Editor's Note: The following contains spoilers for The Killing of A Sacred DeerIn some ways, The Killing of a Sacred Deer is Yorgos Lanthimos' most direct, explicitly stated narrative taken to lớn its most direct, explicitly clear ending lớn date. Martin (Barry Keoghan) tells Dr. Steven Murphy (Colin Farrell) that, in light of Steven botching Martin's father's surgery resulting in his death, Steven's family (Nicole Kidman, Raffey Cassidy, Sunny Suljic) will die from a mysterious illness with mysterious symptoms, unless Steven himself chooses one to kill. The family starts experiencing all of these symptoms (paralysis, lack of appetite, eyes bleeding), no matter what Steven does. So, Steven spins in a circle with a hat over his eyes & randomly shoots và kills his son Bob (Suljic). In the final scene, we see the Murphy family minus Bob at a diner. Martin walks in, looks at them without their youngest. And, satisfied, leaves the diner và leaves them be.

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Totally makes sense, right? Uh...

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Yes, from a nuts-and-bolts storytelling standpoint, Lanthimos và co-writer Efthymis Filippou's screenplay has its characters say exactly what's gonna happen & then proceeds lớn let it happen. & thankfully, the film is not interested in the mechanics of how Martin can mystically will this poor family lớn undergo these horrors -- while the film ramps up in pace as Steven tries lớn stop Martin's actions, even resorting to kidnapping & torture, there is never a plot to lớn uncover the "how" of his actions. No grand conspiracy, no examination of Martin's past, no revelation of mythological superpowers. The closest moment we get lớn this kind of explanatory detective work comes from Steven's wife Anna (Kidman) discovering through Steven's partner Matthew (Bill Camp) that Steven was likely drunk during Martin's father's surgery -- revealing not the source of Martin's "powers," but further "reason" that Steven deserves to lớn be punished.

But: There is still much to discuss about Sacred Deer's ending, outside of the irrelevant "how" of Martin's grip over the Murphy family. Namely, "why?" A question that everyone in the Murphy family seems interested in asking and accepting -- from Anna's examination of Steven's past sins to the children's complete willingness to take what's happening at face value. The person who takes the longest khổng lồ ask the question & accept his answer? Steven. Và that just might explain his fate.

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"Fate" is not a word I choose lightly. The Killing of a Sacred Deer is directly concerned with fate, with cosmic punishment of human hubris, with our so-called không tính tiền will crumbling under the uncaringly cruel banalities of the universe. In exploring these themes, the film reminded me very much of a modern update on a Greek tragedy. Và wouldn't you know it, Sacred Deer is inspired by an ancient Greek tragedy: Euripides' Iphigenia in Aulis (called out by Lanthimos and Filippou directly, in revealing that Cassidy's Kim wrote an essay on Iphigenia for her high school class).

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In the play, part of a trilogy Euripides wrote in his final years on earth, Agamemnon ponders whether or not to lớn sacrifice his daughter Iphigenia lớn the goddess Artemis, who is purposefully stopping proper winds for Agamemnon's fleet to lớn successfully complete their invasion of Troy. Agamemnon's fatal sin, his tragic flaw, if you will? Vanity -- after the first wave of battles against Troy, he boasted that he was as skilled a battler as Artemis herself. As you might imagine, Artemis didn't lượt thích that too much, demanding the blood sacrifice khổng lồ bring Agamemnon back khổng lồ earth. After furious debate among his family và fellow generals, Agamemnon decides khổng lồ undergo the sacrifice, reasoning that angry Greeks eager for victory would kill his entire family if he didn't.

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In some manuscripts và translations of the play, though it's up for debate whether it's part of Euripides' original texts, Agamemnon surprisingly decides lớn pull a final trick on this plan, replacing his daughter Iphigenia with -- you guessed it -- a sacred deer. Applying this ancient story to Lanthimos' work feels lượt thích enough of a 1:1 translation to start. Steven is Agamemnon. His sin of hubris translates into Steven's reckless drinking và displays of wealth. Martin is both Artemis desiring the balance-restoring sacrifice, and the threat of Grecians killing Steven's family if he doesn't go through with it. But Lanthimos and Filippou aren't interested in just adapting this Greek myth. In fact: They're interested in correcting it. There's no switch for a sacred deer in the final moments of Sacred Deer. No tricks, no weaseling out.

After spending nearly two hours agonizing over how to best the unwavering hand of fate, how khổng lồ make unequal the ever-equalizing force of universal retribution, how khổng lồ ignore the voices of "reason" around him (i.e. His daughter falling in love with Martin & begging to lớn be the one sacrificed, his wife letting Martin escape from their impromptu torture basement), Steven gives in khổng lồ as pure a fate as he can muster. Namely, he puts on a damn hat và spins in a damn circle to lớn decide who he'll kill. That's about as random, as meaningfully meaningless, as admitting subservience to controllers beyond our control as you can get. Artemis wins.

In several moments of the film, Steven's family tries khổng lồ reassert Steven as the man in charge, rather than Martin, to lớn try và pivot to lớn another method of escaping fate. Anna "logically" points out that killing one of the children is a better choice because they can have another. Bob cuts his own hair, placating Steven's early-film grumblings that his hair is too long. Even in the face of an unblinking God, we humans will search for any Earthly source of relief telling us it's okay to blink. From the first shot lớn its last, Lanthimos' Killing of a Sacred Deer is here to lớn remind us that the universe will come khổng lồ collect, and its eyes are forever wide open.