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The Killing of a Sacred Deer

There's not a scene in this film that isn't visually and audibly disturbing. The Killing of a Sacred Deer (2017) left me feeling psychologically violated. Directed by Yorgos Lanthimos, the film stars Colin Farrell, Nicole Kidman, and Barry Keoghan and follows a family of four and their eventual ruination at the hands of a freaky teenage boy named Martin (Keoghan). I experienced some of the same discomfort triggered by Lanthimos's 2009 film Dogtooth—also about a family stuck in an off-kilter cinematic world reminiscent of works by Atom Egoyan, M. Night Shyamalan, and David Lynch, and with a swelling, engine-revving sound effect (like the one in Blade Runner) to raise your anxiety. The Killing takes dark humor to a darker place and isn't easy to watch. The performances are stellar though, and Keoghan nailed his part, showing talent on par with that of a young Joaquin Phoenix in, for example, To Die For (1995). Effective is a better word than good to describe The Killing. I wouldn't watch it again. No, no. But it is one of the best horror films I've seen in a long while. Lanthimos has done something different here, again. Proving, again, he's among the master auteurs of our time.


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