The Killing of a Sacred Deer

Killing of a Sacred Deer

Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos is not known for holding things back. Two of his best-known works, the disturbingly indescribable Dogtooth and the darkly engaging satire on relationships The Lobster, feature intense and unpleasant premises yet are entirely, in their own twisted way, very purposeful. That last trait is what’s missing from his latest work, The Killing of a Sacred Deer, which while it has the usual dark absurdist quality to it, finds it hard to justify its existence as anything more than an excessive experiment in perversity.

Deer, in which a surgeon and his wife have to punishingly endure the sudden and bizarre partial paralysis of their children (and it gets much worse from there), is less about plot, reason or meaning. The things that happen in the film cannot be explained because they don’t stand up to the scrutiny of logic. In this way, it is similar to some aspects of what was first explored in Lobster, but far less allegorical and more deliberately hollow, in the manner that was perfected by the works of the perennial king of feel-bad films Michael Haneke. As a social satire, it doesn’t work because the deadpan, bewildered form of dialogue delivery that engaged so well previously seems lobotomized here in the face of darkly sinister plot that is cruel for the sake of being cruel.

Despite defying any form of normal classification, the closest trait that can be attributed to the film is that it is a twisted, macabre revenge-horror. Any film from that strange combo genre has two defining qualities to it – the reason for the revenge and the manner in which it takes place. Here the latter is metaphysical – it happens simply because the director wants it to. This inexplicability reduces everything that we sit and endure to an unbearably cruel experience, one that is relentlessly grim without respite. In other words, it all feels like a crass and depraved exercise without any sort of catharsis. Watch at your own peril.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆


About Faizan Rashid

A veteran Dubai based film critic, Faizan has been reviewing movies for nearly a decade. His work has been published in local newspapers such as 7days and on prestigious online websites such as MSN Arabia and