Lamb Movie Review
First-time writer and director Valdimar Jóhannson makes his feature debut with LAMB, a slow burn with a deliberate and contemplative pace. Dealing with grief and loss through dark folk tales and an overwhelming sense of dread.
The film is about a childless couple who live on a very secluded farm in Iceland. The unexpected arrival of a mysterious newborn brings an exciting possibility of a family, but sinister forces are at play. Jóhannson and co-writer Sjón (who is also co-writing Robert Eggers’s upcoming film THE NORTHMAN) have crafted an intimate look at a broken family searching for happiness.
Noomi Rapace and Hilmir Snær Guðnason play the couple to great effect, with Rapace especially delivering a performance layered with emotion and pain. She and Hilmir play well off each other as a couple obviously dealing with a shared traumatic past.
Viewers may find themselves reminded of another A24 film, Robert Eggers’ THE WITCH, each has similar vibes that may or may not have supernatural entities watching and possibly interfering with the main characters.
Jóhannson sets up the atmosphere by just showing a farmer and his wife go about the motions of taking care of their property. Birthing sheep, taking care of the land, and fixing their cantankerous tractor is shown with a backdrop of beautiful landscapes and cinematography. Coupled with an equally moody score from Þórarinn Guðnason it puts the viewer into a mood of unease. That subtle dread builds slowly, almost creeping up on you.
The deliberately paced first half of the film may put viewers off, but the direction is clear and steady, there is a dreamlike etherealness that permeates the beginning and clings on in the end when the reality of the fairytale the couple has been living in comes crashing down.
There is comedy and horror melded together by sweet and tender moments, all the while the absurdity of what is happening feels strangely normal. What I liked most is that LAMB never strays from its premise, it is dialed in from the first scene to its climactic end, it may not be for everyone, but if you are at all into folk-horror, and dark fairytales, this is one to seek out.
3.5 out of 5