Lamb ★★★

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

A quiet and austere A24 feature from the mountains of Iceland about a strange new family member. Lamb is an interesting film in the A24 canon. It’s certainly no slouch as a movie and doesn’t tarnish the company’s name, but it may be the weakest entry I’ve seen. Like all A24, Lamb is artistic and stylish, though it’s probably the most understated example I’ve seen. From the Scandinavian origin to the legacy of the production, Lamb is at best meditative and magical, at worst despondent and plain dull. The first act does lay the foundation for what’s to come - subtle moments not coming fully into light until later - but for 40 minutes of runtime, not much happens and I found myself getting bored and distracted.

While tension and pace do build faster in the second chapter, it begins to lag and doesn’t really escalate into much more by the end of the third and final chapter. The brother didn’t really add much to the overall plot and felt like padding. One casualty of moving as slowly as Lamb does is that the viewer has a lot of time to contemplate what’s going on and I had a strong read on nearly every moment from the second chapter onward. I’m not fully complaining as I’ve been a little burnt on overly busy and hurried 2021 releases lately so this was a welcome respite, but Lamb felt like it was in slow motion the whole way through - even when it needed to ramp up for the climax. Through the glacial pace, Lamb did a lot of good stuff.

At first I was worried the horror tag would be meaningless, but Lamb carries a soft but implacable dread throughout as you know the lamb child isn’t going to stay forever and that daddy would come knocking. The lamb child itself looked absolutely ridiculous but somehow worked. Perhaps it was how convinced everyone around it was but it was just the right level of uncanny realism and cuteness - what a sweetie! The equally vaporous and icy soundtrack was married well to the stark images of the gargantuan Icelandic wilderness imposed over the tiny human inhabitants. The final exchange was just - man’s selfishness was met by the cold indifference of nature. It’s too bad I wasn’t so indifferent as well.

Scare Factor - 3/10
Gore Factor - 3/10
Overall Score - 3 Stars

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