The Killing of a Sacred Deer (Yorgos Lanthimos, 2017)

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Professor Wagstaff
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The Killing of a Sacred Deer (Yorgos Lanthimos, 2017)

#1 Post by Professor Wagstaff » Wed Aug 16, 2017 2:02 pm


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Re: The Killing of a Sacred Deer (Yorgos Lanthimos, 2017)

#2 Post by yoshimori » Wed Aug 16, 2017 5:43 pm

If you're going to see the movie regardless -- and I'd recommend you do that; it was my favorite at Cannes -- then I'd suggest avoiding the trailer, as it spoils pretty much all the surprises. [I'm not a "spoiler" freak, btw, and could care less about spoiling blockbusters, but this trailer works against the movie's thrilling tonal evolution.]

Of course, the trailer is fab, but caveat videor.

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Re: The Killing of a Sacred Deer (Yorgos Lanthimos, 2017)

#3 Post by zedz » Wed Aug 16, 2017 6:31 pm

Yeah, the way this film unfolds is extremely deliberate, and there's a lot of profitable play with our expectations and confusion along the way. The main premise of the film (which has probably already been spoiled for most people) doesn't emerge until about an hour in, for example. And as yoshimori suggests, the movie's central trick (maybe even the engine that drives it) is tonal unease. You never know exactly where Lanthimos is heading, what's serious and what's a joke, and how far he's prepared to follow the demented logic of his premise.
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Re: The Killing of a Sacred Deer (Yorgos Lanthimos, 2017)

#4 Post by All the Best People » Fri Oct 27, 2017 4:54 am

Just saw this and am not sure quite what to think of it. The filmmaking is virtuosic -- I mean, the audiovisual style is 85%-95% The Shining, but if you're gonna crib from something, might as well be that. Compelling and intense while watching, if you treat it as the morality play horror film that it is. Strong performances. But after all that, what does it add up to? I'm not sure yet. It took me a day to mull over Nocturama, we'll see how long it takes with this one.

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Re: The Killing of a Sacred Deer (Yorgos Lanthimos, 2017)

#5 Post by dda1996a » Fri Oct 27, 2017 5:12 am

Try watching it back to back with The Florida Project... I think the film is basically that, which is its greatest virtue and worst offense. I though Lanthimos was going somewhere with the female/male of the younger boy but sadly that didn't go somewhere, but there is also a very clear combination of theater of the absurd and classical Greek tragedies. If you take the film at that angle it is a fun if morbid comedy horror. I still find this more successful than The Lobster (which I liked) because Lanthimos really keeps us on edge. Also seeing this, in a packed festival theater added to the experience.
So I think if the film is taken as a Ionesco horror it works really well

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Re: The Killing of a Sacred Deer (Yorgos Lanthimos, 2017)

#6 Post by Black Hat » Fri Oct 27, 2017 11:28 am

I'd agree with the filmmaking being virtuosic with a heavy nod to The Shining and I'd even say Solaris, I'd also agree in wishing the boy/girl relationship was explored more.

As I sat there watching this I was really into it, thinking yes!, I'm finally I'm on board with something Lanthimos is doing (I detested The Lobster) — I can't wait to see this again — but the more time passes (haven't seen it again) the more negative my reaction has become. I don't find Lanthimos to be a particularly authentic or intelligent storyteller, in a sense he's anti-story which is totally fine but then you've got to bring something else extraordinary to the table. The visuals here were great, but all recycled. He hit the right note as far as mood, which works while you're watching it but upon reflection mood without substance behind it loses its importance. The most clever part of this was his use of sound, one* in particular that happened a few times that made me laugh because it's just so fucked up.

Lanthimos seems to come to his work having an idea or a point he wants to get across and then repeating it in the most banal, absurd ways possible to the point of comedy... 'I'm laughing at this but I'm not sure if I should'. There's no real point to his work, he's not clever, nor is he a master troll like say Lars Von Trier.

The other thing that gets me about him is how he has his characters all speak like they're glazed over, like what on earth would make a director think having actors deliver lines this way is cool or want to make it his 'thing'? Howard Hawks is rolling over in his grave.

