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LimeGreenLegend

The Killing of a Sacred Deer [Film Club Extra 03]

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LimeGreenLegend

I'm gonna be selfish here, and throw this film in as an extra for Halloween simply because I can't stop thinking about it since I saw it a few weeks ago and would really like to hear your guys' opinion on it.  The Killing of a Sacred Deer is a psychological horror/thriller from Yorgos Lanthimos (The Lobster, The Favourite), a Greek filmmaker who has fast become one of my favourites.

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The film stars Colin Farrell and Nicole Kidman as Steven and Anna Murphy, a seemingly perfect couple.  They are both medical professionals, they have two bright young children, and live in a luxurious home with all the trappings that entails.  But Steven has a strange relationship with the young Martin (Barry Keoghan), one that threatens to tear his family apart.

If you know anything about Greek mythology, you can probably get a good idea of the plot from the title, but I won't say anything about it here, because each new revelation pushed me further towards the edge of my seat.  I will spoil the score I'm going to give this now though by saying that, for me, this film is a perfect 10/10, and Lanthimos's best film to date (despite The Favourite being nominated for a butt-load of Oscars).  

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a surgeon never kills his patient...

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Spinnaker1981

I am 20 minutes into this and I already despise everyone of them.

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LimeGreenLegend
Just now, Spinnaker1981 said:

I am 20 minutes into this and I already despise everyone of them.

Even Bob?!  :D 

Yeah, I don't think you're meant to particularly like anyone in this film.


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Spinnaker1981
2 hours ago, LimeGreenLegend said:

Even Bob?!  :D 

Yeah, I don't think you're meant to particularly like anyone in this film.

No, you are not meant to... Its a disturbing movie, but one that offers very little.

It´s just disturbing for the sake of being disturbing. I don´t get the motivations behind most of what happens... it´s unrewarding and bland.

I really wanted to like it, but I really don´t...

1/10...

 

 

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LimeGreenLegend

A 1/10!

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Spinnaker1981
1 minute ago, LimeGreenLegend said:

A 1/10!

Sorry, but I am not sugarcoating it just because you liked it... :P

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LimeGreenLegend
Just now, Spinnaker1981 said:

Sorry, but I am not sugarcoating it just because you liked it... :P

I don't want you too.

I like that the two scores for this so far are 10/10 and 1/10, and that's why I love this film :D 

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Spinnaker1981
Just now, LimeGreenLegend said:

I don't want you too.

I like that the two scores for this so far are 10/10 and 1/10, and that's why I love this film :D 

I will say more about it later, let others watch it, but not even the metaphoric view of it makes any sense to me...

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LimeGreenLegend

I took a lot of notes for this one, and have a lot to say about this film, so this might run long.  

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The film opens with a sombre classical piece over a black screen, starting us off with a good idea of the tone of the film.  The first thing we see is a close up of a real heart undergoing surgery.  The camera is uncomfortably close here, something that Lanthimos does throughout the film, all of the close ups are too close, making it feel like the characters are invading your own personal space.  The camera then starts to slowly track away from the heart, like the spirit of the patients is leaving the body to haunt the hospital.  Then we see Steven Murphy (Colin Farrell), a heart surgeon, removing his bloody gloves and throwing them in the trash, literally washing the blood off of his hands.  Very symbolic, considering things we learn later on. 

Then we cut to a long shot down a hospital corridor of Steven and his anesthesiologist, Matthew (Bill Camp).  As well as the uncomfortable close-ups, this is another type of shot you see a lot in this film, the very distant long shot that feels voyeuristic, like we're spying on the characters.  The way the camera tracks through the corridor, very slow and measured, reminds me of the way Kubrick shot the hotel in The Shining; the way that The Overlook felt haunted by the ghosts of past guests, here, the hospital feels haunted by former patients.  Throughout all of this Steven and Matthew are having a very bland conversation about watches; strap types, how deep can it go, etc.  This is important, however, and gives us an idea as to the  main theme of the film, fate.  Just like time keeps on ticking and there's nothing we can do about it, so do the events that transpire later.  

In this scene we also get the first taste of the very distinct line delivery that you get from every actor in this film.  This is something that Lanthimos does in every film of his to varying degrees, some have much more emotion than this.  In this film everyone speaks with little emotion in an almost monotone.  This is very divisive, some people hate it, some love it.  Me, I love it.  For me, it allows you to see the emotion in the performances physically, rather than the actors using their voice.  It also adds to the very sterile, controlled style in this film particularly.  The main character is a surgeon, and as such, everything about the film is done with precision.  

We then see Steven in a diner, waiting for someone.  The camera here is behind him, and slowly creeps up on him, and this is how we're introduced to Martin (Barry Keoghan), so we're immediately uneasy with him just from the direction.  Steven offers him some money, which seems strange.  For a long time their relationship is a mystery, how do they know each other?  Why is Steven giving him money?  It's all very uncomfortable.  This is made more uncomfortable by their conversation.  Just like in the previous scene the dialogue is about very bland, boring subjects; haircuts, saving the fries for last.  All through this we cut between close ups of the two, uncomfortably close close-ups.  

They're then seen hanging out by the river.  Martin says "sorry I was late today" telling us that they have been meeting for a while.  Steven then gives him an expensive watch, the same kind he was talking about with Matthew.  The way Steven has offered him money and now given him this watch feels like him trying to buy Martin off, but we still don't know why.  Martin, upon getting the watch, says "can I give you a hug?", but the way he says it and the way he goes in without a reply from Steven makes it feel less like a request and more like a demand, and he knows that Steven won't say no.  First mention of the soundtrack here, real high strings not really playing a melody, but playing a mood.  Most of the original score for this film is like that, very ambient percussion and distorted strings, again, very Kubrickian.  

There's a nice transition here from a slow zoom in on Steven and Martin to a slow zoom into the family's house, seeing them through the window.  It's now night-time, so there's a nice contrast between light and dark, almost implying that Steven is living a double life.  He's having dinner with his family, wife Anna (Nicole Kidman), daughter Kim (Raffey Cassidy) and son Bob (Sunny Suljic).  Their home feels very sterile, almost as much as the hospital, with everything in its place and every surface gleaming.  It's almost a parody of a perfect upper-class suburban home.  Their conversation is also sterile and bland, like every other conversation so far, talking about buying a new couch and Bob getting a haircut.  Anna has a great line here at the end of the scene.  Kim gets jealous of her brother after Anna compliments his hair, and Anna, to placate her, says "we all have lovely hair".  I found that so sinister and honestly, I can't really say why, it just stuck with me.

Anna is now getting ready for bed, talking to Steven about more bland things, a new dress, lemon cake.  It's also revealed that Bob wants to be an ophthalmologist, just like her.  She then strips to her underwear, asks Steven "general anesthetic?" before lying prone on the bed, unmoving and unresponsive, their love life as sterile as the rest of their lives.  All the while the camera slowly creeps in.  

We then cut to Steven walking through the hospital, the camera high up and following him closely, again giving the feeling of some spirit haunting him.  The music here also reminded me of the high pitched tension music from Ghostbusters, which, I guess, adds to the spooky feeling :D  He finds Martin waiting for him, and tries to scold him for coming unannounced.  Martin is very apologetic here, but his tone doesn't sound apologetic, he almost sounds like he's challenging Steven when he says sorry.  Back in the family home we see Steven, dressed up in a tux, in Kim's room watching her practice her scales, because of course a daughter in a family like this would be in a choir.  I love the look of genuine pride in Steven's face when she finishes and he applauds her.  The camera in this scene is very static, like a fly on the wall kind of feel, which you see a lot in scenes in the house.  It kind of reminds me of Norman Bates watching people through a peephole in Psycho, very intrusive and voyeuristic.

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Steven was dressed up as he is to give a speech at a fancy banquet.  This shows us his status and the respect he has in the medical community.  But his speech is like the rest of his conversations so far, very sterile and now full of technical jargon that makes it hard to understand for outsiders.  In this scene we also learn that he has given up drinking, indicating a past problem.  I like how in this scene Anna seems to be mothering him, saying that he can't stay out late because "he's got surgery in the morning".  There's also a shock when Steven and Anna are talking to a colleague when Steven nonchalantly remarks "our daughter started menstruating last week".  This is met with no response, giving the impression that these peoples lives are so bland and numbed that even saying something like that won't bother anyone.  

The next day we're following Steven and Martin, who are walking along the river, with a very low angle tracking shot, like some monster is stalking them, ready to pounce.  During their conversation Martin peppers in things like "that's what my dad used to say", and "ever since my father died..." all the while the camera is on Steven's face and he is starting to look troubled.  We're also starting to get a better idea of their relationship, and it seems to be based on guilt.  Steven invites Martin over to his house out of guilt, escalating the kind of present he's been giving him, first money, then the watch, now inviting him into his home.  We see that Martin accepted in the next shot, where we see him, from a distance, at their door with a bunch of flowers.  There's a slow zoom in on the house as Anna opens the door, like she's letting in more than just Martin.

Along with the flowers, he has bought presents for Kim and Bob, ingratiating him with the family.  He goes to hang out with the kids in Kim's room, smoking a cigarette because he's a bad influence, where she unabashedly tells him "I just got my first period".  This again goes without any kind of reaction.  Bob then asks to see Martin's armpit hair, because he's older than him.  Martin pulls up his shirt to show him, and Bob tells him that his father is much hairier than him.  Kim then tells him "you've got a great body", again with no reaction.  This is so awkward, not just because of the dialogue and the delivery, but I think it really highlights how awkward those years can be.

Kim and Martin go for a walk together, following them from behind in eerie silence.  This silence is broken by Kim singing the song Burn by Ellie Goulding.  She's stood in front of a tree while Martin is sat on the grass in front of her, watching her intently.  The song has the line "when the lights turned out, they don't know what they heard" and "we're gonna let it burn", and the way that Kim is singing it acappella makes it sound so ominous, even though it's a throwaway pop song.  Back in the house, with everyone gathered in the lounge talking, Martin drops in a few lines to needle Steven, "my mom hasn't made lemonade in a while" and "I don't like leaving my mom by hereself".  Again, during all of this, the close ups are way too close, making the whole thing a lot more uncomfortable.  

Later that night Steven and Anna are getting ready for bed, and Anna asks him "how did his (Martin's) father die".  Steven replies very quickly, "car crash, died instantly", and the camera lingers on Anna's face, a mask of doubt falling over it as she, and we as an audience, start to think that he's lying.  Martin then phones Steven, at what seems like a disrespectfully late hour, asserting his dominance over Steven, which he has been doing very subtly since the start of the film.  He invites Steven over to his house, as thanks for being invited to his, but he only invites Steven, and it isn't really an invite, it's a demand.

We see Steven leaving the hospital, driving through the car park, where he thinks he sees Martin watching him, but, arriving at Martin's house, he denies ever being there.  This is the point in the film where Martin really starts to shine as the antagonist, his manipulations and his brash openness about what he's doing and what's happening is truly terrifying.  We then meet Martin's Mother (Alicia Silverstone).  She seems over eager to have Steven in her home, and seems to be over eager to have him there, like Martin has told her that Steven wants to be with her.  Martin insists on watching a movie, and when Steven declines Martin guilts him by saying "it's also my father's favourite movie, too".  

We cut to them sat awkwardly watching Groundhog Day, another film all about fate, and how inescapable it is.  Martin goes to leave halfway through, and demands another hug from Steven.  Martin's mother then starts to talk to Steven, saying how nice and clean his hands are, alluding to the start of the film, and how he has abdicated himself from any responsibility for her husbands death.  She then starts kissing his hands, then she starts sucking on his thumb, at which point he bolts up and makes to leave.  At this, Martin's Mother says "he wants this as much as I do", indicating that Martin has been talking about Steven to her as if he's a father figure, maybe his plan is to replace his father with the man who killed his father.  Steven repeats that he's leaving, at which point I got a huge laugh out of Martin's Mother saying "I won't let you leave until you try my tart" which is as tragic as it is funny, as all throughout this scene Martin's Mother is painted as a very hurt, lonely, and emotionally damaged woman.

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Steven is walking through the hospital, again we're tracking him from a high angle from behind, the ghost shot.  He walks into his office only to find Martin waiting for him, again asserting his dominance, since Steven told him earlier to stop meeting him there.  Martin complains of some chest pains, so demands to be tested, knowing that Steven can't say no.  When Steven tries to tell him that he's a healthy young man and will probably be ok Martin says "my father could've come out of that surgery alive, but he died", followed by a long slow zoom in on Steven's face.  By now the audience should be in no doubt as to their relationship, and it's clear that Martin will take every advantage he can because of that.

