Here’s the ending of The Killing Of A Sacred Deer explained, including its ties to Greek mythology. Yorgos Lanthimos has already earned a reputation for his distinct, unsettling filmmaking style, which has been likened to Stanley Kubrick. His films like The Lobster or The Favorite mix genres, baking in elements such as comedy, drama, tragedy or horror without ever fully landing on a specific genre. Another signature of Lanthimos’ work is the strange, almost robotic way characters speak to one another.
One of his most acclaimed films is 2017’s The Killing Of A Sacred Deer from A24, where heart surgeon Steven is seemingly cursed by the son of a deceased patient, who first infiltrates his life and family before seeking some kind of karmic justice for what happened to his father. The Killing Of A Sacred Deer cast Colin Farrell as Steven and Barry Keoghan as Martin, the unreadable teen who sets about dismantling his life until Steven makes an impossible choice.
It’s clear from an early point The Killing Of A Sacred Deer isn’t going to end well for everyone, and things escalate around the midway point. Martin tells Steven that to balance out the death of his father, Steven must choose one of his own family to kill. If he doesn’t than Steven’s family will suffer through different stages of illness like paralysis or bleeding from the eyes before death. The movie sees Steven become increasingly desperate as his son Bob and daughter Kim fall ill to the symptoms, and he and his wife Anna (Nicole Kidman, Eyes Wide Shut) debate killing one of their children.
The Killing Of A Sacred Deer’s title comes from the Greek myth of Iphigenia, one of the daughters of King Agamemnon. When the latter kills a sacred deer belonging to goddess Artemis, he is told to sacrifice Iphigenia to make things right. This story is referenced in the film itself, so Yorgos Lanthimos isn’t being shy about the main thesis of the story. Throughout the movie, there’s also a running theme of the family pretending everything is fine – even when it clearly isn’t – and Steven refusing to take responsibility for his actions; the death of Martin’s father may have been an accident, but Steven had been drinking on the day of the operation too.
The Killing Of A Sacred Deer ends with Steven tying up his family when Bob starts bleeding from the eyes – the last stage before death. Steven then blindfolds himself and spins around with a rifle, firing randomly so he still doesn’t have to make a choice. This eventually results in Bob’s death, and The Killing Of A Sacred Deer’s final scene has the family in a diner some time later. Martin comes in and stares at them from the counter, and they all get up and leave with each taking turns to look at Martin. There’s some debate about Kim’s eating of the fries, as it was established she and Martin had a romantic connection and fries are his favorite food. Her eating of them suggests she’s either still into Martin despite everything that’s happened or it’s a sign of defiance, as she can now eat whatever she wants after overcoming the curse he inflicted on her.