The Watchers

The Watchers

Friday, 3 November 2017

Review: The Killing Of A Sacred Deer (UK Cert 15)

SPOILER WARNING! This review discusses and/or mentions a few important plot points. If you would prefer not to have these spoiled, please stop reading now and come back once you've seen the film.

Dr. Stephen Murphy (Colin Farrell) is a successful cardiologist with a beautiful wife called Anna (Nicole Kidman) and two beautiful children called Kim and Bob (Raffey Cassidy and Sunny Suljic), a beautiful house and- as we keep being told- beautiful hands. He also has a secret: he's been spending time with Martin (Barry Keoghan), a strange teenager who has a link to Stephen's past. When Martin starts to impose his way further and further into Stephen's life, Stephen is forced into a terrible decision.  

I sometimes wonder whether I've seen the same film as other people, especially if it's been praised immensely highly. Here are some of the superlatives that have been given to The Killing Of A Sacred Deer: 'intense, powerful and unsettling', 'venomously funny', 'truly staggering', 'Colin Farrell is perfect', 'one of the finest performance of Nicole Kidman's career'. These are on the poster to advertise the film and some of them are from reputable newspapers. I tend to ignore reviews (because ultimately it's all subjective) but, if I'd been swayed by any of these comments to sit through this tremendous load of old crap, I'd be feeling massively shortchanged. 

Let me unpack some of these statements. 'Intense, powerful and unsettling' (two out of three ain't bad; definitely intense and definitely unsettling- all the characters seem damaged or messed-up in one way or another); 'venomously funny' (I don't think I laughed once); 'truly staggering' (yes, it is staggering; staggering that this film is getting such fulsome praise); 'Colin Farrell is perfect' (he really isn't); 'one of the finest performance of Nicole Kidman's career' (it really isn't; she was better in Batman Forever).

I don't know what irked me more: the fact that everyone seems to speak in a fairly even, dull monotone even in moments where you think they'd be showing some emotion (only twice do either Stephen or Anna break down under the strain of the situation), the incredibly discordant and shoddy sound mixing- where portentous tones suddenly blare over scenes- which actually gave me a headache, or the crashingly implausible moves that Stephen makes as the story becomes more and more ludicrous. 

I'm going to get spoilery now because there's no other way to demonstrate exactly how ridiculous I found this film. Aboiut halfway through the film, Bob starts to get ill. At the hospital, Martin tells Stephen he has to kill either Anna, Kim, or Bob to balance the scales from Stephen killing Martin's father in surgery years ago otherwise all three of them will die of a mystery illness that first paralyses theim, makes them stop eating and then bleed from the eyes before they die. The next shot sees Martin being escorted from the hospital by security. At no point do they ever consider calling the police. There's also no explanation of how Martin has made the children ill (because Kim soon succumbs to the paralysis); all medical tests come back negative. It's utterly ridiculous to think that anyone with a scintilla of common sense would go along with the lunatic plan rather than call the teenage psycho out.   

Frankly this decrepit piece of horseshit has already stolen two hours of my life, and I'm loathe to give it any more of my time. There's an interesting idea buried amongst the pretention but writer-director Yorgos Lanthimos doesn't utilise it. A major disappointment.

Rating: 1 out of 5


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