He is put through some tests, after which he is left alone in the office with Steven.  Martin is shirtless, and asks to see Steven's body hair, to compare.  He says please, but again, it's a demand not a request.  Steven shows him, at which point Martin belittles him by saying he's not as hairy as he thought he would be, not nearly as hairy as Bob made out he was.  He then starts talking about his mother, telling Steven "she's got a great body", the camera slowly zooming in on him as he says that, revelling in how uncomfortable he's making Steven. 

A hard cut to a close up of a fish being cut up by Matthew, a much messier version of the surgery scene that started the film, showing how messy the situation is getting.  Steven and Anna are over for a barbecue, but Martin calls up, at which point Steven lies to him, saying he can't talk as he's busy at work.  Matthew then tells Steven that he saw Martin at the hospital, but just ignored him when he said hello.  Steven tries to play off that it wasn't him, because he told him not to go there anymore, but there is a clear look of unease on his face.  He can't get away from Martin, he is the physical manifestation of fate.

Back at his house Steven is sat in the lounge when Kim arrives home.  She informs him that Martin bought her home from choir practice on his motorbike, but he couldn't come in because he was in a hurry.  We then see Martin sat outside the house on his motorbike, watching them.  This is a great shot, the slow pan around Martin on his bike revealing the house bathed in shadow, as the last light in the windows goes out, like the last bit of hope has left them.  It's all downhill from here.  

The next morning Bob is in bed late, Anna says "he just likes lying in bed after he wakes up", but Steven seems annoyed, thinking he just wants to skip school.  He marches up to his room, calling "Robert", and you know when a parent uses your full name you're in trouble.  But when he gets to Bob's room he sees him just sat on the edge of the bed.  There's a shot of Bob from just outside his door that slowly zooms in on him as he looks up and tells his dad "I can't get up".  There's a real hopelessness in this delivery and the look on his face here, as well as Steven's reaction, like there's some realisation there that this is connected to Martin.

We then get a montage of Bob in hospital getting all kinds of tests accompanied by a very creepy percussion score, again very much like Kubrick.  All of the tests come back normal, so he is discharged, Steven trying to play it off as Bob being nervous about a test at school.  As Anna and Bob leave the hospital we get another tracking shot, again like they're being stalked.  The shot then changes to an overhead of them riding down an escalator, when they get to the bottom we have a total birds-eye view, the percussion building up a huge amount of tension until Bob collapses on the floor, very sudden and shocking, the music stinging when it happens.  The camera stays in this distant overhead view, representing the helplessness that Anna feels in the scene, there's nothing we, nor her, can do.

We get more scenes of Bob being tested, and cradled in bed by Anna.  Meeting with the doctors, they say all of the tests are fine, and Steven again tries to play it off as nothing.  We then see Kim riding around the city with Martin on his motorbike, the footage slightly slo-mo and ominous drum rolls giving a nightmarish quality to the scene.  We get a close up of her face and there are tears welling up in her eyes.  Perhaps her grief for Bob is pushing her towards Martin for comfort.  She arrives home to find Anna watering the plants, Bob's job.  This is what life is like without him.

A low tracking shot of Anna and Steven walking through the hospital on their way to visit Bob.  As they round his door the camera pans to reveal Martin already there.  As soon as he enters the room Steven never takes his eyes off of Martin, wary of his presence.  Martin demeans Bob, telling his parents "he wet the bed", again with no shame.  As he goes to leave, he whispers in Steven's ear "come to the cafeteria today, don't stand me up" indicating that he has been trying to meet with Steven for a while, and has now had to resort to drastic measures.  

In the cafe, he gives Steven a present, saying as he passes it over "it's a Swiss army knife.  I've just ruined the surprise".  He doesn't sound at all sorry about ruining the surprise.  He then says "I'm really sorry about Bob", which seems genuine.  When Steven replies "it's nothing serious" Martin says "no, it is" and it is chilling, the way he's looking right in Steven's eyes, and saying it so coolly.  He then goes on to explain to Steven that he has to kill a member of his family, just like he killed a member of Martin's family.  If he doesn't do it soon Bob, Kim and Anna will all go through the same thing.  First, paralysis of the limbs, then refusal of food to the point of starvation, then bleeding from the eyes, then death.  If Steven doesn't kill one person, all three will die.  After telling Steven all of this he says "there, I said it as quickly as I could, I hope I haven't kept you too long" like he didn't like telling him that.  This brings up an interesting point about this film, is Martin the architect of this tragic fate, or is he just the messenger?

We then get a slow zoom in on Steven's face, distorted, wavering strings representing his state of mind as he processes what he just heard.  We then cut to Martin being escorted out of the hospital by security, he has now been marked as an enemy.  Then we follow Steven as he enters Bob's room and sits on the couch at the back.  The camera slowly tracks in on him as he's talking to Anna, pushing through the doorway as Steven gets up and walks over to Bob's bed, where we're now creeping up over his shoulder, another creeping ghost in the hospital.  Steven then tries to make Bob eat a donut, to prove Martin wrong, but Bob refuses.  At this Steven loses it and tries to force the donut into Bob's mouth.  This scene was really uncomfortable to watch, as this parent, in trying to help his child, seems to be hurting him.  He's in full desperation mode now.

We then see Kim applying lip gloss and making herself pretty for Martin.  They are hanging out in her room talking when he asks her "are you on your period?".  She stands up in front of him, and we get the fly on the wall shot again as she uncomfortably strips to her underwear and lies prone on her bed, just like Anna does.  Martin tells her "you're the prettiest girl I ever met", but this is without emotion.  He then goes to leave right away, he doesn't need to do anything else, he knows he has her.  Then we're back in the hospital.  Shots of Anna and Steven talking to other doctors, telling them that the tests need to be redone and intercut with shots of Bob being tested, including a pretty grisly shot of some fluid being drained out of a nasty looking bedsore or something.  I love how the sounds of the machines are mixed with the creepy percussive score in this scene.

We then get another ghost shot following Steven pushing Bob down a corridor in a wheelchair.  With a mixture of fatherly encouragement and frustration Steven picks Bob up and tries to make him walk, but his legs are useless so he just collapses in a heap.  Steven tries this a couple of time, the drops getting more violent as his frustration increases.  His anger at Martin is being aimed at Bob.  He then tells him that if he's lying just to get out of school he will "shave your head and make you eat your hair".  Which sounds ridiculous but in the moment you don't know whether to laugh or be shocked, because it's delivered as a serious threat, not a joke.

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We then cut to Kim at choir practice, singing Carol of the Bells, a really intense Christmas carol that's full of tension, which builds to a crescendo before Kim collapses in the middle of the group, her legs giving out from under her.  A huge crash of the piano mirroring her fall.  We then cut to Anna who is obviously riddled with grief, the biggest show of emotion in the film so far, signifying how much of a toll events have had on her.  We then cut to a close up of Kim in her hospital bed trying to eat a tiny slice of apple.  She is clearly uncomfortable with this, struggling to chew, and our close proximity to her makes it all the more uncomfortable, we're able to feel her unease clearly through the screen.

We then cut to a ghost shot following Steven driving in his car.  There is complete silence here, indicating his total focus on what he's doing now.  We see him waiting outside Martin's house, mirroring Martin waiting outside his on his motorbike.  Steven is trying to go on the offensive, but it will all prove futile, his attempts impotent.  He marches up to the door, pounding it, demanding to be let in, but there's no answer.  Steven can't find any answers anywhere.  He screams at the house "open the door or I will smash it down and fuck you and your mother like you wanted", even though it's a threat, he's still offering to give Martin what he wants.  

We then see Anna talking to Steven, she discovers that they have been meeting for six months, because he felt sorry for him.  Anna then asks about his father, who died under Steven's scalpel.  Steven insists he has no part in his death, telling her "a surgeon never kills a patient.  An anesthesiologist can kill a patient, but not a surgeon", again keeping his hands clean.  She asks if he was drinking that day, and he tells her no.  We then cut to Steven standing in the shower, not washing himself, just letting the water wash over him.  We then see him sat in a chair, naked, pathetic.  He is totally vulnerable and has no idea what to do, so he does nothing.  

In the hospital Anna is with Bob and Kim, who are sharing a room.  Kim asks to be turned on her side, and Anna turns her away from herself and Bob, symbolic of how she's turned away from her family for Martin.  Martin then calls Kim, we see him far below in the car park, looking up at her window.  How long has he been there watching?  While they are talking Kim is able to stand up and walk over to the window.  Bob is jealous of this, and tries to get out of bed, but face-plants straight to the floor.  When Martin hangs up the phone Kim loses feeling in her legs again.  This convinces Anna that Martin is behind it all, takes away her phone and tells her not to talk to him anymore.  Kim says, under her breath "fuck you", the first proper conflict between mother and daughter.  She then goads her mother, saying "you won't be able to move either, but you'll get used to it", a line all about fate again.  Things are gonna happen, just get used to it.  We then see Anna in the lobby of the hospital, not moving, as if she's trying to imagine what it will be like.

Anna then visits Martin at his house.  He is a slob here, dressed in a dirty t-shirt and boxer shorts, eating a big greasy plate of spaghetti, sauce all around his mouth.  All throughout this scene he's playing with his food, the way he's playing with her and her family.  He mentions how "all doctors have clean, nice, beautiful hands", referring to Steven not taking responsibility for his actions.  There is also a great line about Martin's father, and how they both eat spaghetti the same way, but it turns out "everyone eats spaghetti the exact same way, exact same way, exact same way".  No matter how special you think you are, you're just the same as everyone else, and there's nothing you can do about it.  Fate.  The repetition also reinforces the idea that no matter how many times you try to change things, you can't.  We're then in the hospital, where we see a big important table with important looking people sat around it.  We see this from the outside, so can't hear them, but from Steven's body language you can tell what they're saying.  They've done all they can for Kim and Bob, there's nothing more they can do.

This dead end leads Anna to try to find out more about Martin's father.  To this end we see her at a diner, not the same one that Steven met Martin in, to meet Matthew.  He says "an anesthesiologist is never to blame..." reversing the sentiment Steven had earlier.  He reveals, in return for a handjob, that Steven was drunk when he operated on Martin's father, and so is to blame for his death.  The frantic yet detached look on Anna's face as she jerks him off really shows you how she's feeling about this revelation.  

We're now back in the house, Kim and Bob sharing a room that looks like a hospital room, matching the already sterile nature of the house.  In the kitchen Anna is watching Steven as he makes bland conversation, like everything is back to normal.  He talks about going to the beach, and mashed potatoes.  Anna coldly says to him "you have beautiful hands...nice and clean", in such a way that accuses him.  While she's saying all of this the camera slowly pushes in on her, forcing Steven out of the frame, like he has no answer to her accusations.  He becomes angry at her, and starts trashing the kitchen looking for teeth and pubic hair to make a magic potion, mocking Anna's insistence that there is some other force behind this because he is still unwilling to believe that these things are out of his control.  He's a man of science, there must be a reasonable explanation to all of this.  He ends his tirade by saying "we don't have any of the things we need", which is ironic in their perfect home.  

In the bedroom Anna is lying in bed with her back to him.  He is now docile and apologetic, his rage earlier all pointless and impotent, like when he went to Martin's house and threatened him.  We then see him stood in his darkened house from the outside, a look of grim determination on his face.  He has to do something now.  He leaves the frame, and the light turns out, signifying the end of a chapter and the start of a new one.

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There's a sharp sting of strings as Steven wakes Anna the next morning.  He tells her to come to the basement.  The basement is dark and bathed in a dark cold light.  It doesn't look dirty, but it feels dirty in comparison to the rest of the house.  Here we find Martin, beaten to a pulp and tied to a chair.  Despite this he seems calm, almost relaxed.  He's not gagged yet he doesn't shout for help.  He knows he's still in control, despite what things look like, and we feel that too.  He is still the dominant one in this relationship.  He bites Steven, and then bites himself even harder, taking a chunk out of his arm, which he spits on the ground.  "Do you understand?  It's metaphorical" he says.  An eye for an eye, and also, there is nothing that Steven can do to Martin that he wouldn't do to himself.  Again, Steven is left impotent, he has no control, there is nothing he can do.

