Lamb (2021) Review

Spoiler-free so you can read before you watch

Lamb (2021) Review

Horrorific content by christina on November 03rd, 2021 | Movie Review | Slow Burn, Drama, Mutant, Desolate, Wildlife, Folk Horror

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A couple discover a mysterious half-lamb/half-human newborn on their farm in Iceland. The unexpected prospect of family life brings them much joy, before ultimately destroying them.

If you love foreign horror, quirky folk tales, or both, then the Icelandic pastoral thriller Lamb just might be up your alley. Brought to you by director Valdimar Johannsson, Lamb is one of those movies that comes attached to a truly unique tone. Reminiscent of modern masterpieces along the lines of Robert Eggers’s The VVitch or Ari Aster’s Midsommar, yet somehow also entirely its own thing, Lamb is also the type of film that’s sure to leave you thinking long after the credits roll. Starring Noomi Rapace and Hilmir Snaer Gudnason among others.

Mother. Nature.

Lamb Review

This is the story of Maria (Noomi Rapace) and Ingvar (Hilmir Snaer Gudnason), a palpably unhappy farmer couple living in an isolated, mountainous landscape. The two are incredibly serious and more than a little sorrowful, never so much as cracking a smile and speaking very little. However, they go about the daily business of tending their land and raising their livestock as dutifully as can be anyway.

Eventually, it becomes apparent that Maria and Ingvar don’t exactly have the land to themselves. A strange entity has been roaming around at night, spooking the livestock and spending time in the couple’s barn. Then one day, one of the couple’s pregnant sheep gives birth. However, it quickly becomes apparent that this is no ordinary lamb. Although it’s not immediately obvious what makes this lamb so special, the couple immediately decides it will be taken indoors, bottle-fed, bedded down in a crib, and raised as if it’s their own child.

The newborn lamb – called Ada by her adoptive parents – brings a strange but joyful energy into the home Maria and Ingvar share together. But, as is often the case in movies like this, joy doesn’t last for long. There’s the matter of Ada’s true parents to contend with, of course, as well as the menacing presence of Ingvar’s visiting brother Petur. So who is Ada really, and where does she really belong?

Lamb is one of those movies that’s best gone into as cold as possible. This is a slow-burn type of film that reveals more and more about Ada, her appearance, and her strange origins one detail at a time – a method that’s most effective when you have no idea what you’re ultimately in for. And Ada herself is, in fact, a very intriguing creature who’s at once strange, endearing, and eerie in equal parts. Johannsson also does a beautiful job creating an atmosphere that’s really intriguing despite also feeling lonely and isolated.

Lamb is visually stunning, as well, thanks to the vision of cinematographer Eli Erenson. The farm and surrounding landscape Ingvar and Maria call home is foggy, chilly, soulful, and spooky. The special effects and CGI used to achieve some of the more intriguing aspects of the film are well-done and not overused, so they add to the film instead of distracting from it.

However, despite all its appeal, Lamb never quite achieves its full potential. If you’re looking for serious chills and scares, you won’t find them here. There’s plenty here to disturb you and leave you thinking for a long time to come, but that’s about it. You also can’t help but want more from some of the characters and dynamics introduced in this film. But this is a film that’s so artfully done and so original in the story it tells that you’ll find it hard to look away all the same.

Worth Watching?

Lamb never does reach a point where it shakes you to your core, nor does it terrify you in any real way. But it really leaves an impression and is just about guaranteed to make you curious about what Johannsson does next. We can only hope it has half the texture, atmosphere, and delightful weirdness Lamb does.

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