Director: Yorgos Lanthimos
Cast: Colin Farrell, Nicole Kidman, Barry Keoghan
Runtime: 2 hr 1 min
Rating: M18 (Some Nudity)
Official Website: http://sgiff.com/browse-all-films/killing-sacred-deer/
Opening Day: 29 November 2017 (28th Singapore International Film Festival)
Synopsis: Steven, an eminent cardiologist, finds his fate entwined with Martin, a fatherless 16 year-old. As secrets are revealed, Steven finds himself caught in an eerie web that threatens his wife and two children. But they cannot run from the looming consequence of Steven’s actions and the terror that is to follow. In a modern Greek retelling of the Iphigenia myth, acclaimed director Yorgos Lanthimos serves up signature riddling dialogue that obscures the true nature of the film with a subversive tension, which pulls further and further apart with each revelation. Lenser Thimios Bakatakis’ cold construction of each frame, paired with a distressing Kubrickian score, portends the weight of the catastrophic things to come. With powerful performances from Colin Farrell, Nicole Kidman and newcomer Barry Keoghan, it is a Greek-gothic horror where myths turn into nightmares.
Greek filmmaker Yorgos Lanthimos’s The Lobster (2015) is one of the most bizarre films we have ever subjected ourselves to. The black comedy starred Colin Farrell (Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them) as a single man trying to find someone so he can remain human. Yup, you heard right – his character lives in a dystopian society where single people are given 45 days to find a romantic partner or otherwise be turned into animals.
Two years later, Lanthimos returns with this psychological film that grabs you and never lets go. Based on the ancient Greek play “Iphigenia at Aulis”, Lanthimos pens a screenplay with his co-writer from The Lobster that is absurd, frightening and sad at the same time. The duo was recognised with the Best Screenplay Award at this year's Cannes Film Festival.
Farrell again plays the protagonist. This time, he is a cardiac surgeon who makes friends with a teenage boy and introduces him to his family. A series of unexplained and strange events begin happening. Without giving too much of the plot away, let’s just say there are paralysed people, bleeding eyes and cold, cold revenge.
The 121 minute sees Farrell reuniting with Nicole Kidman, his co star from The Beguiled. The pair portrays a couple who have to make some very painful decisions when things go horribly wrong in the family. Elsewhere, an almost unrecognisable Alicia Silverstone (you thought playing a mother in Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul was a one off thing) has a supporting role as a single mum.
The real star here is 25 year old Barry Keoghan, who first caught our attention in Dunkirk. The Irish actor takes on the challenging role of the teenager who befriends the surgeon. The character seems to have a neurodevelopmental disorder, and is definitely not your average kid. As the story unfolds, you realise that he is up to something, and things turn really ugly. Keoghan’s screen presence is strong, and you can’t take your eyes off his eerily engaging performance.
As the film progresses, you wonder how anyone could come up with a story like this. There is an unshakeable sense of dread as the plot develops. There is nothing to feel good about throughout the two hours, and yet you find yourself being addicted to the brutality of the film. It helps that the production is highly stylised, making use of bleakly mesmerising visuals and a desolately brash soundtrack score to breathtaking effect.
We aren’t sure whether we want to experience another two hours of this frighteningly good film which left us shaken long after the credits rolled.
(This devastatingly striking film is sad and frightening at the same time, and we can’t seem to get it out of our heads)
Reviewed by John Li at the 28th Singapore International Film Festival