As a logline, it almost sounds like a comedy—the type of gonzo horror-laugh hybrid Troma would’ve made back in the day. Yet by all accounts, co-writer and director Valdimar Jóhannsson is as serious as a heart attack in his creepy new folk horror tale, Lamb, which now has a trailer to back up its premise about a young, childless couple adopting a creature that is neither lamb or human.
Framed in an eerie slow-boiling dread, as per critics who saw the movie at the Cannes Film Festival while likening it to Robert Eggers’ The Witch and Ari Aster’s Hereditary, Lamb appears to be bathed in an unnatural eeriness. Perhaps then it shouldn’t be a surprise the movie has been picked up by indie tastemaker studio A24 for distribution.
The pic stars Noomi Rapace—an actress we’d argue is still the best Lisbeth Salandar out there, and the lead of Ridley Scott’s Prometheus—and Hilmir Snær Guðnason as Maria and Ingvar, a couple who live a quiet life in the wilderness of Iceland. They raise sheep and appear content if not necessarily happy with the quietness since they desperately want a child. Which makes the discovery they find in their barn one night so strange: a sheep has given birth to a hybrid creature that has the body of a baby and the head of a lamb. How did it get here and why does this abomination breathe? We don’t know the answers yet, but what is clear is that the couple begins raising the lamb child as their own… much to the apparent disapproval of the sheep they keep on their farm.
It’s a bizarre premise, but one that’s been visible on our radar since Hollywood trades like THR praised the feature in France as being “a disturbing experience but also a highly original take on the anxieties of being a parent, a tale in which nature plus nurture yields a nightmare.”
A first-time features director, Jóhannsson has worked on the special effects of projects like Rogue One, Game of Thrones, and the aforementioned Prometheus, and the severity he apparently goes for with his lamb-on-human creature has our interest genuinely piqued.
The film currently has a U.S. release date of Oct. 8, which appropriately puts it near the top of the spooky season. With any luck, it’s as horrifying as the buzz, or at least make for a decidedly unexpected family entertainment.