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i couldn't stop laughing at the sound of the kids falling

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Re: The Killing of a Sacred Deer (Yorgos Lanthimos, 2017)

#7 Post by dda1996a » Fri Oct 27, 2017 12:31 pm

I vehemently disagree. Yes I have yet to truly be taken away by Lanthimos (but then I haven't seen his Greek films), but he is rather original. You could point the coldness to either Kubrick or Haneke, and while this is closer to Haneke in the dissection of bourgeois, he also adds his own absurd ways (which is why I mentioned Ionesco).
And there is a point to the way the characters speak like that. It's not supposed to sound "realistic" which is the point.
Ionesco's The Bold Soprano I think is a good comparison. The characters talk in such a manner that the point is the utter lack of actual communication, and I felt similarly here that Lanthimos strives to show how the characters here talk about materials and nothing else. Like the watches. Kidman's character even says so when she tells Farrell how can he talk about food when their son is about to die.
I though their way of talk fit the absurd and bourgeois situation and characters

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Re: The Killing of a Sacred Deer (Yorgos Lanthimos, 2017)

#8 Post by criterionoop » Fri Oct 27, 2017 12:44 pm

I think dda1996a hit the nail on the head.

Lanthimos' characters are caught up in these absurd situations, and he examines the ways in which they "communicate" with one another and react to their situation.

In DOGTOOTH - there is the breakdown of communication (the father intentionally altering words).

In ALPS - there is the substitution of communication (the people are meant to stand in for dead loved ones, even those who were terrible people when they were alive).

In THE LOBSTER - there is the idea of intimacy as both something to be reveled and reviled (the hotel wants the people to marry, yet they forbid sexual encounters, while the rebels in the forest detest marriage and forbid any forms of intimacy).

Though I did not personally enjoy KILLING as much as I did THE LOBSTER and DOGTOOTH, it was intriguing to see the familial dynamic - the interactions based a lot on banal conversations and, even the children revealing that they know the familial power dynamics.

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Re: The Killing of a Sacred Deer (Yorgos Lanthimos, 2017)

#9 Post by Black Hat » Fri Oct 27, 2017 12:49 pm

Thanks for the explanation man. I guess using this style of speaking as some sort of commentary on materialism doesn't particularly resonate with me. This is a style that draws attention to itself and I've never been a big fan of that approach.

Now what I am curious about is when you say this film is a 'dissection of bourgeois' what do you mean? I'm asking how that comes thru as a large, overall theme of the film and not bits and pieces like the watch. Also what was bourgeois about the situation? In this area I thought The Lobster worked far better.

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Re: The Killing of a Sacred Deer (Yorgos Lanthimos, 2017)

#10 Post by dda1996a » Fri Oct 27, 2017 12:57 pm

That they are obviously rich and materialistic. It's not just the watch, it's everything about them. The iPod, their feeling of superiority, just compare their lives and even house to Martin. I didn't mean their way of talk specificly comments on materialism, but that it feels connected to that to the way they talk about non sense but never really about their inner selves, as a way of showing their lack of communication. That way if talk just feel ingrained to this universe.
I mean if their talk bothered you, how did you feel about them suddenly unable to walk or eat? Seeing them crawl all over the place for no explicable reason.

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Re: The Killing of a Sacred Deer (Yorgos Lanthimos, 2017)

#11 Post by Black Hat » Fri Oct 27, 2017 1:18 pm

Fair enough, but you found that to be original?
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As far as how I felt about them not being able to walk or eat I thought it was hilarious, the tone deafness, the literal clunkiness of tact was brilliant.

oop - The power dynamics between children was very good, not something I recall being expressed much in that way. As for the communication bit, I get that but do you really need to put characters in these situations to explore that? It seems a bit pretentious for the sake of being pretentious to me.

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Re: The Killing of a Sacred Deer (Yorgos Lanthimos, 2017)

#12 Post by dda1996a » Fri Oct 27, 2017 1:29 pm

What do you mean put them in those situations to explore that? The film isn't just about lack of communication. As I said I found it to be a modern Greek tragedy with morality and catharsis, a retooling of Ionesco and Beckett and their theater of the Absurd, a pitch black comedy about families. I found the film itself to be unique. Sure it takes pieces and influences from different places, but Laminthos remains original in his characters and the world he builds.
Does it even need to be original to work? Look at Tarantino for an example of using various influences into what you may consider new.
I didn't feel that the ending was rewarding, which is where my issues with the film lie. The catharsis of tragedies was sorely lacking, which is why I enjoyed this film but I don't think it's brilliant. I feel like Laminthos didn't really know where to go after the tense killing scene, but I still enjoyed everything until that point.

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Re: The Killing of a Sacred Deer (Yorgos Lanthimos, 2017)

#13 Post by Black Hat » Fri Oct 27, 2017 1:45 pm

criterionoop wrote:Lanthimos' characters are caught up in these absurd situations, and he examines the ways in which they "communicate" with one another and react to their situation.
Well I was responding to this.

My original comment was in reference to what you said earlier calling him original and no of course not a film doesn't need to be original to work.

About the ending
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I'm having trouble remembering it, this was at the diner, with the french fries and the ketchup yeah?