We then see Anna washing the blood from the boot of Steven's car, making her an accomplice.  Some discordant strings start to play before they are broken by a gunshot.  She rushes to the basement where Steven is threatening Martin with a gun, but Martin is still unfazed.  He tells Steven "if you're gonna dig a hole in the yard you better make it a big one", and here's where Steven starts to believe him.  He won't take the risk of losing his family, even if he never believed in curses before.  There are some jarring piano chords that accompany this, mirroring his broken state of mind at this point. 

Up in their room Kim and Bob are hanging out.  Kim knows that her father didn't just kill Martin, saying "it would be like killing four people with a single shot.  Wouldn't that be tragic?"  The kids have accepted their fate.  They know that one of them will die.  Kim shows that she thinks she'll live by saying that she's going to live with Martin.  She's also taken up smoking, he's having a strong influence on her.  Bob shows that he thinks he's going to live by saying "they bought me a piano", implying that he'll live long enough to learn how to play it.  Kim then bluntly asks "can I have your mp3 player when you're dead?"  I really like that they're having a classic sibling rivalry game of one-upsmanship, but it's about who their dad is going to kill, it makes the situation even more horrific by bringing some humour into it.  

We then get a really creepy shot of Bob crawling through the house on his stomach, dragging his useless legs behind him.  There's an unsettling silence apart from the squeak of Bob's body against the wood floor.  He finds some scissors and cuts off of his "beautiful" hair as a sacrifice to try and save himself.  We then see Steven in the kitchen, his hands shaking as the weight of the situation constantly pushes him down.  Bob crawls up to him to show him his haircut "dad, look" it's like he's making his case to not be killed, showing what a good son he is.  He then says "I'm gonna water the plants now" and goes to crawl off again before Steven stops him.  We then cut to Steven in the yard in the dark and the rain crying, his knees pulled up to his face.  He has now realised that he has to kill one of his children, but has no idea how or why.

We then see Steven in his kids school, the camera ghosting behind him again.  He is meeting with their headteacher, who mentions an essay Kim wrote on the Myth of Iphigenia by Euripides, the ancient Greek myth on which this film is based.  Steven asks the teacher "do you especially like one of them more than the other", and we realise that he's here trying to find out which of his children is the "best", and which one to kill, which is incredibly dark, but this scene almost plays like a comedy.  Steven is looking for answers anywhere he can, there weren't any at the hospital, so why not check the school?  The scene ends with the teacher telling him "I don't know what to tell you" while the camera fixes on Steven's face as he finds another dead end.

Then we get a real creepy visual of Kim crawling down the stairs, really reminded me of The Exorcist.  She is there with Anna, who is carrying Bob, and they look really tense and fearful, like they're going to confront a beast.  Anna dresses his wounds almost reverentially, as if that would make all of this go away.  In this same vein she then bows down and kisses his feet.  Martin is unresponsive to this, it's all too late.  He simply and coldly tells her "the boy's about to die".  In their bedroom, Anna is trying to get with Steven, maybe feeling guilty for kissing Martin's feet.  She tries to kiss his "clean" hands, no response.  Like at the start of the film she strips and lays on the bed for him, he just turns out the light.  They start talking and come to the conclusion that the only logical thing to do is kill one of their children, they're still young enough to have another.  This is one of the most chilling scenes in the film for me, now that they've reached a point where they have no option but to face up to fate they become cold and logical, eschewing emotions for equations.  Maybe that makes it easier to deal with.

We then see Kim, on her own, crawling down to Martin.  She offers herself to him, wanting to run away with him, but he rebuffs her.  He doesn't want her now he has her affections.  Realising this, she tries to run away on her own, but as she doesn't have use of her legs, can only crawl slowly away.  Steven and Anna go looking for her, Steven walking in front of the car through the almost pitch black streets like he's walking into the unknown.  They find Kim on the sidewalk, her knees bloodied from crawling on concrete.  At home, while tending to her wounds, Kim gives a creepy speech about how she should be the one to die, how her father bought her into this world and it's only right he take her out of this world.  This might be a ploy to gain her father's sympathy after her running away plan failed, but it also may be her accepting fate too, even welcoming it.

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Cut to Anna in the kitchen the next morning.  The daylight looks washed out and weary, the whole picture is depressing, Anna's face is tired and she looks like she's given up.  She reveals to Steven that she let Martin go.  There was no point in keeping him prisoner, it wasn't going to change anything.  She too has accepted fate.  In the next scene Anna is with the children in their room.  She is washing Bob's legs while Kim tries to apologise for her rudeness in the hospital.  This doesn't get a response for Anna, so Kim asks her "do your legs hurt? does your back hurt? has it started yet?" which causes Anna to slap her.  There is a great look of "fuck you" on Kim's face after this.

The next scene starts with a close up of Anna sleeping, which pulls out to reveal Steven stood over her watching.  It's like he's looking for answers anywhere, maybe in his wife's sleeptalking even.  We then get a close up of Bob, whose eyes become literally bloodshot, before they start bleeding properly.  Kim sees this and calls out "Dad, quick.  Bob's dying", but it's not a shout of worry, more like anticipation.  The time has come.  We then see Steven tenderly wiping the blood away from Bob's eyes, and the look on his face here is heartbreaking.  It's almost like he's already saying goodbye.  This whole scene is horrific, and I don't even have children.  I can't imagine what a parent would feel watching this.

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We then cut to Anna in the bedroom.  Steven enters and says "come to the living room".  Anna asks where the children are, and he replies "they're already there" with an air of finality.  Anna, realising what's happening, says "I think I'm gonna wear that black dress you like", like she's attending a funeral.  The scene ends with Steven leaving the warmth and light of the bedroom, to the darkness of the hallway, Steven has entered the dark place he needs to go to in order to do what he has to do.  We then cut to the living room.  Bob is bound and gagged sat on the sofa, blood streaming from his eyes.  We also see Kim and Anna, both tied up like Bob.  Steven enters and places bags over all of their heads.  No one protests.  They all know this has to happen and they have given themselves over to it.  This is the only thing they can do.  This is their fate.

The music rises to a maddening pitch as Steven pulls a woollen cap over his face and starts spinning in a circle with a loaded gun in the middle of the three.  I love how the music breaks before he fires the first shot, so you're not ready for it and has a much greater impact.  It's a miss.  Steven didn't hit anyone.  He pulls the cap back down over his eyes and does it again.  During this there's one single sustained note representing our tension.  He fires a second time.  Another miss.  The note gets higher and higher as he spins for a third time.  He stops facing Bob for half a second, like he could see him, before he shoots, hitting Bob and killing him.  Silence follows, almost a relief washes over the family as fate has been satisfied.  Steven almost looks like he's glad it's all over.  The scene ends with a slow zoom in on the dead bob, bag still on his head, blood slowly trickling from the wound in his chest.  The sacred deer has been killed.

An unspecified amount of time later we see Steven Anna and Kim at the same diner where Steven used to meet Martin.  Martin enters in slo-mo, all attention on him.  He has no shame.  He walks past the family, who all look away, as if they are the ones who are shameful.  He sits at the counter, as we get a close up of Kim squirting ketchup on some fries, the same fries that are Martin's favourite.  There is evil sounding choral music as the camera slowly zooms in on Martin, who is openly watching them.  It's like they've come here to show him "look, we did it.  We did what you wanted".  They get up to leave without looking back, except for Kim.  She looks back at Martin and almost smiles.  He still has her.  The film ends with Martin watching them leave.  He isn't happy about what happened, it was just something that had to happen, and his face betrays no emotion about anything that just happened.

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Well, there we go.  I absolutely loved this film.  Right from the opening shot of a real heart I was hooked.  I get that it isn't to everyone's tastes, but to me, this is everything cinema is about.  The film looks gorgeous, the direction adds to the story without being too flashy, the acting is fantastic, if very idiosyncratic, and the story had me on the edge of my seat and as tense as any film I can ever remember.  This is an uncomfortable film about not very likeable people having horrible things happen to them.  It's bleak, miserable, and utterly brilliant. 

And that's why it's a 10/10 @Spinnaker1981 ;) 

Edited by LimeGreenLegend
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Fido_le_muet

Too long, didn't read :D 

I'll read it once I seen the movie ^^ 

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LimeGreenLegend
1 minute ago, Fido_le_muet said:

Too long, didn't read :D 

I'll read it once I seen the movie ^^ 

Yeah, I really went for it on this one, sorry about that :D 

Edited by LimeGreenLegend
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Spinnaker1981
17 hours ago, LimeGreenLegend said:

I took a lot of notes for this one, and have a lot to say about this film, so this might run long.  

Image result for the killing of a sacred deer poster

The film opens with a sombre classical piece over a black screen, starting us off with a good idea of the tone of the film.  The first thing we see is a close up of a real heart undergoing surgery.  The camera is uncomfortably close here, something that Lanthimos does throughout the film, all of the close ups are too close, making it feel like the characters are invading your own personal space.  The camera then starts to slowly track away from the heart, like the spirit of the patients is leaving the body to haunt the hospital.  Then we see Steven Murphy (Colin Farrell), a heart surgeon, removing his bloody gloves and throwing them in the trash, literally washing the blood off of his hands.  Very symbolic, considering things we learn later on. 

Then we cut to a long shot down a hospital corridor of Steven and his anesthesiologist, Matthew (Bill Camp).  As well as the uncomfortable close-ups, this is another type of shot you see a lot in this film, the very distant long shot that feels voyeuristic, like we're spying on the characters.  The way the camera tracks through the corridor, very slow and measured, reminds me of the way Kubrick shot the hotel in The Shining; the way that The Overlook felt haunted by the ghosts of past guests, here, the hospital feels haunted by former patients.  Throughout all of this Steven and Matthew are having a very bland conversation about watches; strap types, how deep can it go, etc.  This is important, however, and gives us an idea as to the  main theme of the film, fate.  Just like time keeps on ticking and there's nothing we can do about it, so do the events that transpire later.  

In this scene we also get the first taste of the very distinct line delivery that you get from every actor in this film.  This is something that Lanthimos does in every film of his to varying degrees, some have much more emotion than this.  In this film everyone speaks with little emotion in an almost monotone.  This is very divisive, some people hate it, some love it.  Me, I love it.  For me, it allows you to see the emotion in the performances physically, rather than the actors using their voice.  It also adds to the very sterile, controlled style in this film particularly.  The main character is a surgeon, and as such, everything about the film is done with precision.  

We then see Steven in a diner, waiting for someone.  The camera here is behind him, and slowly creeps up on him, and this is how we're introduced to Martin (Barry Keoghan), so we're immediately uneasy with him just from the direction.  Steven offers him some money, which seems strange.  For a long time their relationship is a mystery, how do they know each other?  Why is Steven giving him money?  It's all very uncomfortable.  This is made more uncomfortable by their conversation.  Just like in the previous scene the dialogue is about very bland, boring subjects; haircuts, saving the fries for last.  All through this we cut between close ups of the two, uncomfortably close close-ups.  

They're then seen hanging out by the river.  Martin says "sorry I was late today" telling us that they have been meeting for a while.  Steven then gives him an expensive watch, the same kind he was talking about with Matthew.  The way Steven has offered him money and now given him this watch feels like him trying to buy Martin off, but we still don't know why.  Martin, upon getting the watch, says "can I give you a hug?", but the way he says it and the way he goes in without a reply from Steven makes it feel less like a request and more like a demand, and he knows that Steven won't say no.  First mention of the soundtrack here, real high strings not really playing a melody, but playing a mood.  Most of the original score for this film is like that, very ambient percussion and distorted strings, again, very Kubrickian.  

There's a nice transition here from a slow zoom in on Steven and Martin to a slow zoom into the family's house, seeing them through the window.  It's now night-time, so there's a nice contrast between light and dark, almost implying that Steven is living a double life.  He's having dinner with his family, wife Anna (Nicole Kidman), daughter Kim (Raffey Cassidy) and son Bob (Sunny Suljic).  Their home feels very sterile, almost as much as the hospital, with everything in its place and every surface gleaming.  It's almost a parody of a perfect upper-class suburban home.  Their conversation is also sterile and bland, like every other conversation so far, talking about buying a new couch and Bob getting a haircut.  Anna has a great line here at the end of the scene.  Kim gets jealous of her brother after Anna compliments his hair, and Anna, to placate her, says "we all have lovely hair".  I found that so sinister and honestly, I can't really say why, it just stuck with me.

