Screwed up but critically acclaimed horror The Killing of a Sacred Deer still leaves audiences completely bewildered

There’s a brave new wave of screwed up psychological horror movies out there these days. We’ve moved well beyond understandable horrors and entered an era of mental vivisection in the genre. One of the best 2010s, loved by critics, remains not only divisive but confusing.

2017 Killing a Sacred Deer is the greatest A24 horror film that could ever exist. With a ridiculously good cast including Barry Keoghan, Nicole Kidman, Colin Farrell and Alicia Silverstone, it drew very strong reviews from critics. The audience, on the other hand, just wasn’t able to reach a consensus.

If you’re in the mood for a movie filled with bizarre sexual fetishes, feeding tubes, and possibly a demigod, then this is for you.

Inspired by the Greek myth of Iphigenia in Aulis, Holy Deer sees a heart surgeon introduce his family to a young man with a connection to his past. Since this is a horror film and not a delightfully wacky comedy, they all suddenly become ill as the aftermath of its appearance becomes unclear.

Directed by Greek auteur Yorgos Lanthimos, it’s one of a group of films that will haunt you forever after you’ve seen them, but will also stimulate your mind. Everything looks very dated on purpose and pretty flat for the most part, with an overwhelming sense of anxiety building alongside agoraphobia. Unlike, say, midsummer it seems to be actively enjoying its total lack of color.

Much like Star Wars, Avatar: The Way of Water and Fast & Furious, this is a film about family at its core. Oh, and potentially narrowing down sexual fetishes with anesthetics. Something that is definitely a common one that everyone can relate to. Exploiting awkward audience reaction has definitely led to a resurgence in horror, especially in the days of “sublime” horror.


Lanthimos had previously made the lobster, a film very difficult to stomach, let alone analyze. The Greek will release his latest feature in the form of next year Poor thingsbased on the book of the same name.

Killing a Sacred Deer can be streamed on Fubo. Screwed up but critically acclaimed horror The Killing of a Sacred Deer still leaves audiences completely bewildered

Lindsay Lowe

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