10