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Killing Of A Sacred Deer – Review (London Film Festival)

Killing Of A Sacred Deer Review (London Film Festival)

The director of divisive satirical comedy The Lobster turns his hand to a family-in-peril thriller, also starring Colin Farrell.

Starring: Colin Farrell, Nicole Kidman, Barry Keoghan, Alicia Silverstone
Director: Yorgos Lanthimos

A surgeon (Farrell) leads a good life with his wife (Kidman) and their two kids. He also maintains a guilt-fuelled friendship with the son (Keoghan, Dunkirk) of someone who died on his operating table. But when he rejects a romantic advance from the boy’s widowed mother, the boy presents him with a supernatural ultimatum: if he doesn’t kill a member of his own family then they will all fall sick and die. As the surgeon delays and tries different tactics to force a retraction, his children start to fall ill just as predicted. Soon he will have to make the ultimate decision…

As in The Lobster (Grade: A-), Greek director Lanthimos has a very distinct dialogue style: All the characters talk like children in adult bodies, without any filter between brain and mouth, presenting any unimportant feeling or observation that pops into their mind. No character can give a wrapped present without announcing what it is before it’s opened. Colin Farrell, who also led The Lobster, performs it perfectly.

This style works terrifically well for a comedy and the first 30 minutes here are hilarious, if you’re tapped into that humour. But, the story then transitions into a thriller and the style really doesn’t mesh. It doesn’t bring any insight or freshness to the genre, and plotwise it ponderously plays outs just as we’re told it will. Those two thirds of the film exist for interpretation (it’s a critique of bourgeois values) rather than enjoyment. Barry Keoghan’s childlike menace would be very effective in another film, but next to everyone else acting the same way it’s significantly diluted.

Grade: C+

The Killing Of A Sacred Deer is released October 27th in the UK, October 20th in the US.

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