The Killing of a Sacred Deer Review
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This time of year is filled with surprises. As award season picks up and studios begin battling for award season buzz, you never really know whether a film will turn out to be remarkable or ridiculous. Sometimes you’ll be in for a pleasant surprise…and sometimes you’ll end up with The Killing of a Sacred Deer.

The Killing of a Sacred Deer stars Colin Farrell as Dr. Steven Murphy, a cardiologist with what seems to be the perfect life, the perfect marriage, and the perfect family—until a teenage boy named Martin (Barry Keoghan) works his way into their neat, perfect world. The son of one of Steven’s patients, Martin is still struggling with his father’s death, so Steven takes him under his wing. But Martin’s arrival shakes things up in the family—and soon Steven finds himself struggling to make a difficult decision.

From start to finish, The Killing of a Sacred Deer is an entirely off-putting film. It’s strange and pretentious and altogether awkward. The whole Murphy family is unreal: robotic and eerily candid and woodenly pleasant to everyone around them. They speak unnaturally, with little expression and little intonation. They’re all pretty creepy—but Martin is even creepier.

Still, the strange characters are just the beginning of the film’s awkwardness. Things soon go horribly wrong for Steven and his family, and it seems that Martin might be more than just a goofy teenager; he might actually be a goofy but also quietly sinister teenager who somehow holds the fate of Steven’s family in his hands. And that’s when things get really strange.

At times, it’s hard to tell if the film is trying to be funny—because so much of it is just plain bizarre. On one hand, it smacks viewers upside the head with its simple (though strange) story and its metaphor-filled message. It seems to revel in being different; in fact, it seems to dare audiences not to appreciate it for its sheer cleverness. But it isn’t nearly as clever as it likes to think it is—and it gets so caught up in being artistic that it fails to be anything more than odd and self-important.

Granted, director Yorgos Lanthimos is known for his unusual stories. He has some interesting ideas and his own unique style. But while his latest has a few creative elements, it’s sure to leave audiences feeling cold and confused and discontented.

The Killing of a Sacred Deer is certainly an intriguing film with a talented cast. But it’s also odd and unsettling and unsatisfying—the kind of film that will leave you more frustrated than fascinated.

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