The Killing of a Sacred Deer is a deeply disturbing yet fantastic film that feels almost Kubrick-like in its execution. There's simply nothing like it. As a Blu-ray, the video and audio presentations are both great, but there's only one, albeit informative, special feature. Still, this release comes Highly Recommended!
Yorgos Lanthimos will hopefully be a household name in the coming years. The filmmaker just has an uncanny knack for the uncomfortable and weird while telling very compelling and twisted stories that will no doubt entertain us and make us think about it long after viewing his work. Coming off of films like The Lobster and Dogtooth, the Greek filmmaker unleashes his best film to date with The Killing of a Sacred Deer, which could be Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut’s sibling in both style and tone.
The way Yorgos uses his camera is as elegant as it is unsettling; the movie opens with a closeup of open heart surgery, blood and veins and all. Next, we meet cardiologist Steven Murphy (Colin Farrell) and his anesthesiologist Matt (Bill Camp), as they casually walk down a long hospital hallway, talking about wristwatches. On the surface, Steven has a beautiful family, including his wife Anna (Nicole Kidman) and their two kids, the teenage Kim and younger brother Bob. Everything seems on the up and up, but when Anna and Steven retire to the bedroom for some intimacy, Yorgos’ dark humor rears its head. Steve likes to use General Anesthetic on Anna during sex.
Meanwhile, a teenage kid named Martin (Barry Keoghan from Dunkirk) initiates a mysterious relationship with Steven. Martin seems like a lovely, but odd child with his simple, yet off-putting smiles, but these two have a dark connection that ultimately leads to Steven having to decide if Anna, Kim, or Bob will have to die. If Steven doesn't choose one, all three are doomed. From here, the horror only grows larger in such a quiet, yet powerful way with a haunting score that emphasizes the percussion with every character movement.
Instead of having over-the-top characters go crazy throughout the film, Yorgos had his actors completely play each character in a subdued state, which adds more terror on screen, because while we see everyone act calmly, we can clearly see everyone on the verge of death. What makes Martin such a horrifying character is his confidence in his actions and dialogue, as if he knows something more than we do, and his ability to keep his cool in horrible situations.
Most of the film uses sets that are predominantly clean and white with blues and silvers in the background. It’s almost as everything is ready for an operating table and utterly sterile and clean, but in the climactic scene of the film, the tone turns very warm and gothic, as if we are in hell. It’s quite amazing, really.
The Killing of a Sacred Deer is a film that will no doubt leave you in an anxiety-induced state, and make you question your own thoughts on family, guilt, and redemption. Every performance is spot on and perfect, and, with Yorgos’ camera work, you’d think Kubrick came back to lend a hand.
The Blu-Ray: Vital Disc Stats
The Killing of a Sacred Deer comes with a 50GB Blu-ray Disc from A24/Lionsgate. There is an insert for a digital download code here. The disc is housed in a hard, blue plastic case.
The Killing of a Sacred Deer comes with a 1080p HD transfer and is presented in 1.85:1 aspect ratio. Most of the film's color palette is a sterile and colorless vibe. Bright white walls and floors in the hospital look well-balanced and are easily distinguished from the off-white ceilings other medical equipment. Even the white bed sheets and pillowcases show different shades of white, giving this image a great color contrast. Blues in these scenes also stand out too very well and add to the film's overall cold nature.
With these bright colors, it perfectly contrasts with Colin Farrell's big bushy black beard and gives him an ominous look. The color spectrum changes when inside Murphy household to warmer colors of dark wood and red to orange furniture, giving the film an antique look of sorts. All of these colors are bright and bold, even in the darker settings. Blood illuminates the screen with different shades of bright and dark blood.
The detail is sharp and vivid throughout too. Farrell's salt-and-pepper beard shows individual strands sticking out of place, while you can see the intimate stitching of Nicole Kidman's unmentionables. The very first image is of a beating heart inside someone's chest, and the detail allows for clear views of veins, muscles, and fat tissue. It's disturbing, but excellent. Black levels are always deep and inky without any crush, and the skin tones are very natural. There are no major issues with any banding, aliasing, or video noise to speak of either.
This release features a lossless 5.1 DTS-HD MA mix that does a great job with its sound design. There aren't a ton of explosions or big action moments -- this film is a slow burn and deeply suspenseful -- so don't expect a ton of activity from the rear speakers. That said, the mix does highlight some ambient noises, like people chatting in the diner or hospital.
Most of the sounds come from the front speakers, which always provides a sense of dread and tension in each scene. The big sound effect, for the most part, comes with the sound of a rifle, which packs a massive gut punch thanks to the powerful, low-end bass. The main highlight is the musical score, which is a series of crescendos similar to The Shining. It has a great effect. The dialogue is always clear and easy to understand and free of any pops, cracks, hiss, and shrills.
There's only one Special Feature on this disc. It's informative, but a bit fluffy.
An Impossible Conundrum (HD, 23 Mins.) - A little better than your average EPK fluff, the cast and crew talk about making the film with talking head interviews, clips of the film, and very short bursts of behind the scenes footage. Topics range from casting, the story, why the actors came aboard, the setting, and film's intense themes. Worth watching if you're a face of the film.
The Killing of a Sacred Deer is a deeply disturbing yet fantastic film with great performances and a Kubrick-like direction from Lanthimos. There isn't anything quite like it and you won't soon forget it. The Blu-ray's video and audio presentations are both great and the on extra has some good info, even if it's standard EPK type of fluff. Highly Recommended!