I've been a movie enthusiast my whole life and been writing movie reviews for over 156 years.
Valdimar Jóhannsson and Sjón
From A24, the studio that brought you Midsommar, Lady Bird and other art films that one person you can barely stand won’t shut the f*ck up about comes the Icelandic “horror” movie Lamb.
Not to be confused with The Other Lamb about the creepy cult of white people.
No. Less creepy.
From A24, the studio with the website charging $45 dollars for the Director’s Cut of Midsommar and $60 for the screenplay book of Hereditary. That must be how A24 makes a profit since their movies only get screened in the smallest of theaters.
Yes. Lamb’s story is so thin one could summarize it in about 3 sentences but since I have SEO and word count boundaries I have to pad this much better than the Lamb filmmakers did to justify their running time.
Again. Yes. And thank you for asking that question again to add more words to this review while I type and think how to bloat the synopsis…
Because you really like shots of fields and flower crowns.
Synopsis Properly Sheared
Speaking of fields and flower crowns, this is an A24 movie so you’ll get plenty of those if you choose to see Lamb.
Lamb-ada, The Forbidden Dance opens on a farm somewhere in Iceland. It’ll take you a while to see the farm because there’s an arty opening shot of the camera going through the fog. And there’s some sheep as well. Fog and sheep and a languid opening shot? You have been warned this movie will be 30 minutes too f*cking long.
We finally meet our protagonists.
Maria (Noomi Rapace) and her husband Ingvar (Hilmir Snaer Gudnason) are a hardworking couple doing stuff with sheep and tractors and other farm related things.
I know and thank Hilmir Snaer Gudnason for it because for the first 20 minutes of this movie all we see is Maria and Ingvar do farm work.
By the grace of Gudnason, I have no idea.
But we get that Ingvar and Maria are relatively content with their lives. But then a discussion about time travel occurs and there’s an awkward silence.
So do I.
We get the feeling, as it’s never spelled out, that they lost a child, as in their child is dead and not lost in an Icelandic mall. Or maybe the child died of boredom from the first act of this movie.
Back to the exciting world of fixing tractors!
A couple of the sheep are giving birth. Maria and Ingvar deliver them with no fuss or muss.
Maria and Ingvar take one of the lambs into the house with them. They name her Ada because Tacocat and Tenet were taken. They wrap her up in a blanket, take out a dusty crib that’s been in the garage, and put Ada in it. They place the crib right next to their bed. They post pictures of Ada on Facebook and Instagram and everybody clicks like because wtf, why not?
I’m not a farmer and have no idea about lamb husbandry or whatever you actually call it, but that doesn’t seem like normal postnatal lamb procedure.
Maria and Ingvar have never been more content with little lamb Ada-
-Let’s just get the “Maria had a little lamb” line out of the way, shall we?-
-never been more content with little lamb Ada. Except Ada’s actual sheep mom has been outside their window bleating for her newborn. Maria and Ingvar are just going to ignore it because Ada is theirs and it’s totally not f*cked up at all to sleep with a lamb in your room and dress it up in little children clothes.
At least Maria and Ingvar have found happiness. It seems Ada is happy too, but the little lamb is undergoing changes you don’t normally see in domestic animals unless there’s some Deliverance style violation going on. But let’s not pad the word count dwelling on that particular image, shall we?
Looks who’s coming to visit! It’s Ingvar’s brother Petur (Long Icelandic Name I Will Not Look Up To Write). He’s just in time to meet the new addition to the family. Just be sure to tell him no veal will be served.
What Works With Lamb
- Remember Halloween Kills and all the violence per frame? Well, there’s not a lot of violence in this movie, but when it does occur the effect is pretty jarring. Or maybe it’s just that it’s woken you up from your stupor.
- A genuinely shocking ending that’s also logically sound. Is it worth sitting through this to actually get to the end? Not really.
What Doesn’t Work With Lamb
- Speaking of shots of fields, it feels like Terrence Malick directed this because a 105-minute running time could have been trimmed to an effective 80 if we weren’t subjected to shots of wavy fields or scenes of tractor maintenance.
- Ostensibly labeled “Horror”, there might be parts of Lamb that could qualify as unsettling if you were grading on a curve and were feeling magnanimous, but the scariest part of this movie is how long you watch it before you realize it won’t get any scarier than _____. And even that’s not very scary.
You flocked to theaters to see Halloween Kills yet stayed at home for Last Night in Soho. But at least you won’t subject yourself to this simply because of the A24 logo. Lamb isn’t a terrible movie, just thin on story and scares. You won’t hate that you’ve seen it, but if you’re an A24 stan just see Saint Maud or The Green Knight again.