Grades for reviews
1 star: A horrible movie that is best forgotten. Take a shower to feel clean after experiencing this crap.
2 stars: An ok movie brought down by some glaring flaws. An ok product that isn’t terrible, but it isn’t good or great either.
3 stars: A good movie, it may not blow you away, but you’ll like it. Just don’t expect it to blow you away.
4 stars: An excellent experience that you shouldn’t miss. Even with a few minor flaws, this is something you need to experience. You will not regret it.
If you want to see a movie that lifts your spirits, makes you want to jump for joy or go running into the streets hugging everyone you meet, well, here is some bad news for ya. The Killing of a Sacred Deer is NOT one of those movies. This is not a movie that will make you feel good after watching it. However, you will feel like you just watched a great movie. Sometimes we need a movie that teaches us a lesson, even if we don’t think we need it.
The story starts off innocent. Steven is a surgeon who meets a young boy named Martin who seems to look up to Dr. Murphy, but things get dark. How dark? You have no idea. This movie can make Titanic look like an episode of Blues Clues. The story does a good job of not sacrificing the integrity of the subject matter. You know how some movies (Hello Get Out), will cop out at the last second just to make the audience happy and feel safe? This movie doesn’t do that. Just when you think, “They won’t, they can’t, they did.” This movie pulls no punches. The story also has enough twists and turns to keep you guessing.
Both Anna and Steven are relatable characters, which makes it easy to care about them. They don’t look like your typical Hollywood couple either. Nicole Kidman, (who is one of the most beautiful women in the world), goes mostly make-up free and it helps make Anna look like your regular working mom instead of a Victoria Secret model. Steven is a nice family man, Colin Ferrell brings humanity to a character who can be a bit cold at times. Martin could’ve used a little more fleshing out, but his character does drive the story and Barry Keoghan does a fantastic job playing Martin with restraint and that makes him an unforgettable character. The main 3 characters have some depth to them making them better than the regular cliche characters.
Do you know who Yorgos Lanthimos is? Don’t feel alone if you don’t. He hasn’t done a lot of big movies. He has done a very polarizing film called Lobster, (which I haven’t seen yet, but I will soon) if this movie is anything to go by, he is a very good filmmaker. Most of the time in horror movies, the camera is kept close, this makes the scares easy to do since you are only seeing what the character sees. But, a few movies such as the Shinning, will use wide angles. Lanthimos does this as well. He uses wide angles brilliantly and it doesn’t take away from the scares. He does a good job with timing and there aren’t any cheap jump scares THANK GOD! Those are way overused and Lanthimos goes for more mental scares with some visceral scares. A lot of the scares are in your head and this makes it all the more terrifying. He also holds shots for a long time. It is no secret that a lot of modern movies love to use quick cuts. Don’t get me wrong, quick cuts can be effective, but some directors (COUGH, Michael Bay), overuse them! Lanthimos doesn’t. Most of the shots are held and this gives scenes a chance to develop and you get to see some great acting from the principal actors.
The screenplay is very well written. Lorgos Lanthimos and Efthimis Filippou did a great job of avoiding some of the cliches in the story. The pacing is a little slow, but not in a bad way. This is meant to build a solid foundation for the characters and you will feel for their pain and suffering. Great job on not overstuffing the plot with twists just for the sake of surprises, but it knows when to bring an extra element to the story to keep it interesting. I would have given this brilliant screenplay a nomination for best screenplay. It’s a shame that it didn’t get one.
This movie isn’t without its flaws. The biggest flaw is the misuse of music. Oh my God! Some of the music is so loud in scenes that didn’t need it. It is so loud that a heavy metal concert called and complained about the noise. This takes a little away from a few scenes that would’ve been much more effective with subtle use of music. Another flaw is Lanthimos holds on a shot a little too long. Steven is performing heart surgery and the shot stays on the heart WAY too long. This 10-second shot is turned into a 2-minute one and it gets a little distracting. I wish some characters got more screen time. One of Steven’s best friends and Murphy’s kids could have used more screen time. Lastly, there is a hole in the plot. It isn’t that bad, but you wish the writers would’ve explained one scene more. I don’t want to give it away, but it makes you wish the writers had given more information on how this was happening.
The Killing of a Sacred Dear is one of the best thrillers I’ve seen in a long time. The stirring performances, engaging plot and incredible direction (how did Lanthimos not get an Oscar nomination)? Will keep you wanting to watch it. In a landscape of cookie-cutter thrillers and play it safe dramas. The Killing of a Sacred Dear goes big and bold with a dark story that doesn’t compromise its premise or the audience’s intelligence. If this is what Lanthimos can do, I want to see more! His knowledge of movies and love of art shines through. If you love good movies, you’ll love this terrific, horrifying and thoughtful thriller.
Review: 4 stars!