Is The Killing of a Sacred Deer What it Stands to Appear to – And Should This Film Call A Spade A Shovel?
The Cost of Blood, Mythology, Dreaded Moral Quandaries and the Existential Terror is what this American Tale has hiding well beneath. (Loud echoes of the 80s’ The Shining’s many layered levels of hidden meanings from Stanley Kubick’s Masterpiece), Sacred Deer too will have us questioning philosophy, sin and human nature to no end!
Greek Director Yorgos Lanthimos sets his sights on modern mythological debts that can only be paid with blood. Exploring Greek Tragedian Sacrificial themes such as from Agamemnon and Euripides: Colin Farrell’s ‘Steven’ is presented with a serious quandary from a strange new friend. A wrathful tale where Steven must kill one of his family members, if he doesn’t they will all die one by one, first by losing their ability to walk, to eat, then hemorrhaging from the eyes. These Greek myths are brilliantly translated into the ‘American idyllic way of life’ of a heart surgeon and his current price to pay for atonement from his ‘sinful’ past – Sound familiar?
“General anaesthetic?” asks Nicole Kidman’s Anna, before lying herself across the bed in a dead-like pose, feigning unconsciousness for her husband Steven’s ritualistic foreplay-pleasure strangely bordering on necrophilia.
“A surgeon never kills a patient; only an anesthesiologist can kill a patient” or is it the other way around? Steven is taking on the Sins of Modern Day America as a whole, which has claimed countless lives in the brutal path of bloodshed throughout history in a nation’s pursuit of progress, power and pleasure. This price Steven must pay is in the form of a ‘Curse’ with the cruellest intention, bordering on methodical. Themes of Moral quandaries that run through time such as King Agamemnon sacrificing his own daughter Iphigenia to raise his chances of winning a war with the Trojans is just one of them and they only get a hell of a lot more complicated. A brilliantly told edgy crash between the modern and the ancient world.
It is the story of ‘A life for A life’ told through mythologically entangled consequences that take no prisoners back then, and certainly not now. Using laws of the Ancient Greeks in a modern day backdrop and dishing out these justices in an ideal suburban household are part and parcel. These justices being answered with the purest answer of them all – death. Death is Answered with Death in the good old Ancient Greek’s Playbook played out in its most unforgiving form.
All these debts Steven must account for in way of payment in ‘Taking Life’, in a civilised day and age that is only a mere 2500 years later in literature still captivates and holds us to ransom in the ‘exact same tone of blood’ that history never repeats itself – Like Hell!