I don't know what to make out of the world anymore. Maybe nobody ever did - maybe it's always been nonsense. But the world seems on fire at the edges and burning inward, and all I see in most people's eyes is exhaustion, panic. Once upon a time we tried to make sense of the chaos by putting it inside a story - there were myths and legends and fables that sorted us into types and archetypes, heroes and villains. Once upon a time there were Once Upon A Times.
There was for example Iphigenia and her father Agamemnon, a girl sacrificed by (or sometimes saved from) the deadly grasp of a vengeful goddess; and there was Job, sad Job, the man whose everything was snuffed out to masturbate the brains of bored deities. Those stories taught us a lesson about who we were, who we are - they offered us answers opposite the absurd. But the world is absurd, our age is deplorable, and so along comes something brilliant and horrible (in the awesome Old-Testament sense) like The Killing of a Sacred Deer, which blocks the exits and lights the match. Burn, Yorgos, burn.
In Yorgos Lanthimos' previous film The Lobster actress Olivia Colman lays out the rules of that romantic dystopia in a hysterically funny little speech perched beside Colin Farrell's hotel room bed, each staccato comic swerve only adding to the WTF humor. It is funny business and just like business it is quickly put to bed - gotten out of the way.
The What's What in Sacred Deer comes at about the mid-point and it's delivered even quicker - an expulsion from Barry Keoghan delivered furiously in between breaths, as if the Hand of God (perhaps with the gleaming bearded visage of Michael Haneke) will swing down from the sky -- trying to make sense of anything for longer than the slightest of milliseconds is the ultimate sin, the harbinger of a quick brimstone slap.
No one will warm to A Sacred Deer like they did The Lobster. Humor exists now only in its absence. The numbness of post-apocalypse - a generally anesthetic aesthetic. It isn't here for you - it won't get your heart beating again. Lanthimos is pushing his asymmetrical thinking into off-putting nooks and crannies, purposefully, clinical corners of our current modern nightmare and existential crisis - all there is left to do is spin, and spin, and spin some more, big bangs trailing. Picked off, one at a time, our plates picked clean, we stride valiantly through the molasses sludge, quacking drones slowed down to disharmonic chords, cross streams. The violin wires strain and slice our tendons. Art will be the death of us all.