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Re: The Killing of a Sacred Deer (Yorgos Lanthimos, 2017)

#14 Post by dda1996a » Fri Oct 27, 2017 4:14 pm

I didn't see criterionoop's comment. Yeah that the last scene. I mean I get what he tries to show, but I found it a rather weak ending

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Re: The Killing of a Sacred Deer (Yorgos Lanthimos, 2017)

#15 Post by Magic Hate Ball » Sat Oct 28, 2017 1:03 am

This is a good movie but there's a lot of unnecessary withholding of information under the guise of mysteriousness, which is really grating. It's the movie equivalent of someone saying "guess what" and then actually making you guess - after four or five tries you just want to shake them and yell "I don't care! Just tell me so we can move on!"

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Re: The Killing of a Sacred Deer (Yorgos Lanthimos, 2017)

#16 Post by mfunk9786 » Mon Nov 13, 2017 12:04 pm

As someone who loved Dogtooth and really disliked The Lobster, I hoped that maybe every once in a while, a new Lanthimos film would still be able to make an impact on me. And maybe it will! But boy, The Killing of a Sacred Deer was not that film.

There's something to be said for slow, deliberate art films and the impact that a well made one can have. The recent film that shares the most DNA with this one, Caché, was carefully paced and withholding of information about the past of the protagonist in the same ways, but it did not waste any of the viewer's time in the ways that Lanthimos does here. He and his co-screenwriter have an excellent if bizarre idea to work with, and go through the first half or so of the film with a satisfying slow burn, revealing the realities of what we're seeing piece by piece until the terrifying scenario is laid out for us. And then it is thuddingly, frustratingly out of ideas, winding up and down a number of narrative dead-ends and cliches* until it ends without any surprises, without anything new or exciting to show us. Thankfully it contains an outrageously good performance by Barry Keoghan, who has an almost deranged quality to him, putting the viewer ill at ease from the moment he's on screen. But the other actors (particularly the children) are asked to play their parts in a sallow, sullen daze, and when you've got a narrative that's totally undercooked, it's pretty unforgivable to withhold even the enjoyment of some exciting performances in favor of Lanthimos' preferred milieu of lifeless characters, slowly bubbling in his petri dish.

*
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The capture of Martin feels like more of a time-filler than anything, since it has (as he points out) absolutely no possibility to impact the situation at hand. Anna's slow unraveling of the truth behind Steven's surgery record is also just there to pad the runtime, replete with the cliche of cliches of a "you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours" handjob scene. She must not have had it in her to do the dead-legged routine that the children did, because despite the threat, Nicole Kidman never winds up losing feeling in her legs despite what feels like ages going by in the meantime as the children get worse. The ending is a huge nothing-burger, with Steven doing something he has no way out of doing in the most bizarrely faux-shocking fashion possible, aping something like Funny Games without any of the nauseating visceral impact of that film. The Haneke influences are all over this thing, but Lanthimos never has plot reasons for them the way Haneke does.

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Re: The Killing of a Sacred Deer (Yorgos Lanthimos, 2017)

#17 Post by swo17 » Mon Nov 13, 2017 12:25 pm

mfunk9786 wrote:
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Anna's slow unraveling of the truth behind Steven's surgery record is also just there to fill out the runtime, replete with the cliche of cliches of a "you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours" handjob scene.
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I think this, as well as the scene where she reasons that he should choose one of the children because they can always have another one, are meant to make you "root" for her as the one deserving of death, not to mention that this would free Steven up to combine families with Martin and his mom, which Martin clearly wants. That scene also alludes to this not being Anna's first infidelity, but Steven is evidently blind to all of this. This blindness and the bleeding from the eyes is all straight out of Greek mythology, specifically Agamemnon. I do kind of wish that the climactic scene had ended with Steven making a conscious choice after a few failed spins, to show where his sympathies truly lied. But perhaps the point being made here has something to do with his utter indecisiveness.

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Re: The Killing of a Sacred Deer (Yorgos Lanthimos, 2017)

#18 Post by mfunk9786 » Mon Nov 13, 2017 12:35 pm

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Considering the glimpses we get of their sex life, I certainly wouldn't begrudge Anna some infidelities.

It's funny that you were able to write a more compelling ending to the film in that spoiler box than the one we get... were Steven shown to be attracted to Martin's mother in some way earlier in the film, his making a conscious decision to murder Anna and merge the two families would have been some eerie stuff indeed, and I think it would have elevated this to another level from a narrative perspective too. Perhaps I'm alone in this though, but I got absolutely no impression that Anna was ever going to be the one that Steven chose to murder.
At least this film has that really great moment in the cafeteria of the hospital with Martin, and the one in his home with Anna - that performance is totally chilling in its mundanity, and easily The Killing of a Sacred Deer's standout component. And I really got a kick out of Steven's meeting with the school's guidance counselor, too. Lanthimos is obviously a massive talent, and I'll keep trying.