Anna is now getting ready for bed, talking to Steven about more bland things, a new dress, lemon cake.  It's also revealed that Bob wants to be an ophthalmologist, just like her.  She then strips to her underwear, asks Steven "general anesthetic?" before lying prone on the bed, unmoving and unresponsive, their love life as sterile as the rest of their lives.  All the while the camera slowly creeps in.  

We then cut to Steven walking through the hospital, the camera high up and following him closely, again giving the feeling of some spirit haunting him.  The music here also reminded me of the high pitched tension music from Ghostbusters, which, I guess, adds to the spooky feeling :D  He finds Martin waiting for him, and tries to scold him for coming unannounced.  Martin is very apologetic here, but his tone doesn't sound apologetic, he almost sounds like he's challenging Steven when he says sorry.  Back in the family home we see Steven, dressed up in a tux, in Kim's room watching her practice her scales, because of course a daughter in a family like this would be in a choir.  I love the look of genuine pride in Steven's face when she finishes and he applauds her.  The camera in this scene is very static, like a fly on the wall kind of feel, which you see a lot in scenes in the house.  It kind of reminds me of Norman Bates watching people through a peephole in Psycho, very intrusive and voyeuristic.

colin farrell clapping GIF by A24

Steven was dressed up as he is to give a speech at a fancy banquet.  This shows us his status and the respect he has in the medical community.  But his speech is like the rest of his conversations so far, very sterile and now full of technical jargon that makes it hard to understand for outsiders.  In this scene we also learn that he has given up drinking, indicating a past problem.  I like how in this scene Anna seems to be mothering him, saying that he can't stay out late because "he's got surgery in the morning".  There's also a shock when Steven and Anna are talking to a colleague when Steven nonchalantly remarks "our daughter started menstruating last week".  This is met with no response, giving the impression that these peoples lives are so bland and numbed that even saying something like that won't bother anyone.  

The next day we're following Steven and Martin, who are walking along the river, with a very low angle tracking shot, like some monster is stalking them, ready to pounce.  During their conversation Martin peppers in things like "that's what my dad used to say", and "ever since my father died..." all the while the camera is on Steven's face and he is starting to look troubled.  We're also starting to get a better idea of their relationship, and it seems to be based on guilt.  Steven invites Martin over to his house out of guilt, escalating the kind of present he's been giving him, first money, then the watch, now inviting him into his home.  We see that Martin accepted in the next shot, where we see him, from a distance, at their door with a bunch of flowers.  There's a slow zoom in on the house as Anna opens the door, like she's letting in more than just Martin.

Along with the flowers, he has bought presents for Kim and Bob, ingratiating him with the family.  He goes to hang out with the kids in Kim's room, smoking a cigarette because he's a bad influence, where she unabashedly tells him "I just got my first period".  This again goes without any kind of reaction.  Bob then asks to see Martin's armpit hair, because he's older than him.  Martin pulls up his shirt to show him, and Bob tells him that his father is much hairier than him.  Kim then tells him "you've got a great body", again with no reaction.  This is so awkward, not just because of the dialogue and the delivery, but I think it really highlights how awkward those years can be.

Kim and Martin go for a walk together, following them from behind in eerie silence.  This silence is broken by Kim singing the song Burn by Ellie Goulding.  She's stood in front of a tree while Martin is sat on the grass in front of her, watching her intently.  The song has the line "when the lights turned out, they don't know what they heard" and "we're gonna let it burn", and the way that Kim is singing it acappella makes it sound so ominous, even though it's a throwaway pop song.  Back in the house, with everyone gathered in the lounge talking, Martin drops in a few lines to needle Steven, "my mom hasn't made lemonade in a while" and "I don't like leaving my mom by hereself".  Again, during all of this, the close ups are way too close, making the whole thing a lot more uncomfortable.  

Later that night Steven and Anna are getting ready for bed, and Anna asks him "how did his (Martin's) father die".  Steven replies very quickly, "car crash, died instantly", and the camera lingers on Anna's face, a mask of doubt falling over it as she, and we as an audience, start to think that he's lying.  Martin then phones Steven, at what seems like a disrespectfully late hour, asserting his dominance over Steven, which he has been doing very subtly since the start of the film.  He invites Steven over to his house, as thanks for being invited to his, but he only invites Steven, and it isn't really an invite, it's a demand.

We see Steven leaving the hospital, driving through the car park, where he thinks he sees Martin watching him, but, arriving at Martin's house, he denies ever being there.  This is the point in the film where Martin really starts to shine as the antagonist, his manipulations and his brash openness about what he's doing and what's happening is truly terrifying.  We then meet Martin's Mother (Alicia Silverstone).  She seems over eager to have Steven in her home, and seems to be over eager to have him there, like Martin has told her that Steven wants to be with her.  Martin insists on watching a movie, and when Steven declines Martin guilts him by saying "it's also my father's favourite movie, too".  

We cut to them sat awkwardly watching Groundhog Day, another film all about fate, and how inescapable it is.  Martin goes to leave halfway through, and demands another hug from Steven.  Martin's mother then starts to talk to Steven, saying how nice and clean his hands are, alluding to the start of the film, and how he has abdicated himself from any responsibility for her husbands death.  She then starts kissing his hands, then she starts sucking on his thumb, at which point he bolts up and makes to leave.  At this, Martin's Mother says "he wants this as much as I do", indicating that Martin has been talking about Steven to her as if he's a father figure, maybe his plan is to replace his father with the man who killed his father.  Steven repeats that he's leaving, at which point I got a huge laugh out of Martin's Mother saying "I won't let you leave until you try my tart" which is as tragic as it is funny, as all throughout this scene Martin's Mother is painted as a very hurt, lonely, and emotionally damaged woman.

alicia silverstone smile GIF by A24

Steven is walking through the hospital, again we're tracking him from a high angle from behind, the ghost shot.  He walks into his office only to find Martin waiting for him, again asserting his dominance, since Steven told him earlier to stop meeting him there.  Martin complains of some chest pains, so demands to be tested, knowing that Steven can't say no.  When Steven tries to tell him that he's a healthy young man and will probably be ok Martin says "my father could've come out of that surgery alive, but he died", followed by a long slow zoom in on Steven's face.  By now the audience should be in no doubt as to their relationship, and it's clear that Martin will take every advantage he can because of that.

He is put through some tests, after which he is left alone in the office with Steven.  Martin is shirtless, and asks to see Steven's body hair, to compare.  He says please, but again, it's a demand not a request.  Steven shows him, at which point Martin belittles him by saying he's not as hairy as he thought he would be, not nearly as hairy as Bob made out he was.  He then starts talking about his mother, telling Steven "she's got a great body", the camera slowly zooming in on him as he says that, revelling in how uncomfortable he's making Steven. 

A hard cut to a close up of a fish being cut up by Matthew, a much messier version of the surgery scene that started the film, showing how messy the situation is getting.  Steven and Anna are over for a barbecue, but Martin calls up, at which point Steven lies to him, saying he can't talk as he's busy at work.  Matthew then tells Steven that he saw Martin at the hospital, but just ignored him when he said hello.  Steven tries to play off that it wasn't him, because he told him not to go there anymore, but there is a clear look of unease on his face.  He can't get away from Martin, he is the physical manifestation of fate.

Back at his house Steven is sat in the lounge when Kim arrives home.  She informs him that Martin bought her home from choir practice on his motorbike, but he couldn't come in because he was in a hurry.  We then see Martin sat outside the house on his motorbike, watching them.  This is a great shot, the slow pan around Martin on his bike revealing the house bathed in shadow, as the last light in the windows goes out, like the last bit of hope has left them.  It's all downhill from here.  

The next morning Bob is in bed late, Anna says "he just likes lying in bed after he wakes up", but Steven seems annoyed, thinking he just wants to skip school.  He marches up to his room, calling "Robert", and you know when a parent uses your full name you're in trouble.  But when he gets to Bob's room he sees him just sat on the edge of the bed.  There's a shot of Bob from just outside his door that slowly zooms in on him as he looks up and tells his dad "I can't get up".  There's a real hopelessness in this delivery and the look on his face here, as well as Steven's reaction, like there's some realisation there that this is connected to Martin.

We then get a montage of Bob in hospital getting all kinds of tests accompanied by a very creepy percussion score, again very much like Kubrick.  All of the tests come back normal, so he is discharged, Steven trying to play it off as Bob being nervous about a test at school.  As Anna and Bob leave the hospital we get another tracking shot, again like they're being stalked.  The shot then changes to an overhead of them riding down an escalator, when they get to the bottom we have a total birds-eye view, the percussion building up a huge amount of tension until Bob collapses on the floor, very sudden and shocking, the music stinging when it happens.  The camera stays in this distant overhead view, representing the helplessness that Anna feels in the scene, there's nothing we, nor her, can do.

We get more scenes of Bob being tested, and cradled in bed by Anna.  Meeting with the doctors, they say all of the tests are fine, and Steven again tries to play it off as nothing.  We then see Kim riding around the city with Martin on his motorbike, the footage slightly slo-mo and ominous drum rolls giving a nightmarish quality to the scene.  We get a close up of her face and there are tears welling up in her eyes.  Perhaps her grief for Bob is pushing her towards Martin for comfort.  She arrives home to find Anna watering the plants, Bob's job.  This is what life is like without him.

A low tracking shot of Anna and Steven walking through the hospital on their way to visit Bob.  As they round his door the camera pans to reveal Martin already there.  As soon as he enters the room Steven never takes his eyes off of Martin, wary of his presence.  Martin demeans Bob, telling his parents "he wet the bed", again with no shame.  As he goes to leave, he whispers in Steven's ear "come to the cafeteria today, don't stand me up" indicating that he has been trying to meet with Steven for a while, and has now had to resort to drastic measures.  

In the cafe, he gives Steven a present, saying as he passes it over "it's a Swiss army knife.  I've just ruined the surprise".  He doesn't sound at all sorry about ruining the surprise.  He then says "I'm really sorry about Bob", which seems genuine.  When Steven replies "it's nothing serious" Martin says "no, it is" and it is chilling, the way he's looking right in Steven's eyes, and saying it so coolly.  He then goes on to explain to Steven that he has to kill a member of his family, just like he killed a member of Martin's family.  If he doesn't do it soon Bob, Kim and Anna will all go through the same thing.  First, paralysis of the limbs, then refusal of food to the point of starvation, then bleeding from the eyes, then death.  If Steven doesn't kill one person, all three will die.  After telling Steven all of this he says "there, I said it as quickly as I could, I hope I haven't kept you too long" like he didn't like telling him that.  This brings up an interesting point about this film, is Martin the architect of this tragic fate, or is he just the messenger?

We then get a slow zoom in on Steven's face, distorted, wavering strings representing his state of mind as he processes what he just heard.  We then cut to Martin being escorted out of the hospital by security, he has now been marked as an enemy.  Then we follow Steven as he enters Bob's room and sits on the couch at the back.  The camera slowly tracks in on him as he's talking to Anna, pushing through the doorway as Steven gets up and walks over to Bob's bed, where we're now creeping up over his shoulder, another creeping ghost in the hospital.  Steven then tries to make Bob eat a donut, to prove Martin wrong, but Bob refuses.  At this Steven loses it and tries to force the donut into Bob's mouth.  This scene was really uncomfortable to watch, as this parent, in trying to help his child, seems to be hurting him.  He's in full desperation mode now.

We then see Kim applying lip gloss and making herself pretty for Martin.  They are hanging out in her room talking when he asks her "are you on your period?".  She stands up in front of him, and we get the fly on the wall shot again as she uncomfortably strips to her underwear and lies prone on her bed, just like Anna does.  Martin tells her "you're the prettiest girl I ever met", but this is without emotion.  He then goes to leave right away, he doesn't need to do anything else, he knows he has her.  Then we're back in the hospital.  Shots of Anna and Steven talking to other doctors, telling them that the tests need to be redone and intercut with shots of Bob being tested, including a pretty grisly shot of some fluid being drained out of a nasty looking bedsore or something.  I love how the sounds of the machines are mixed with the creepy percussive score in this scene.

We then get another ghost shot following Steven pushing Bob down a corridor in a wheelchair.  With a mixture of fatherly encouragement and frustration Steven picks Bob up and tries to make him walk, but his legs are useless so he just collapses in a heap.  Steven tries this a couple of time, the drops getting more violent as his frustration increases.  His anger at Martin is being aimed at Bob.  He then tells him that if he's lying just to get out of school he will "shave your head and make you eat your hair".  Which sounds ridiculous but in the moment you don't know whether to laugh or be shocked, because it's delivered as a serious threat, not a joke.

