Lamb ★★½

A childless couple, María and Ingvar discover a mysterious newborn on their farm in Iceland. The unexpected prospect of family life brings them much joy, before ultimately destroying them.

There no other obvious way to start this review than by saying: Lamb is an odd one. Beautiful; sure. Evocative; yes. However, it only tantalises at the mythology or events which underpin the narrative, and as such the world it offers is a partial one. How forgiving you are of this will depend on how you weight aesthetics and mood against old fashioned coherence.

It takes a while before the central gimmick of Lamb is revealed. To be honest, it might have been a better idea to delay it even longer. Even better than that, screenwriters Sjón and director Valdimar Jóhannsson could have scrapped the entire concept and come up with something a little less ridiculous.

There are unintentionally funny moments, which make it hard to take Lamb seriously. It makes the central idea of motherhood feel like a gag instead of a plot device. It holds dear life with the quip, yet it all leads to a grave and ridiculous conclusion that was foreshadowed in the film’s prologue with the heavy breathing, a quite bathetic ending. Jóhannsson never fully settles on a specific topic; he seems to just pick them right out of a hat. And when he tries to address one of the many themes, he does so in various wisecracks.

In concept, Lamb feels like a tribute to old folk tales, and there's an element to that in the abrupt (and admittedly shocking) ending. This film may feel too niche and reserved for hardcore horror fans, but still too disturbing and unsettling for the average viewer. Regardless, Lamb is another A24 folk horror that is unique but fails in its execution.

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