“Lamb:” A24’s biggest letdown

Actor Noomi Rapace interacts with disturbingly cute lamb/human hybrid toddler in the beautiful Icelandic countryside.

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Actor Noomi Rapace interacts with disturbingly cute lamb/human hybrid toddler in the beautiful Icelandic countryside.

Avery Hamlin, Co-Editor-in-Chief

Lamb,” released on Sept. 24, 2021 and directed by Valdimar Jóhannsson, was an A24 film that was expected to rock horror lovers to their bones, but it did quite the opposite. 

The film follows a childless couple living on a deserted lamb farm in the middle of Iceland. It is entirely in Icelandic with English subtitles, although there is not much dialect at all, making it almost a silent film. 

For roughly 30-40 minutes, it follows their day-to-day life as farmers tending to their herd of lambs and sitting in their house. Then, and this is the only truly odd part besides the sudden ending, one of their lambs gives birth to a hybrid human/lamb. No discussion whatsoever, no second thoughts, no questioning, they take in the baby as their own; this is where the plot lost me. 

The most disturbing part of the film was the reaction of actor Noomi Rapace, playing the woman who shows no reaction in her face or eyes when faced with this unsettling birth. Immediately, questions are filling my brain: what is this hybrid and where did it come from? Has this happened before? Why are they so disturbingly calm? There’s no doubt that “Lamb” is a twisted movie; it just feels too twisted to the point of confusion. I wasn’t quite sure until I read a few articles over the plot, but I made the assumption that the couple was suffering from possibly a miscarriage or loss of a child, which would explain their eagerness to adopt this odd monster of a child. 

For another half hour or so, the film follows the couple upbringing this hybrid baby, who (the lamb/human child) slowly grows on the audience; by the end I was completely on board with their decision to raise the adorable, yet very odd hybrid. Walking in, I certainly expected a slow start (A24 is notorious for slow, tortuous plots with intense twists), but nearing 40 minutes, I was already waiting for it to be over. Alas, I gave it more of my time, understanding that the best horror films have the slowest beginnings. 

The ending went out with a big bang (literally), but for such a long and slow movie, the plot twist wasn’t worth it. It was expected when the lamb was born that there would be, at some point, an evil darkness controlling or wanting something; it was simply a matter of when that evil would show itself and create the chaotic horror the audience had been waiting nearly two hours for. Disappointingly, the evil-being that the audience anticipated only made a debut in the last couple minutes of the plot. 

For such a long movie, I was slightly disturbed for maybe 10 minutes at most: initially, when the lamb was born, and again when the movie abruptly ended with all my questions unanswered. I frankly left thinking, “What was the point?” The plot seemed to only begin nearing the last few minutes of the movie, which left me and the rest of the audience wanting more. We all let out a big sigh at the end and even heard a few frustrated laughs. Lingering questions, especially in psychological thrillers, can be an excellent way to engage an audience, demand broader thinking or create an excitement for a sequel, but this film missed the mark. 

Granted, the filming and cinematography was absolutely stunning with the rolling green hills and snowy Icelandic mountains as a surreal backdrop. “Lamb” would have been fantastic if put under another film category, such as psychological thriller or drama, but expecting a horror movie makes it a big letdown. The overall thought process and plot could have had so much potential if simply given a little more horrific action.

 “Lamb” is a perfectly good movie for a slower paced audience with a passion for beautifully captured cinema, but from a horror film fanatic perspective, it was a huge disappointment, especially due to the high expectations of A24. Other A24 films, such as “Midsommar,” “The Witch” and “Hereditary,” set such high standards in which “Lamb” did not surpass. “Midsommar,” a tragically beautiful cult-classic left bones shivering and jaws dropped. “Hereditary,” another stunningly horrific movie, shook fans to the core as well as “The Witch,” a suspenseful plot of witchcraft, set in 1630 New England. Despite the others also being slower films, building suspense and shock to the climax, the climax in “Lamb” was hardly a resolution. In fact, there was no resolution. 

My final thoughts and questions beg the director for either a sequel or a clear explanation behind the evil-being that appears and what its significance is.  

Contact Avery Hamlin at [email protected]