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We then cut to Kim at choir practice, singing Carol of the Bells, a really intense Christmas carol that's full of tension, which builds to a crescendo before Kim collapses in the middle of the group, her legs giving out from under her.  A huge crash of the piano mirroring her fall.  We then cut to Anna who is obviously riddled with grief, the biggest show of emotion in the film so far, signifying how much of a toll events have had on her.  We then cut to a close up of Kim in her hospital bed trying to eat a tiny slice of apple.  She is clearly uncomfortable with this, struggling to chew, and our close proximity to her makes it all the more uncomfortable, we're able to feel her unease clearly through the screen.

We then cut to a ghost shot following Steven driving in his car.  There is complete silence here, indicating his total focus on what he's doing now.  We see him waiting outside Martin's house, mirroring Martin waiting outside his on his motorbike.  Steven is trying to go on the offensive, but it will all prove futile, his attempts impotent.  He marches up to the door, pounding it, demanding to be let in, but there's no answer.  Steven can't find any answers anywhere.  He screams at the house "open the door or I will smash it down and fuck you and your mother like you wanted", even though it's a threat, he's still offering to give Martin what he wants.  

We then see Anna talking to Steven, she discovers that they have been meeting for six months, because he felt sorry for him.  Anna then asks about his father, who died under Steven's scalpel.  Steven insists he has no part in his death, telling her "a surgeon never kills a patient.  An anesthesiologist can kill a patient, but not a surgeon", again keeping his hands clean.  She asks if he was drinking that day, and he tells her no.  We then cut to Steven standing in the shower, not washing himself, just letting the water wash over him.  We then see him sat in a chair, naked, pathetic.  He is totally vulnerable and has no idea what to do, so he does nothing.  

In the hospital Anna is with Bob and Kim, who are sharing a room.  Kim asks to be turned on her side, and Anna turns her away from herself and Bob, symbolic of how she's turned away from her family for Martin.  Martin then calls Kim, we see him far below in the car park, looking up at her window.  How long has he been there watching?  While they are talking Kim is able to stand up and walk over to the window.  Bob is jealous of this, and tries to get out of bed, but face-plants straight to the floor.  When Martin hangs up the phone Kim loses feeling in her legs again.  This convinces Anna that Martin is behind it all, takes away her phone and tells her not to talk to him anymore.  Kim says, under her breath "fuck you", the first proper conflict between mother and daughter.  She then goads her mother, saying "you won't be able to move either, but you'll get used to it", a line all about fate again.  Things are gonna happen, just get used to it.  We then see Anna in the lobby of the hospital, not moving, as if she's trying to imagine what it will be like.

Anna then visits Martin at his house.  He is a slob here, dressed in a dirty t-shirt and boxer shorts, eating a big greasy plate of spaghetti, sauce all around his mouth.  All throughout this scene he's playing with his food, the way he's playing with her and her family.  He mentions how "all doctors have clean, nice, beautiful hands", referring to Steven not taking responsibility for his actions.  There is also a great line about Martin's father, and how they both eat spaghetti the same way, but it turns out "everyone eats spaghetti the exact same way, exact same way, exact same way".  No matter how special you think you are, you're just the same as everyone else, and there's nothing you can do about it.  Fate.  The repetition also reinforces the idea that no matter how many times you try to change things, you can't.  We're then in the hospital, where we see a big important table with important looking people sat around it.  We see this from the outside, so can't hear them, but from Steven's body language you can tell what they're saying.  They've done all they can for Kim and Bob, there's nothing more they can do.

This dead end leads Anna to try to find out more about Martin's father.  To this end we see her at a diner, not the same one that Steven met Martin in, to meet Matthew.  He says "an anesthesiologist is never to blame..." reversing the sentiment Steven had earlier.  He reveals, in return for a handjob, that Steven was drunk when he operated on Martin's father, and so is to blame for his death.  The frantic yet detached look on Anna's face as she jerks him off really shows you how she's feeling about this revelation.  

We're now back in the house, Kim and Bob sharing a room that looks like a hospital room, matching the already sterile nature of the house.  In the kitchen Anna is watching Steven as he makes bland conversation, like everything is back to normal.  He talks about going to the beach, and mashed potatoes.  Anna coldly says to him "you have beautiful hands...nice and clean", in such a way that accuses him.  While she's saying all of this the camera slowly pushes in on her, forcing Steven out of the frame, like he has no answer to her accusations.  He becomes angry at her, and starts trashing the kitchen looking for teeth and pubic hair to make a magic potion, mocking Anna's insistence that there is some other force behind this because he is still unwilling to believe that these things are out of his control.  He's a man of science, there must be a reasonable explanation to all of this.  He ends his tirade by saying "we don't have any of the things we need", which is ironic in their perfect home.  

In the bedroom Anna is lying in bed with her back to him.  He is now docile and apologetic, his rage earlier all pointless and impotent, like when he went to Martin's house and threatened him.  We then see him stood in his darkened house from the outside, a look of grim determination on his face.  He has to do something now.  He leaves the frame, and the light turns out, signifying the end of a chapter and the start of a new one.

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There's a sharp sting of strings as Steven wakes Anna the next morning.  He tells her to come to the basement.  The basement is dark and bathed in a dark cold light.  It doesn't look dirty, but it feels dirty in comparison to the rest of the house.  Here we find Martin, beaten to a pulp and tied to a chair.  Despite this he seems calm, almost relaxed.  He's not gagged yet he doesn't shout for help.  He knows he's still in control, despite what things look like, and we feel that too.  He is still the dominant one in this relationship.  He bites Steven, and then bites himself even harder, taking a chunk out of his arm, which he spits on the ground.  "Do you understand?  It's metaphorical" he says.  An eye for an eye, and also, there is nothing that Steven can do to Martin that he wouldn't do to himself.  Again, Steven is left impotent, he has no control, there is nothing he can do.

We then see Anna washing the blood from the boot of Steven's car, making her an accomplice.  Some discordant strings start to play before they are broken by a gunshot.  She rushes to the basement where Steven is threatening Martin with a gun, but Martin is still unfazed.  He tells Steven "if you're gonna dig a hole in the yard you better make it a big one", and here's where Steven starts to believe him.  He won't take the risk of losing his family, even if he never believed in curses before.  There are some jarring piano chords that accompany this, mirroring his broken state of mind at this point. 

Up in their room Kim and Bob are hanging out.  Kim knows that her father didn't just kill Martin, saying "it would be like killing four people with a single shot.  Wouldn't that be tragic?"  The kids have accepted their fate.  They know that one of them will die.  Kim shows that she thinks she'll live by saying that she's going to live with Martin.  She's also taken up smoking, he's having a strong influence on her.  Bob shows that he thinks he's going to live by saying "they bought me a piano", implying that he'll live long enough to learn how to play it.  Kim then bluntly asks "can I have your mp3 player when you're dead?"  I really like that they're having a classic sibling rivalry game of one-upsmanship, but it's about who their dad is going to kill, it makes the situation even more horrific by bringing some humour into it.  

We then get a really creepy shot of Bob crawling through the house on his stomach, dragging his useless legs behind him.  There's an unsettling silence apart from the squeak of Bob's body against the wood floor.  He finds some scissors and cuts off of his "beautiful" hair as a sacrifice to try and save himself.  We then see Steven in the kitchen, his hands shaking as the weight of the situation constantly pushes him down.  Bob crawls up to him to show him his haircut "dad, look" it's like he's making his case to not be killed, showing what a good son he is.  He then says "I'm gonna water the plants now" and goes to crawl off again before Steven stops him.  We then cut to Steven in the yard in the dark and the rain crying, his knees pulled up to his face.  He has now realised that he has to kill one of his children, but has no idea how or why.

We then see Steven in his kids school, the camera ghosting behind him again.  He is meeting with their headteacher, who mentions an essay Kim wrote on the Myth of Iphigenia by Euripides, the ancient Greek myth on which this film is based.  Steven asks the teacher "do you especially like one of them more than the other", and we realise that he's here trying to find out which of his children is the "best", and which one to kill, which is incredibly dark, but this scene almost plays like a comedy.  Steven is looking for answers anywhere he can, there weren't any at the hospital, so why not check the school?  The scene ends with the teacher telling him "I don't know what to tell you" while the camera fixes on Steven's face as he finds another dead end.

Then we get a real creepy visual of Kim crawling down the stairs, really reminded me of The Exorcist.  She is there with Anna, who is carrying Bob, and they look really tense and fearful, like they're going to confront a beast.  Anna dresses his wounds almost reverentially, as if that would make all of this go away.  In this same vein she then bows down and kisses his feet.  Martin is unresponsive to this, it's all too late.  He simply and coldly tells her "the boy's about to die".  In their bedroom, Anna is trying to get with Steven, maybe feeling guilty for kissing Martin's feet.  She tries to kiss his "clean" hands, no response.  Like at the start of the film she strips and lays on the bed for him, he just turns out the light.  They start talking and come to the conclusion that the only logical thing to do is kill one of their children, they're still young enough to have another.  This is one of the most chilling scenes in the film for me, now that they've reached a point where they have no option but to face up to fate they become cold and logical, eschewing emotions for equations.  Maybe that makes it easier to deal with.

We then see Kim, on her own, crawling down to Martin.  She offers herself to him, wanting to run away with him, but he rebuffs her.  He doesn't want her now he has her affections.  Realising this, she tries to run away on her own, but as she doesn't have use of her legs, can only crawl slowly away.  Steven and Anna go looking for her, Steven walking in front of the car through the almost pitch black streets like he's walking into the unknown.  They find Kim on the sidewalk, her knees bloodied from crawling on concrete.  At home, while tending to her wounds, Kim gives a creepy speech about how she should be the one to die, how her father bought her into this world and it's only right he take her out of this world.  This might be a ploy to gain her father's sympathy after her running away plan failed, but it also may be her accepting fate too, even welcoming it.

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Cut to Anna in the kitchen the next morning.  The daylight looks washed out and weary, the whole picture is depressing, Anna's face is tired and she looks like she's given up.  She reveals to Steven that she let Martin go.  There was no point in keeping him prisoner, it wasn't going to change anything.  She too has accepted fate.  In the next scene Anna is with the children in their room.  She is washing Bob's legs while Kim tries to apologise for her rudeness in the hospital.  This doesn't get a response for Anna, so Kim asks her "do your legs hurt? does your back hurt? has it started yet?" which causes Anna to slap her.  There is a great look of "fuck you" on Kim's face after this.

The next scene starts with a close up of Anna sleeping, which pulls out to reveal Steven stood over her watching.  It's like he's looking for answers anywhere, maybe in his wife's sleeptalking even.  We then get a close up of Bob, whose eyes become literally bloodshot, before they start bleeding properly.  Kim sees this and calls out "Dad, quick.  Bob's dying", but it's not a shout of worry, more like anticipation.  The time has come.  We then see Steven tenderly wiping the blood away from Bob's eyes, and the look on his face here is heartbreaking.  It's almost like he's already saying goodbye.  This whole scene is horrific, and I don't even have children.  I can't imagine what a parent would feel watching this.

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We then cut to Anna in the bedroom.  Steven enters and says "come to the living room".  Anna asks where the children are, and he replies "they're already there" with an air of finality.  Anna, realising what's happening, says "I think I'm gonna wear that black dress you like", like she's attending a funeral.  The scene ends with Steven leaving the warmth and light of the bedroom, to the darkness of the hallway, Steven has entered the dark place he needs to go to in order to do what he has to do.  We then cut to the living room.  Bob is bound and gagged sat on the sofa, blood streaming from his eyes.  We also see Kim and Anna, both tied up like Bob.  Steven enters and places bags over all of their heads.  No one protests.  They all know this has to happen and they have given themselves over to it.  This is the only thing they can do.  This is their fate.

The music rises to a maddening pitch as Steven pulls a woollen cap over his face and starts spinning in a circle with a loaded gun in the middle of the three.  I love how the music breaks before he fires the first shot, so you're not ready for it and has a much greater impact.  It's a miss.  Steven didn't hit anyone.  He pulls the cap back down over his eyes and does it again.  During this there's one single sustained note representing our tension.  He fires a second time.  Another miss.  The note gets higher and higher as he spins for a third time.  He stops facing Bob for half a second, like he could see him, before he shoots, hitting Bob and killing him.  Silence follows, almost a relief washes over the family as fate has been satisfied.  Steven almost looks like he's glad it's all over.  The scene ends with a slow zoom in on the dead bob, bag still on his head, blood slowly trickling from the wound in his chest.  The sacred deer has been killed.

