Sinister Screens

The Killing of a Sacred Deer (2017) ★★★½

The Killing of a Sacred Deer


Dr. Steven Murphy is a renowned cardiovascular surgeon who presides over a spotless household with his wife and two children. Lurking at the margins of his idyllic suburban existence is Martin, a fatherless teen who insinuates himself into the doctor’s life in gradually unsettling ways.


This review may contain spoilers.

Directed and co-written by the unique and edgy Yorgos Lanthimos, The Killing of a Sacred Deer is a film that’s anything but conventional. It delves into themes of guilt, responsibility, and the consequences of our actions.

The title itself draws from the ancient Greek myth of Iphigenia, where a sacred deer’s death leads to tragic consequences. In the film, Martin (played by Barry Keoghan) seeks revenge for his father’s death during surgery performed by Steven (played by Colin Farrell), a prominent cardiovascular surgeon.

Martin’s vengeance takes on a supernatural quality as he begins to wield a mysterious power over Steven’s family, especially his wife Anna (played by Nicole Kidman) and their children. Steven is given an ultimatum: sacrifice one family member or face dire repercussions for all.

The film is open to interpretation, but many see it as a metaphor for the moral dilemmas faced by those in positions of power, particularly in the medical field. Steven’s detachment from the consequences of his actions is challenged as he confronts the gravity of his choices.

What’s most unsettling about the film is the emotional detachment of its characters. Even in moments of crisis, their reactions are eerily subdued. The dialogue is stark and direct, reflecting a sense of disconnect. Even intimate scenes between Steven and Anna feel cold and distant.

It’s not an easy watch, but The Killing of a Sacred Deer offers a unique and symbolic viewing experience. If you’re up for something unconventional and don’t mind a slow burn, it’s worth diving into.

Rating: ★★★½ (out of 5)

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