The Killing of a Sacred Deer

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
The Killing of a Sacred Deer Movie Poster Image
Skillful, fascinating, but very disturbing art-horror movie.
  • R
  • 2017
  • 121 minutes

Parents say

age 17+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 17+
Based on 2 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Raises many complicated topics, not the least of which is the notion of sacrificing members of your family to save the whole. Also, how feelings are represented: Is it good to talk about them, or should they be hidden?

Positive Role Models & Representations

The characters are mostly enigmas who are used to tell a larger story; they're victims and don't behave in any admirable way.

Violence

Lots of blood, with blood stains shown. Disturbing imagery. Punching, slapping, biting, spitting out a broken tooth, spitting bloody chunks of flesh. Bleeding from eyes. A rifle is shot. A child is threatened. Characters die.

Sex

A married couple has sex; she pretends to be under anesthesia while he kisses her body, and he touches himself under his clothes to prepare. The woman is shown both topless and (briefly) bottomless. A man's bare bottom is seen. A teen girl strips to her underwear to seduce a teen boy. A woman attempts to seduce a married man by kissing/sucking on his hands and fingers. A verbal story of stimulating a man to sexual climax. A woman gives a man a "hand job" in a car; nothing graphic shown.

Language

A use of "f--k" plus a use of "ass," "stupid," etc.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Both adult characters and a teen smoke cigarettes. Social drinking. It's said that the main character hasn't had a drink in three years and it's suggested that he was drunk while performing a surgery. He's later seen drinking a beer.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Killing of a Sacred Deer is a psychological horror movie about a troubled family and a kind of curse that befalls them. It's very violent and disturbing, with lots of blood/blood stains, as well as punching, slapping, biting (and spitting out chunks of flesh), bleeding from the eyes, gun use/shooting, and death. There are also several strong sexual situations of various types, including both partial nudity (bare breasts/bottoms) and brief female full-frontal nudity. Language is infrequent but contains one key use of "f--k," as well as "ass" and one or two other words. A teen boy and adult characters smoke cigarettes. Some social drinking is shown, and a character is said to have stopped drinking after perhaps drinking too much at the wrong time. While not for kids, this is an artful, highly skilled, and very challenging film that may appeal to hardcore cineastes, just as the director's The Lobster did.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byAnna Q. August 24, 2018
Adult Written byTornadosplash44 June 13, 2018

Brilliant, but disturbing film that puts children in danger

This was a great film because it was different and unique. I loved the storyline as well as the acting! The film does contain some coarse language, although it... Continue reading
Teen, 17 years old Written byPipeCine May 6, 2018

Do you play God or Devil?

The very first time I heard about this matchless director was about three years ago, in mid-March 2015, when "The Lobster," his fifth work as a filmma... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written bytoby woby July 16, 2018

WTF is this

This is.... um..... something. Quite strange, has purposefully inhuman acting, which made me very unsympathetic for anyone in this movie. It does get disturbing... Continue reading

What's the story?

In THE KILLING OF A SACRED DEER, surgeon Steven Murphy (Colin Farrell) befriends a 16-year-old boy named Martin (Barry Keoghan), following Martin's father's death on the operating table. After a time, Martin becomes closer to Steven and his family -- including his wife, Anna (Nicole Kidman); his teen daughter, Kim (Raffey Cassidy); and his young son, Bob (Sunny Suljic). Martin even invites Steven to his own home for dinner, where Martin's mother (Alicia Silverstone) flirts openly with the happily married Steven. Then one morning, Bob's legs go numb, and he's unable to walk and unwilling to eat. Martin visits again and explains that Bob's condition will worsen -- and the rest of his family will follow -- unless Steven makes a terrible sacrifice.

Is it any good?

Following Dogtooth and The Lobster, Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos delivers a brutal, skillful psychological horror movie. It's clear that he's unafraid to peer into humanity's most uncomfortably dark depths. Drawing easy comparisons to Stanley Kubrick because of his chilly, cavernous spaces and mid-level lighting, Lanthimos also recalls the great French master Robert Bresson with his method of stripping down performances to an emotionless essence. The actors' line readings can seem stiff, but it's also possible to read anything into them.

Lanthimos' subject matter in The Killing of a Sacred Deer is something else, pushing far past whatever Kubrick or Bresson ever intended, exploring feelings of love, guilt, fear, rage, and more, and showing them as squirmy and unattractive. Essentially, Lanthimos' movies could be about the way we feel we must hide our feelings -- and the fear that showing them could make people uneasy. But psychological and thematic readings of the movie are for later. Actually watching it is both spellbinding and supremely disturbing, although overall more satisfying than something like Darren Aronofsky's equally bizarre mother!.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about The Killing of a Sacred Deer's use of violence. How much is shown? How frequently? Is the violence shocking? Does it have a point? What's the impact of media violence on kids?

  • How is sex depicted? Which moments involve love and trust, and which don't? Parents, talk to your teens about your own values regarding sex and relationships.

  • What do you think the movie is trying to say? Is it really about choosing which family member to sacrifice to save the rest, or is something else going on?

  • Is the movie scary or disturbing? What's the difference?

Movie details

For kids who love offbeat movies

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