An unspecified amount of time later we see Steven Anna and Kim at the same diner where Steven used to meet Martin.  Martin enters in slo-mo, all attention on him.  He has no shame.  He walks past the family, who all look away, as if they are the ones who are shameful.  He sits at the counter, as we get a close up of Kim squirting ketchup on some fries, the same fries that are Martin's favourite.  There is evil sounding choral music as the camera slowly zooms in on Martin, who is openly watching them.  It's like they've come here to show him "look, we did it.  We did what you wanted".  They get up to leave without looking back, except for Kim.  She looks back at Martin and almost smiles.  He still has her.  The film ends with Martin watching them leave.  He isn't happy about what happened, it was just something that had to happen, and his face betrays no emotion about anything that just happened.

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Well, there we go.  I absolutely loved this film.  Right from the opening shot of a real heart I was hooked.  I get that it isn't to everyone's tastes, but to me, this is everything cinema is about.  The film looks gorgeous, the direction adds to the story without being too flashy, the acting is fantastic, if very idiosyncratic, and the story had me on the edge of my seat and as tense as any film I can ever remember.  This is an uncomfortable film about not very likeable people having horrible things happen to them.  It's bleak, miserable, and utterly brilliant. 

And that's why it's a 10/10 @Spinnaker1981 ;) 

Let´s agree to disagree?

Being the sun of a Surgeon, and having been inside ORs since I was 8, I have to say that no MD can be like he was. Its just impossible! No Surgeon can say he is not responsible for the surgical team (which includes the anaesthesiologist), and, specially, for the patient!

Besides, from the start, I just wished that a bomb would materialise out of nowhere and killed them all! neither deserved to live...

And it would´ve been a much better movie for someone to just had came and slaughtered them to pieces, right @con?

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LimeGreenLegend
2 hours ago, Spinnaker1981 said:

No Surgeon can say he is not responsible for the surgical team (which includes the anaesthesiologist), and, specially, for the patient!

But that's the point.  The second shot of the film is Steven washing the blood off his hands, refusing to take responsibility.  He knows it was his fault, that's why he had to eventually kill Bob.  

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Con
On 10/9/2019 at 6:13 AM, Spinnaker1981 said:

And it would´ve been a much better movie for someone to just had came and slaughtered them to pieces, right @con?

I'm always up for a good slaughter in every film. lol. That's my only negative of the Intouchables, no decapitations!! lmao.

I rewatched it last night as the first time I tried watching it a month ago, I did fall asleep thanks to the slow pace and that style of speech they all use but now I have watched it twice and will reserve my opinions for my review because of how scandalous that 1/10 and 10/10 are at the moment. :D As long as you two can RESPECTFULLY disagree, we will still have a great time discussing it. I am very happy both of you disagree so drastically in scores actually.

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djw180

Just a heads up for those with access to Channel4's on demand / catchup service, probably UK only, not sure. This is available for free at the moment, for another 14 days https://www.channel4.com/programmes/the-killing-of-a-sacred-deer.

I've wathced it and was very impressed. Will say more later when I've sorted out what to write.

 

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djw180

This is a very unconventional, at times unsettling, but brilliant film.

The dialogue is deliberately wooden and takes some getting used to, but I think I get why. It's so you don't get to like or empathise with any of the characters. Liking and or caring about what happens to the Murphys would make it a very different film. You are clearly not meant to like them, for example the scene where the parents sort of say 'well so what if we have to kill one of our children, we can always have another one!'. A different film maker could very easily have taken this story and made in a conventional thriller kind of way; Dr Stephen Murphy the hero struggling to break the curse and save his family, leading to a dramatic ending, with fights almost to death, Martin seemingly dieing then coming back, but in the end wife and both kids are saved and they all live happily ever after. But this is not that sort of film at all and I really like it because of that.

I love the cinematography particularly, the slow, wide shots from a distance, sometimes with characters talking, sometimes we are just watching. The music is brilliant, particular the way it sometimes suddenly changes to quite weird, modern orchestral music; looking at the full credits that I think that was composed by Gygory Ligeti, who's music you probably know from 2001, it's the strange choral music when they find the monolith on the moon.

The plot is vague at times, again I assume deliberately so. We don't know when and in exactly what circumstances Stephen and Martin first met. I don't think we are ever sure if Stephen was at fault for Martin's Dad's death. But it doesn't matter. Martin holds him responsible and Stephen certainly does not believe it was even possible for him to have been responsible, and that is all that matters. I think it's the same as with the wooden dialogue and we're not meant to really care too much about why this all happening, we just watch what happens.

The acting generally is of the highest quality, particularly Nicole Kidman who I think is one of the greatest actors alive (this film had me interested once I knew she was in it), and the supporting cast are all very good too. But here we get to the one small downside for me, and that is Colin Farrell. I just don't think he is quite good enough or maybe it's I just don't like him enough. To be honest I haven't seen that many of his films so it's hard to say. But he is not in the same league as Nicole Kidman and that does slightly detract from their scenes together for me. I also can't help wondering about his accent. I assume that is his natural accent and as there is no particular reason for his character to be an Irish doctor working in the USA it is played that way because he can't do a convincing American accent? But this is a relatively minor point and like the dialogue I got used to him.

To my rating. So far for flim club I have been rating out of 5 to keep things simple. But this film has forced me change that. I couldn't quite give it 5 but it deserves more than 4.

So it's a 9/10 from me and I may go back and re-rate the previous films on a 10 point scale.

 

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LimeGreenLegend

Nice write up @djw180, clearly you have much better taste in films than @Spinnaker1981 :P 

I thought that this film was deliberately Kubrickian, but didn’t realise that the music was by the same composer as 2001, thought now you’ve mentioned it it’s hard not to hear it.  

Lanthimos deliberately writes his characters with no backstory, so a lot of the ambiguity about them comes from that.  

However, I thought Colin Farrell was excellent in this film.  If you want to see him actually be a good actor there are a few other films I can recommend.  Firstly there’s The Lobster, which is by the Same director as this, and then try In Bruges, which is a brilliant dark comedy.

I know you’re also a fan of historical films, so if you liked this definitely check out The Favourite, again written and directed by Lanthimos, a film about Queen Anne starring Olivia Coleman.

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Spinnaker1981

Hey, I never claimed to have good taste in films!!!! Watch out with those assumptions!!! :D

And I stand by my review 100% this movie sucks and I wasted 2h of my life watching it, just to be able to say it!! :P

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LimeGreenLegend

I’m just teasing you dude :P 

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djw180
7 minutes ago, LimeGreenLegend said:

Nice write up @djw180, clearly you have much better taste in films than @Spinnaker1981 :P 

I thought that this film was deliberately Kubrickian, but didn’t realise that the music was by the same composer as 2001, thought now you’ve mentioned it it’s hard not to hear it.  

Lanthimos deliberately writes his characters with no backstory, so a lot of the ambiguity about them comes from that.  

However, I thought Colin Farrell was excellent in this film.  If you want to see him actually be a good actor there are a few other films I can recommend.  Firstly there’s The Lobster, which is by the Same director as this, and then try In Bruges, which is a brilliant dark comedy.

I know you’re also a fan of historical films, so if you liked this definitely check out The Favourite, again written and directed by Lanthimos, a film about Queen Anne starring Olivia Coleman.

It's not all the music by Ligeti and I am not 100% which pieces are, but I assume it's the wierder stuff.

I've seen In Bruges and he is perfect for that role. It's probably the combination of his accent and the way the lines are delivered. I just could not help being reminded of Dougal from Father Ted every time he spoke.

Seen the Favourite as well. That's 10 for me.

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LimeGreenLegend
1 minute ago, djw180 said:

I just could not help being reminded of Dougal from Father Ted every time he spoke.

Now I'm not going to be able to not see that :D 

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Fido_le_muet

Unsettling

Creepy

Unease

Uncomfortable

Disturbing

Watched it yesterday with the Mrs.

First shot is of a beating heart during a surgery. That was perfect just after dinner. Fun fact : we ate spaghetti :D We meet Steven, he is a cardiologist surgeon. And then immediately after, we meet Creepy Martin. That kid seriously ! He is the creepiest guy I've seen in a while. First of all, I don't like his face. He's ugly and he feels like a sneaky treacherous motherfucker. Well done from the director cause I hated him right away and I'm sure that was the point. Good casting. So that kid is so creepy in the way he behaves, moves and talks and is around Steven. Immediately we feel there is something going on between those two. Steven looks weird as well in his relation with the kid. I wouldn't go so far as to say he is kinda attracted to him but it felt that way to me at the beginning. Then we learn that the kid's dad was a patient of Steven and it clarifies things up. So Steven buys gifts to the kid, has lunch with him, drives him around. Almost like they're besties except you can feel there is something off about that relationship and you learn why that is afterwards. 

Then we meet the rest of the Murphy family, a seemingly perfect one. The little boy, Bob is adorable with his long hair, the girl Kim seems very nice, a bit shy at first and the mother Anna feels very smart and calm. She seemed a bit like a know it all when they go to Steven's coworker for barbecue. She seems to want to tell people what they should do. Same with the watering the plants and other chores they mention to their kids throughout. Anyway, they live in a beautiful home, Kim is her daddy's girl, Bob is his mom's baby. They have a good dog who never barks for the whole movie. Everything is perfect. The perfect family. That is until Steven (idiot) invites creepy kid to have lunch at his house. The kid is his usual self : FUCKING CREEPY and he acts nice to everyone and everyone seems to like him. Especially Kim who mysteriously falls in love with him in a millisecond. That was very lame and felt unnecessary. That could have been built on a little bit more. Felt too sudden to me and a cheap way to justify her character's development toward the end. 

Can we talk about the sex ? When Steven and Anna go to bed the first time, and she undresses and ask him, in a completely neutral tone (I'll get back to that specifically in a bit) how he wants her. And she plays dead, and that excites him ! That was definitely a weird sex play but who am I to judge :D And later when she does it again and he ignores her completely and turns off the light :lol: Sorry but I laughed. Bad timing Anna, too much bagage since that first time. Doesn't have the same effect when your kids are slowly dying 😕

So what disturbed me a bit throughout the movie was the dialogue. Every single line is delivered in a neutral tone. Sounds kinda robotic. The sentences are very simple in their construction. And the characters speak like they have no emotions at all. At first it seems a bit curious. I thought it was to give some style to the movie but then later on, after events starts to unfold, dramatic events, they still speak like that ! No emotions, so neutral ! The kids are dying and everybody speaks calmly without emotion. That was very unsettling towards the end of the film. 

Back to the plot. Creepy kid is quickly becoming more and more demanding to Steven. He asks to see him all the time and at first Steven agrees but overtime he has enough but doesn't say it clearly to the kid. We learn that he feels responsible to the kid because his dad died on his operating table. Steven feels responsible for the dad's death but he also don't want to admit that it's his fault because he made a mistake. The movie never says clearly if he really messed up or if the death was unnavoidable. It's up to us, viewers to intepret that. Creepy kid keeps hanging around the hospital, stalking Steven and lying to him about it. I felt that when Steven invites him over, it's the beginning of the end. He opened the door and let the devil in. Somehow, it's as if Creepy Kid manipulates everyone and plants little seeds into each of them to enact his vengeance. 

Then he invites Steven to his home, to dinner with him and his mom. We find out quickly enough that it is another of his stratagems to fuck up Steven's life. He sets up a cheap date for his mother and goes to bed early, leaving them both together. The mom is equally weird and starts to hit on him and lick his fingers because he has "nice hands". It could have worked cause we know Steven has a weird sex life but this is too much even for him cause she's the widow of his deceased patient. So he bails. 

That is too much. He has to tell Creepy Kid to back off. Meanwhile, adorable little Bob starts to have health issues. His legs fail him. He can't walk or stand up. They rush him to the hospital but after a billions tests, he is fine. There is nothing wrong with him. So Anna takes him home when he feels better but he quickly becomes paraplegic again in the hospital's lobby. And back to the room and the exams. Which show nothing more. Everything is normal. His problem is most likely psychological. 