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Re: The Killing of a Sacred Deer (Yorgos Lanthimos, 2017)

#19 Post by bdsweeney » Sat Nov 18, 2017 9:13 pm

I echo the general dissatisfaction that most board members had with this film.

For a while the film had me unnerved, but it never eventuated into a satisfying conclusion. (Yes, the alternative ending suggested earlier in the board would have been better.)

While the film provided chills, I’m sure there’s a dozen or so other less ‘artful’ films from this year that could have done the same thing and less ponderously and more economically (in all senses of the word).

However, I agree that Barry Keoghan’s performance is terrific.

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Re: The Killing of a Sacred Deer (Yorgos Lanthimos, 2017)

#20 Post by Lost Highway » Sun Feb 18, 2018 8:30 am

It’s clear that Lanthimos has seen plenty of Kubrick, Lynch and Polanski and that‘s clearly what he is aiming at. Because he wears his influences on his sleeve, this lacks an individual vision, which of course is the appeal of the masterpieces by the directors I’ve mentioned. The thing which really got on my nerves was to have characters mentioning inappropriate things about their or other‘s bodies and then clumsily repeating that gag over and over. That’s just, you know, so weird and disturbing! I’d skipped The Lobster because I hated Dogtooth but I was intrigued by some of the things I read about this. Nothing to see here and I think that’s it for me and Lanthimos.
Last edited by Lost Highway on Sun Feb 18, 2018 11:31 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: The Killing of a Sacred Deer (Yorgos Lanthimos, 2017)

#21 Post by Lars Von Truffaut » Sun Feb 18, 2018 11:07 am

I too noticed the way Lanthimos wore his influences and it is one of the main reasons the film was the weakest I've seen from him. It's especially unfortunate because it came on the heels of his best, The Lobster. It's a different animal altogether and I'd encourage you to seek it out. The Lobster ranking #3 on our 2016 Consensus thread should give you some hope that there are many pleasures to be found, unlike your experience with The Killing of a Sacred Deer. If you don't like it, by all means avoid Lanthimos like the plague. But I (and I'm sure many others on the forum) would look forward to your thoughts and impressions, regardless of whether it becomes a favorite or is the last straw.

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Re: The Killing of a Sacred Deer (Yorgos Lanthimos, 2017)

#22 Post by djproject » Thu Feb 22, 2018 12:38 pm


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Re: The Killing of a Sacred Deer (Yorgos Lanthimos, 2017)

#23 Post by Toby Dammit » Wed Apr 18, 2018 12:13 pm

Lost Highway wrote:It’s clear that Lanthimos has seen plenty of Kubrick, Lynch and Polanski and that‘s clearly what he is aiming at.
I'd agree with the filmmaking being virtuosic with a heavy nod to The Shining and I'd even say Solaris, I'd also agree in wishing the boy/girl relationship was explored more.
I watched the movie yesterday

I think the strongest influence in the movie is Pasolini's Teorema
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1.- The "visitor" who arrives to destroy every single member of a upper-middle-class family
2.- That new presence has some kind of supernatural power. Is God? an Exterminating Angel? Lucifer?
3.- Make the sacred visible through everyday reality
4.- In the same way of Pasolini, here the characters always seem to be slightly removed from contemporary world or reality: repetitive phrases, absurd actions, meaningless behavior...
5.- The daughter -here the son too- goes into a catatonic trance at some moment
6.- Sexual advances with members of the family

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Re: The Killing of a Sacred Deer (Yorgos Lanthimos, 2017)

#24 Post by Lost Highway » Wed Apr 18, 2018 1:06 pm

I don’t care how many influences or what his film is the closest to. What I did mean was unlike the films he cribs from, Lanthimos‘ films are thoroughly shallow exercices in wannabe weirdness.

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Re: The Killing of a Sacred Deer (Yorgos Lanthimos, 2017)

#25 Post by moreorless » Thu Apr 26, 2018 6:52 am

I would actually say that the most individual aspect of Lanthimos is not in his visuals that here especially do obviously wear there influences on their sleeves but rather in the actors performances, that is his style of deadpan style that's used for both comic effect and to create a sense of extreme isolation. In his last two films especially I think you clearly get the sense that the characters do exist on a deeper level but are trapped in a world were only the most glib bourgeoisie verbal interaction is possible.

If theres an influence here I would argue its perhaps British comedian Chris Morris's more absurdist works such as Blue Jam.

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