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HIC recommends: AMERICAN ANIMALS and THE KILLING OF A SACRED DEER

American Animals | Bart Layton | 2018 | USA | Cert 15 | 116m

Our film this week was due to have been CALM WITH HORSES, a contemporary crime drama set in rural Ireland. An assured debut from director Nick Rowland, it examines a drug gang member’s clash of loyalties between his employers and his own family.

Calm With Horses | Nick Rowland | 2019 | UK / Ireland | Cert 15 | 100m

CALM WITH HORSES features a wonderful cast of rising stars, one member of which, Barry Keoghan (on the left in the still above), has appeared in no fewer than four films we’ve screened at HIC, and it’s two of those that we’re featuring as our recommended titles this week (at the time of writing, CALM WITH HORSES is not yet available to watch in the UK.)

(UPDATE 17 APRIL: A digital release for the film has now been scheduled for 27 April. Read more about the film and where to find it via this Screen Ireland news story).

Let’s start with AMERICAN ANIMALS, a 2018 thriller from the USA telling the story of a daring art heist.

Keoghan plays one of four young college friends from Kentucky who plot to steal rare books from their university’s Library in a misguided quest for personal glory. Based on a true story, the film cuts between the acted story and contextual interviews with the real people behind this extraordinary tale, a particularly effective method of storytelling with documentary filmmaker Bart Layton behind the camera.

American Animals | Bart Layton | 2018 | USA | Cert 15 | 116m

The film was nominated for a total of eleven prizes at the British Independent Film Awards 2018, winning two (Keoghan received a nomination for Best Supporting Actor), alongside other prizes including the Jury Prize at Deauville and Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award nominations at Sundance and SXSW. Critics loved it, describing it as a film that “reaches strange and savage heights … engaging with huge philosophical questions about the nature of identity in the modern world” (The Times).

We showed the film at Vue Cinema in November 2018. It is currently available to stream, rent or buy on a wide range of platforms including Amazon Prime, Sky Go, YouTube and Apple TV.

For our second film we’re recommending a title from one of our favourite directors, Yorgos Lanthimos, THE KILLING OF A SACRED DEER.

The film stars Colin Farrell as Stephen Murphy, a respected surgeon with a happy home life and a loving family. After one of his patients dies on the operating table, Murphy gradually takes the dead man’s 16-year-old son Martin, hauntingly played by Barry Keoghan, under his wing. Martin’s behaviour slowly becomes more and more sinister until, in order to protect his family, Murphy has to make an unthinkable sacrifice.

The Killing of a Sacred Deer | Yorgos Lanthimos | 2017 | UK / Ireland | Cert 15 | 121m

Keoghan’s mesmerising performance as Martin was recognised when he won the Breakthrough Artist prize at the Dublin Film Critics Circle Awards for his work on this film and DUNKIRK. Critics described THE KILLING… as “a profound meditation on karma, predestination and guilt … near career-best work from all involved” (Empire Magazine) and one that “reinforces what a distinct voice Lanthimos is” (South China Morning Post).

HIC showed the film at Vue Cinema as the closing title of our 2017 programme. If you like your films unsettling and with a hefty slug of pitch black comedy, you can find THE KILLING OF A SACRED DEER on platforms including YouTube and Sky Store.

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