Steven is summoned by Creepy Kid to meet him so he goes to confront him. And Creepy Kid tells him the hard truth, always with his creepy attitude and eye movement and neutral tone. He tells Steven that he has to kill one of his family members to get even or else, all his family will soon become sick and they will slowly become paraplegic, lose appetite, bleed from the eyes and die. And there is nothing he can do, that it's his own fault because he killed his dad so now he is doing this to get revenge. Wow! That was kinda hard to watch. How Creepy Kid delivers his plan like that ! Gave me the chills. 

Steven is shocked but he doesn't want to believe what the kid said. He goes to his son's room to make him eat something and he forces him to eat a donut, going so far as to choke his son with a donut to make him eat something! So violent ! Poor kid ! I wanted to scream at him ! Steven realises that Creepy Kid is insane but also right. He has to find a way out of this. 

But soon, Kim becomes paralyzed as well ! At the hospital, she gets a call from Creepy kid. He tells her to go to the window and by miracle she does ! She walks to the window, much to the surprise of her mother but doesn't see the kid outside. When the call ends, she walks back to her bed but her legs fail her again. Meanwhile, in a cringe worthy moment, little Bob, watching his sister walk again, wants to do the same but he falls from the bed. Seriously, every scene with that adorable boy was hard to watch. he is such a sweet boy ! 

Anna goes to confront Creepy Kid at his home. She asks him why she and the kids have to suffer for her husband's mistakes but he tells her that it's the closest thing to justice and even adds that Steven is in love with his mom. That doesn't seem to impact Anna a lot. What infuriated me was that she went to him to basically tell him to kill her husband and leave them alone. Another proof that every single character in this movie is fucked up ! Except little Bob. The rest of them are creepy and/or weird and we don't like them. I know that's the point of the movie, to have not so likable characters but the strenght of this film is that we're still invested in what becomes of them. We hate them but we don't want to see how miserable they become. That's an impressive feat. Well done. 

When every test in existence doesn't reveal a problem with both kids, they are brought back home. They are tube-fed and can move around with wheelchairs. Steven kidnaps and beat Creepy Kid up, locking him in the basement. He demands that he leaves his family alone but the Kid refuses so Steven beats him up some more. But the kid isn't affected and even bites his own arm to show that he doesn't care what Steven do to him. There is nothing he can do to save his family. Except kill one of his own. 

I forgot to say before but Steven told his family everything about Creepy kid and his plan so they are all fully aware of what's happening. In another creepy moment, Steven and Anna discuss what to do. She says that the only option is to kill one of the kids because it's OK, they can have another one. It could even be an opportunity for more weird sex action ! HOW FUCKED UP IS THAT ?! They are all insane in this movie. Even Steven's coworker is creepy when Anna goes to him for information about the surgery Steven performed on the Kid's dad. In exchange the dude wants a handjob ! So she gives him one ! The movie gets more and more disturbing as it goes ! 

Steven goes to his kids school to ask the director which of them is the best one cause he can't choose which one to kill ! Seriously this film is a succession of creepy fucked up moments ! Kim tries to persuade Creepy Kid to heal her because she loves him so they can leave together but of course he refuses. She means nothing to him. So she tries to escakpe by crawling through the neighborhood... 

Anna has enough and seeing as nothing changes, she frees Creepy kid in the hope that being nice to him will save them. OF COURSE NOT IDIOT ! This kind is the devil ! Soon after, Bob's eyes start to bleed, indicating imminent death. No one knows what to do, they freak out so Steven decides to play russian roulette with his family because he can't choose who to kill. He ties up his family, binds them and blindfolds them and place them on the living room in a circle. He goes in the middle, blindfolded with his rifle and starts to turn around, rifle pointed and shoots at random. He misses once, then he misses a second time and then I thought he would have enough and realise how insane the situation was. I mean there is probably a better solution, another way to solve this horror. But no, he reloads, turns around again and fires ! He takes off his blindfold and OF COURSE HE KILLED BOB ! Sweet sweet adorable Bob ! The only one who wasn't fucked up or creepy or weird ! Adorable Bob who cut his long hair to please his daddy ! He was the nicest so he's the one who dies in this fucked up film ! So so unfair ! 

In the final scene, the family (minus sweet sweet Bob) go to the same diner Steven and Creepy Kid used to go to. And of course Creepy Kid shows up as well ! In an awkward final scene, they all stare at each other and the family leaves but while leaving, Kim turns to look at Creepy Kid and she shows a faint smile. 

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH THIS MOVIE IS SO INFURIATING !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I felt very uncomfortable throughout. It was very disturbing. I felt the need to go see my sleeping baby girl afterwards.

I liked it because it felt like an experience. I went through a lot of feelings during this movie, mostly disturbing feelings but still. I'm happy to have seen it. 

It was a very good movie. It feels more like the work of an artist than a movie. A fucked up artist but still. This is psychological torture. To put these characters through all this ! 

I'll stop there for now but I'll wait for your comments to elaborate on things. 

It's a 8.5/10 for me. 

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LimeGreenLegend

Great write up @Fido_le_muet, glad you're with me and @djw180 on this one :D 

14 minutes ago, Fido_le_muet said:

And then immediately after, we meet Creepy Martin. That kid seriously ! He is the creepiest guy I've seen in a while. First of all, I don't like his face. He's ugly and he feels like a sneaky treacherous motherfucker. Well done from the director cause I hated him right away and I'm sure that was the point.

Felt the same thing, I would happily face off with Freddy or Jason or Jack from The Shining over this kid.  He seems so normal, and in a lot of scenes very childlike, but there is always a malice just under the surface, and you can tell that if he's pushed too far he would be capable of incredible acts of violence.  I also thought he was ugly, but if you see the actor normally, he's a decent looking guy.  Maybe it's the performance, or the direction, or the script, but there is something inherently repulsive about him.

18 minutes ago, Fido_le_muet said:

The kids are dying and everybody speaks calmly without emotion. That was very unsettling towards the end of the film.

Especially when Steven tells Anna "the kids are in the living room" and she just asks if she should wear her black dress, calm and emotionless.  I think this helps to show the theme of inescapable fate.  Even if they were screaming and shouting and crying the same thing would've happened.  By keeping things relatively calm you're able to really think about the situation they're in.

21 minutes ago, Fido_le_muet said:

The movie never says clearly if he really messed up or if the death was unnavoidable. It's up to us, viewers to intepret that.

I love that this is ambiguous, Steven and his anesthesiologist both say the other was at fault, and are both shown to be kinda shitty people, so you don't know who to believe.  @Spinnaker1981 was saying that the lead surgeon is always the one to take blame for anything that happens during surgery, but I think that adds to the story.  Maybe if he did take responsiblity from the start then Martin wouldn't want revenge on him.

24 minutes ago, Fido_le_muet said:

Seriously, every scene with that adorable boy was hard to watch. he is such a sweet boy ! 

Yeah, loved his performance.  Play the new God of War game if you want more of him, he plays Kratos' son and is great in that.  His sweetness kind of doomed him though I feel.  In a film like this, with this tone, you just know that the good people will get fucked in the end.  Like I said earlier, he is the sacred deer, and the gods need a sacrifice.

28 minutes ago, Fido_le_muet said:

I felt very uncomfortable throughout. It was very disturbing. I felt the need to go see my sleeping baby girl afterwards.

Even as someone who never even wants kids, this film made me feel creeped out and protective.  I thought you would have an even stronger reaction than me.

29 minutes ago, Fido_le_muet said:

I liked it because it felt like an experience. I went through a lot of feelings during this movie, mostly disturbing feelings but still. I'm happy to have seen it. 

It was a very good movie. It feels more like the work of an artist than a movie. A fucked up artist but still. This is psychological torture. To put these characters through all this ! 

I love movies that don't leave you with a satisfying happy ending where all loose ends have been tied up, and think more people should experience that, just a few times a year at least.  The biggest comparison I can make to a recent film is Infinity War, at the end the heroes lose, half of them are gone, and the last shot is Thanos just sat there with a faint smile on his face, no satisfaction for the audience at all, but it's the best ending of any Marvel film, and elicited the biggest emotional reaction from the audience, even if it was negative emotions.

You should check out his other films @Fido_le_muet.  They're not as depressing as this one, this was his "horror" movie.  You should watch The Lobster, which is his "comedy".  

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Spinnaker1981

I was not going to say anything else about this movie, but let me tell you:

You guys are all Psychopaths!

I think I enjoyed watching more or less the same I enjoyed watching Jaws IV.... You need to make an effort to finish it. Its just disturbing, boring and disconnected from the actual reality of being an MD! I don´t see how those 2 could ever get to be MDs. Its just out of character.

I will not say never, but the name Yorgos Lanthimos will be one I will search closely because I will only watch another one of his movies either by mistake or by punishment!

 

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Fido_le_muet
On 10/8/2019 at 6:15 PM, LimeGreenLegend said:

We then see Steven tenderly wiping the blood away from Bob's eyes, and the look on his face here is heartbreaking.  It's almost like he's already saying goodbye.  This whole scene is horrific, and I don't even have children.  I can't imagine what a parent would feel watching this.

It was horrific. That's how it felt. 

I forgot to mention in my review. At one point, Steven is driving (when he goes to Martin's house to threaten him) and he drives past a cemetery. In my notes I wrote 'bad omen ?' I wasn't wrong... 

4 hours ago, LimeGreenLegend said:

Even as someone who never even wants kids, this film made me feel creeped out and protective.  I thought you would have an even stronger reaction than me.

I love movies that don't leave you with a satisfying happy ending where all loose ends have been tied up, and think more people should experience that, just a few times a year at least.  The biggest comparison I can make to a recent film is Infinity War, at the end the heroes lose, half of them are gone, and the last shot is Thanos just sat there with a faint smile on his face, no satisfaction for the audience at all, but it's the best ending of any Marvel film, and elicited the biggest emotional reaction from the audience, even if it was negative emotions.

Yeah, I don't think it would have had the same impact if I didn't have a kid. I think it's even worse cause I've only been a father for just over a year. It will pass afterward when I get fed up with her and her teenage girl banters :D 

I'm amazed that you manage to compare this with Infinity War ! :lol: But you are right and it amazes me that a huge blockbuster like that could provoke such a strong emotion. That usually never happens and it brings a new light to the work of the Russo Brothers on the Avengers franchise. It's much more than just a big action movie. It has meaning. I'll stop there with Avengers now ^^ 

3 hours ago, Spinnaker1981 said:

I think I enjoyed watching more or less the same I enjoyed watching Jaws IV.... You need to make an effort to finish it. Its just disturbing, boring and disconnected from the actual reality of being an MD! I don´t see how those 2 could ever get to be MDs. Its just out of character.

I'm sure you feel so strongly about that because you know your stuff when it comes to the medical. I'm sure I would feel the same if the guy was a teacher or a realtor because I know a lot of stuff about that. Movies rarely go into precise things like this. Especially when it's not that important to the story. 

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Spinnaker1981

I don’t feel that strongly... I didn’t enjoy the movie but I don’t hate it! Its just bland and uninteresting and I don’t get why you all like it so much!! What I feel strongly is not understanding why you guys like it so much...  not the movie itself....  

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Con

The Killing of a Sacred Deer (2017)

So much to unpack but I will try and do it efficiently. I could never start this review without stating how fucking much I loved the opening images of the heart in surgery. I'm pretty sure I was a surgeon in another life because i find medicine absolutely fascinating and do watch all manner of surgery videos because to me those folks are the real Gods. So yeah, waiting for the black screen to transition to the life giving organ was just amaze-balls!! I have to find out if that was footage from an actual surgery or if it was a practical effect because if it was, I sure hope that SFX team won an Oscar. I will not lie, that scene excited me because I thought, "guts, fuck yeah, this is gonna be gross and gory." ---- I very much liked the promise of that....was I satisfied? I'll answer that below. 

