The Killing  of a Sacred Deer – Image courtesy of the Telegraph

Wilfred Moeschter: Hey everyone, Wilf here. Molly and I saw The Killing of a Sacred Deer, along with a friend of mine who we’ll call Adam and who will be our guest reviewer.

Adam: What the fuck was that movie!?

Molly Simpson: It was, among many things, actually my most anticipated movie of the year! The Killing of a Sacred Deer is the latest film from Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos, who’s best known for directing last year’s The Lobster, which is one of my favourite movies of the past five years. I couldn’t wait to see what Lanthimos was going to do next.

As was the case with mother!, I went into this knowing what the premise was. Molly didn’t, and once again, we wanted to see whether Deer was worth going into blind (Hey, it’s almost like we have some sort of consistent review method that we can start using intentionally!).

It is worth it. When I’m excited for a movie, I do everything I can to avoid knowing anything, so when my mom asked me what Deer was about, all I could say was “there’s this teenage boy, and a surgeon, and it’s creepy” and I wasn’t wrong. While Deer doesn’t have a crazy twist, I think it’s good to enter it without judgements. Because of this, we won’t give much more away than “teen boy, surgeon, creepy” – just know that the movie raises interesting ethical questions about family, choice, and blame.

Agreed. I encourage you to experience this film blind – ONCE!! If you choose to rewatch it, I’ll be afraid of being around you. I was looking at my watch throughout the final act, not because I wanted it to end, but because I was scared of what was to come, given the time remaining.

I was surprised it was only two hours! The movie feels long because it covers so much territory in such a short period of time, but I was still completely engrossed the whole time.

Lanthimos lured me in with a false sense of confidence. For most of Deer, I felt a trust in him that I was safe from jumpscares and unfairly jarring images. The only thing I had to be worried about was the fate of the characters. It was almost nice…

The performances and dialogue are very interesting because they consist of a lot of emotionless non-sequiturs: the film opens with a dull conversation about watch straps – something brought up throughout the movie without any real purpose. All of the dialogue is very matter-of-fact and because of that, it is almost shocking.

For me, the emotionless dialogue and acting made all of the characters seem soulless and, in a way, added some tranquility.

Someone asks Colin Farrell how his daughter is, and he replies, “she started menstruating last week.” Nobody is surprised by this. Even though the film is clearly set in modern-day New York, there’s something about it that seems as though it’s an alternate universe.

This was also the source of most of the humour: it was like Lanthimos and Efthymis Filippou [the other screenwriter] let a third-grader loose on the script’s final draft. Ridiculous deadpanned lines like “your son told me that you’ve got lots of hair under your arms, three times more than I do” caused constant waves of awkward laughter (my personal favourite was “I won’t let you leave until you’ve tried my tart!”).

“Third-grader” seems unfair. I understand the joke you’re trying to make but I think there’s something impactful about the way these actors deliver their lines. It also allows each of the performers to really shine when they finally do get to show some emotion, and everyone in this film is absolutely incredible. Nicole Kidman and Colin Farrell play off each other beautifully as husband and wife – there’s a scene between them in their kitchen that I still think about it (and proved Nicole Kidman is still killing it!). The young performers are equally amazing, especially Barry Keoghan as Farrell’s creepy teenage friend Martin – he delivers every line matter-of-factly despite the audience knowing it to be untrue, making it even more disturbing.

The soundtrack apparently features pieces by György Ligeti, who is famous for using atonality and micropolyphony. I won’t get bogged down with technical terms – it was mostly screechy violins and (unexpectedly) percussive, angry accordion with some dramatic timpani rolls thrown in. Very creepy and VERY effective.

Oh, the soundtrack added to the horror of the film so, so well. Deer is scary because you don’t know what these people are going to do, but you also don’t know what you would do in the same situation.

I’m glad that the events of Deer will only ever exist on-screen because I can’t bear to imagine living through them. When the film builds towards its climax, the characters’ soullessness stops being reassuring and reveals how fucked up they are. It really hits you all at once. 

I would note that Wilf and I disagreed on how depraved some of the characters are – I think the ethics get murky at best.

Hiding behind the mundane dialogue is brutal heartlessness, which quickly makes way for agonizingly well-placed gore and just general depravity… What’s beautiful is that nothing needs to be explained, no matter how surreal. Whatever happens is taken unnaturally coolly by the characters, and this makes their decisions that much more disturbing.

Wilfred, you’re banned from picking movies. That privilege has been taken away.

I agree – but mostly because I want to keep picking the movies we see.

We were equally responsible for this choice and you know it!

And I’m not disappointed that you wanted to see this so badly! It’s a movie that I will be thinking about for a long time, and despite Wilf’s apparent judgement it’s probably one that I will watch again.

Sweet, looks like we’re never hanging out again.

The Killing of a Sacred Deer is an art film and a psychological horror film, and it’s definitely not for everyone. However, it’s beautifully shot, written, and acted and I think that’s worth seeing.

All in all, I’m going to say this is a good movie. In my opinion, it boils down to this: How shitty and messed up can a human become when forced to make a horrifying decision? The answer: extremely. The ending sums this up perfectly and it’s almost funny in how tragic it is. Once the credits started, the theater was divided up into two factions: The laughers (because crying and curling up into fetal position were the only other options for us) and the stunned silence-ers.

And the people who tried to pretend they weren’t legitimately mad at Wilf for choosing this fucking movie, so ME.

Adam and I escaped the pouring rain. He stood silently in the middle of the subway car with a thousand-yard stare, and I made my decision on Deer: go watch it, and sorry.  

Justice League is out. Why didn’t we see that instead?

Final rating: Even better than Martin’s favourite movie Groundhog Day.

Final rating: aaaaaAAAaaAaaAAaaAAAAAaAaaAa

Final rating:

Thanks for reading, and catch us in the February issue of the Herald, where we’ll review… something else!

Cliffhanger. Exciting.

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