Yorgos Lanthimos is no typical oddball filmmaker. Wowing the world with films like Dogtooth and the indelibly poignant The Lobster wasn’t enough, nor would audiences have let it been. A new trailer for The Killing of a Sacred Deer, which continues an inexplicable animal theme in the titling of some of his films, just dropped and it still looks about as hypnotically strange and unsettling as one could ever hope for.
The plot, quite simply, goes as follows: “A surgeon forms a familial bond with a sinister teenage boy, with disastrous results.” That’s the very brief Wikipedia summary, but in all fairness, this is probably the kind of film you’d want to go into blind. (A not-so-subtle reference to The Lobster…) What makes the trailer for The Killing of a Sacred Deer so thrilling and intriguing is the lack of information and the strangeness in both the setting and the characters featured. Martin (Barry Keoghan) turns up one day at Steven and Anna Murphy’s (Colin Farrell and Nicole Kidman) home, bringing gifts that match the family’s hobbies. Yet, something is deeply amiss from the word go. As it was in the first trailer, everything from Kim’s (Raffey Cassidy) the creepy harmonizing to Steven dropping his own son, Bob (Sunny Suljic), on the floor of the hospital reeks of eeriness. Finally, Martin’s matter-of-fact declaration that “they will all get sick and die” alongside footage of Bob’s bleeding eyes really drives the point home.
Lanthimos’ work is never actually basic, even if you could distill their premise into something like that one-liner that Wikipedia provided. Those familiar with his films will no doubt be rubbing their hands with glee at the suspense that’s already building from this minute-long trailer alone. One can’t help but compare this new trailer to one released for The Lobster, which has a similarly claustrophobic narrative bursting out of the frame through cinematography and soundtrack.
From what little footage we have, The Killing of a Sacred Deer looks luscious, as can be expected from longtime Lanthimos collaborator Thimios Bakatakis. Beyond that, the performances already feel enough to keep the hype up. Veterans Farrell and Kidman are predictably capable. But Keoghan is the real find. He had his massive break this year as lovable George in Dunkirk and had previously starred in Yann Demange’s Troubles-centric ’71. This mix of the old crew and the new stacks up to make one of the most anticipated indie releases this year.
The Killing of a Sacred Deer is slated for release on October 22, 2017.