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I loved the cinematography as it was used expertly to tell the visual story, think about how many angles and camera placements you noticed and this is what adds to the dread you feel because you aren't getting the standard camera placements during something as simple as two people talking, you could be put under a table or just around the corner when a heavy piece of dialogue is being delivered. There is beauty in those tracking shots as we follow behind the characters expecting the unexpected at every turn and those amazing slow zooms into the actors faces when they spoke and when they listened, really helped us see the emotions bubbling beneath the surface of the characters.  I found those tight zooms on the characters helpful and necessary since the characters speak in that monotone-style and would have come across even more wooden...which is one of the film's main criticisms, "the characters speak so robotic."  For me, the way they spoke just hinted that I was in a different universe and found that it made the film more interesting and once I acclimated to their speech patterns, I wasn't as distracted by it... I also think it helped me having seen the film "The Lobster" earlier this year, which is directed by the same director as 'Sacred' and that made it easier to adjust to not just the odd speech but also the strangeness. The way they spoke also worked for me because I have been around people born into affluence and at their parties, everyone speaks so formal and clinical, like they measure their words in order to always say the right thing, afraid to make a mistake.... making them sound like robots, and since Steven (Colin Farrell) and Anna (Nicole Kidman) are both health professionals it was a good fit, I thought a good example of this was when we are informed that Kim (Raffey Cassidy) begins having her period, they speak of it like its just a normal function of the female body and while odd for the average family to be so open about that with strangers, for the Murphys, it works and only would have found the way they speak out of place if say had their occupations been more blue collar types. Another reason I found the way they spoke wonderful was because it added tension once things start going bad ----I was on the edge of my seat the entire time waiting for the characters to explode and arc away from their formal and controlled personalities.

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I honestly felt that what made this film work for me was the performance by the kid, Martin (Barry Keoghan), sadly the people that couldn't get past the way the characters speak probably missed the fantastic acting. Barry Keoghan made this film work. From the moment he is on screen and speaks, I just felt unnerved because he didn't look like he was acting and seemed more like a kid on the autism spectrum who is trying to be normal. He goes from coming across as the victim to actually being the one in control, and the latter makes him more disturbing as he displays controlled rage. But for me the standout actor was no other than the always brilliant Nicole Kidman, her portrayal as Anna was really fantastic as she has to deal with the emotions of being in the dark about everything and having to research things for herself and then create that wonderful animosity towards Steven and when she begins to let him have it for being "pathetic".....whoa....she seethes with venom at the entire situation leading to that spaghetti scene between Anna and Martin which I found just super superb! Anna is there to diffuse Martin's plan and here is where Anna finally gets it....the alternatives are clear from that point and there aren't many. Let's talk about this scene for a bit, it starts off awkward just by the fact that Martin is eating spaghetti in the morning before school!!! and then the scene really gets wonderfully odd when Martin starts telling her about how him and his father ate spaghetti in a similar fashion...So Anna is there to try and get some mercy and Martin tells her that spaghetti story while he eats spaghetti and I loved how the camera stays on Anna's face and we hear Martin O.S. (off-screen) and her expressions are just awesome. In a film full of interesting scenes, this one stood out to me the most because we learn that there is no negotiating with Martin which becomes the most critical thing in the story. 

Let's talk story....The fragmented narrative  was brilliant as the story works because of the underlying tone which I believe you create on your own depending on your imagination, what I mean is that the limited information we get from the start, mainly regarding Martin and Steven's relationship. We have no clue how these two relate and your left to fill in that blank. That blank was disturbing to me because I instantly began to suspect their relationship, especially once Steven gives Martin the watch as a gift. My imagination took their interaction as a mental or physical exploitation of the young man...."Keep our secret and I will rain all manner of gifts on you." But what is the secret? Is the boy his son out of wedlock? Is the boy a young male prostitute? Is the boy autistic and being exploited sexually? Like I said, depending on how you interpret what you are seeing, that will set the films tone for you. I was creeped out because I felt at any moment Steven wouldn't be able to contain his urge and jump on Martin and molest him and come to find out, it's nothing like that and those moments of Martin's curiosity in Steven's body hair had nothing to do with an attraction and it was just Martin being an awkward teenager and the person actually holding all the power turns out to be Martin and his power only grows as the film goes on. I broke down the film down into two sections of psychological horror, the first section was the threat of learning what lascivious secret the two men were holding. The second section is the threat of whatever Martin was doing to cause the family stress and suffering. Both were effective because just as we finally learn the secret and Martin's agenda, we are thrust into the mystery of not just the mysterious illnesses but how Martin is manipulating the illnesses and here  is also where I felt the strength of the film , it's ambiguousness, was also its weakness, this is what I mean...I was okay with not knowing exactly how Martin was causing everything, I liked trying to guess if Martin was a demon, a warlock, an angel, an alien, a voodoo enthusiast, in order to control the illness, or maybe he just put some biological agent on the gifts he gives Kim and Bob (Sunny Suljic), you know, during one of his many visits to the hospital, he used knowing Dr. Steven Murphy, to get around and get access to discarded biohazard virus containers...the problem or weakness is that some people like things fully revealed and exactly what the illness was and how it worked is never explained and made more confusing when we get that scene where Martin is outside the hospital and calls Kim in her hospital room and instructs her to walk, and she magically does just that as if he had some supernatural power. I did expect to learn who Martin was from that point but we don't, next thing you know he is kidnapped and the focus turns to the Murphys from that point on. It wasn't until a few hours later that it dawned on me that perhaps Kim played along with Martin and can explain why his phone call to her enabled her to walk briefly, implying that he had some supernatural control over the condition hence convincing the parents to make that heartbreaking decision. Maybe Kim knew Martin wouldn't let her die and did play along after making a deal with him...and here is why I felt they missed giving it that extra horror moment in the third act. Yes, the part that probably freaked out most people was just a jog in the park for me, and is where the jogger missed making their run more intense. Now I didn't want the thin relationship element but imagine learning that Kim had made a pact with Martin for her to live no matter what, and then only to have Steven knock everyone unconscious, bind and gag them up, practically disabling Kim from being able to reveal Martin's compassion for her life, that would have added that extra element of dread and psychological tension for me as I needed it, because I felt Steven's decision to spin around and shoot blindly was silly and while I appreciated the humor in the film, I mean who can beat Kim announcing that Bob was dying when his eyes began to bleed or the even more hilarious scene where Steven asks the school administrator which one of his children is smarter, implying that the dumber child should be the one killed, those were priceless, I still would have liked for less humor in that gut-wrenching scene and maybe it wasnt supposed to come across as funny but I couldnt help but laugh as he spins around. 

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So while I easily transported to this world the Murphys live in, I had hard times with how none of the medical tests revealed what was wrong with the children, so that theory that Martin stole some biohazard materials from the hospital is basically in the toilet. So is Martin some supernatural being who can manipulate diseases? and if that is true, why couldn't he help his father before he needed Steven to perform the surgery? Another thing I had a tough time with was, once the illness/disease sent the children to the hospital, why wouldn't they go to the police, these are affluent people...he is a respected surgeon and she is a director of a clinic, even if Martin told them he was responsible for his father's death, how could he prove it? I didnt buy that Martin had any solid proof he could prove Steven was drunk, unless I missed that in the film. I dont remember Martin having anything to prove Steven's guilt except Steven's own confession to him. I mean, why would the anesthesiologist friend betray him? Afterall he does get a handjob for disclosing the information.  I know, if the Murphys went to the police the kids would still die but at least they could put Martin on the spot and get him to stop, which seemed like the most realistic thing for them to do. I just dont buy that those two parents would agree to killing one of their own, but I get that this is the world the film is set in, but I can also see how that can turn off the person expecting a more linear course of action in that situation. Like my friend puts it whenever I make him watch a film like this...."I dont have time for metaphors.", so he wouldnt like it and thats too bad because the film is unique and analyzing it further adds to it more than just one viewing.

 Time to answer that question at the start of this review....was I satisfied in the end? Yes and no. But this is no fault of what is on screen and more due to how much horror and terror I have consumed in other films and the promise of the gore and grossness of that opening shot of the heart in surgery was just a bad tease. Dont get me wrong, i understood the horror of coming across someone that could control disease in your loved ones bodies because of an error you made that you cannot take back, that is scary stuff but the mystery of whether the children would die or not does not scare me as much as seeing said children die on screen, while watching this I thought of a similar film i watched that I unapologetically liked and that was "The House That Jack Built", now I know that these are two different films but that film had all the terrors and horrors covered which was right up my alley. That film didnt explain everything either but it does show everything and had me more unnerved throughout, best way I can put it is, I felt safe watching 'Sacred', I didnt feel safe watching "The House that Jack Built". 'Sacred' does have that devilish self biting moment, and I wish they wouldnt have made the "decision" at the end look so silly. I mean, russian roulette would have been more personal and heart-wrenching to watch as it would have not required a blindfold and would have looked less silly to pull off.  So yes, I was let down by the lack of horror gore and I get that it wasnt that type of film, I still like my psychological horror with a dash of quality gore. Again, this negative opinion is mainly my fault for sneaking in films like I Spit On Your Grave (1978) and The Gates of Hell (1980) before I was even a teenager. 

I did feel unnerved while watching Sacred, but the third act lost some of that for me. This was a biological revenge psychological horror film in the unique style of the director, Yorgos Lathimos. I can see now why people consider his  2018 film, "The Favourite" his most "normal" film. I enjoyed watching this film and appreciated having to take time to interpret some of it post-viewing. It is effective due to its amazing performances and yes, I know some people think the acting sucks because its robotic, but that is tough for an actor to pull off since for years they have trained to do the exact opposite and emote everything physically and emotionally. I think the mundane dialogue turns people off but think about how much throwaway sentences you say in one entire day. Just earlier my wife came in the kitchen and said, "The box of crackers on top of the fridge is opened." That line could be in this film.

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Okay time to close this out. Final Verdict...3/5... I enjoyed the story in general but found that the payoff wasn't satisfying in execution. Yes, it is horrific to be put in a position to kill one of your loved ones but I feel I have seen stuff like that done more terrifying and more horrific and the director's style took me away from caring about who was going to die at the end as the dark humor conflicts with the severity of the situation. The moment that haunted me the most was when Bob's eyes start to bleed.....I wanted more of that kind of thing and less unexplained supernatural stuff. I think the reason the film splits audiences because it flips from dark humor to more serious tones and it's hard for a film labeled as a horror film to be both while having its own unique signature directing style. This is a Lathimos Horror film and not a standard horror film and that is a better way to let people know what type of horror to expect. The psychological horror didn't hit me the way some other films have because I didn't think the third act served as nothing more than to shock the viewer with he kidnapping that goes nowhere, we learn nothing new from it, nothing that we didn't learn from the spaghetti scene. The film worked for me with its ambiguity and fragmented narrative, the acting was strong once you make sense of why they speak like they do. Where it failed was in keeping me fully engaged as at times it just slows to a crawl and once the premise was presented and I didnt feel the parents acted realistically and instead became prisoners to Martin as if Steven and Martin were having an affair and they were afraid it would be exposed through photos or something in that fashion. You really have to be in the horror artsy mood to watch this or you might fall asleep waiting for something to happen in the first two acts. Well there you have it....im split on it...I liked many aspects of it but also was let down by its resolution. A film for deeper study and analysis, this film is tailor made for that but its too artsy and too much of a signature style for the person that just wants to get in and get out quickly with everything explained with a bow on top.

Edited by Con
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LimeGreenLegend

Great write up @Con and yeah, that’s a real heart at the start of the film!

I can see how you’d be a bit disappointed in the film if you’re a gorehound, but to me the clinical sterility of the film makes it scarier.  Totally down to your personal taste though.

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Con
27 minutes ago, LimeGreenLegend said:

Great write up @Con and yeah, that’s a real heart at the start of the film!

I can see how you’d be a bit disappointed in the film if you’re a gorehound, but to me the clinical sterility of the film makes it scarier.  Totally down to your personal taste though.

I did think the notion of having someone controlling a disease in you scary and the psycho in me enjoyed the setup to resolve everything at the end, I just thought the execution of the scene took me out of the real dread I should have been feeling.  This film isnt for the basic horror fan. :D I felt a little like you and a little like Spin....I enjoyed some of it but not something I can recommend to everyone and its not the films fault its just an acquired taste...it was horror-lite and there is nothing wrong with that and at least it didn't disappoint with a happy ending, where I would have given it a 2/5. I can totally see why you gave it a high score and why Spin gave it a low score. I was in the middle about it. I think what frustrates people is that there is so much attention to small details like Martin changing the watch band and then we dont get to see how Martin got the family sick. Unlike in Hereditary (2018) where we get to see what is afflicting the family...now that disturbed me and that was sort of gore-lite but very effective when applied.  Another film that disturbed me about seeing a family go through some fucked up shit was Funny Games (2007), what that family goes through is very disturbing.

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Spinnaker1981

You see, @Con the way I see it, there is an happy ending! They continued living their live, that is the happy ending :P My happy ending would´ve been for Martin to get up from that chair and just slaughter them.... that would´ve made that movie ok. Not good, but OK... :P

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