The Killing of a Sacred Deer

Sophie’s Cop-Out

You will vacillate between boredom and mild annoyance!
Reported on 9th of November, 2017

Having a child justifies anything, including killing children. But what if, The Killing of a Sacred Deer seems to ask, you wanted to kill your children?

Sorry, I’m making that film sound potentially interesting. What if, The Killing of a Sacred Deer seems to ask, you had filmmakers that hated and wanted to kill children and didn’t know they were making a film about that? Less like a film to talk about, than a crayon scrawl requested by a psychiatrist from one of their patients.


k. Yorgos Lanthimos follows up The Lobster, one of the best of last year, with what will undoubtedly the worst of this. Hateful and ineptly made, the story of choosing which of your children to kill can never be a good film. It contains barely an act, and a choice which is pointlessly ugly, uninteresting by way of how transgressive it thinks it is. It’s like something that Hr. Michael Haneke would make and I wouldn’t see.

To win the Abrams, which this film does (though given Split and Lady Macbeth, this is hardly impressive this year) one must be evil and poorly made. Killing kids, not my favorite thing. That’s been covered. What interests me is how bad this film is all by itself.

Two walkouts in an audience of five. And only one would never walk out.

Having successfully created a complete universe in The Lobster, k. Lathimos decides to half-ass it here, which is par for the course, but is absolutely forbidden when dealing with the surreal. The world of TKOASD has a boy (Mr. Barry Keoghan) with psychic powers. But wants so badly to exploit our real world sympathy for children it doesn’t create anything unreal outside of this conceit, making it neither fish nor four-headed foul multi-player.

Surreal worlds are weird, and so require consistent rules, or the whole delicate mess falls apart. To explain: Mr. Keoghan is going to kill Mr. Colin Farrell’s kids in a horrible protracted way unless Mr. Farrell kills one of them himself. This is because everyone involved with this despicable piece of shit secretly hates kids and wants them to die horribly.

I mean for revenge. Because the character wanted revenge. Where did that even come from?

Anyway, as we limp towards the end, with Mr. Ferrell forced-comically spinning around to shoot either one of his kids or his wife (Ms. Nicole Kidman), we realize that this was an option all along, that Ms. Kidman could sacrifice her life for her kids, and just, I don’t know, didn’t feel like it. Sophie’s cop-out.

It may seem odious that we depict a parent who would save their own skin over their children, but the idea of a parent who would do this (and there are parents like that out there) is rich material – Justified did a brilliant job with this theme.

TKOASD just fumbles here, introducing the parent being killed as an option at the end, but vaguely also at the beginning, not seeming to know what the rules are, or just afraid to introduce it for fear of not being about to show children suffering on screen for another minute.

In the end, the film best demonstrates the importance of time, as in taking some to write. People like Mr. Woody Allen and the Brothers Coen follow the ethos of one-a-year-and-some-will-be-good. That works for them. But what’s missing here in this film is slightest glimmer of an accidental reflection of a spark. The Lobster was bursting with ideas and gags and characters, almost too many. This film is soft, tepid and unfinished. Or, as Mr. Allen would have it, ‘I know, and such long and uninteresting portions!’

The Take

The dog didn’t die. I can’t believe the dog didn’t die. I must really like dogs, ’cause I’m giving that…
Total Profits
I’ve had my rant, and in retrospect, the film was interesting to write about. But honestly, the experience of watching it is as dull as already dried paint. You will vacillate between boredom and mild annoyance!
Total Losses


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