Thanks to films like Hereditary and Midsommar, one tends to be wary when studio A24’s name pops up. So you can’t blame those who watched the first trailer for Valdimar Jóhannsson’s Lamb for assuming horrific things were about to invade our minds. But now, the director is trying to tell us that’s not the case, which just makes us even more suspicious.
Lamb — directed by Jóhannsson and written by him and Sjón — is inspired by Icelandic folklore and stars Prometheus actress Noomi Rapace. For the record, here’s the official synopsis: “A childless couple in rural Iceland make an alarming discovery one day in their sheep barn. They soon face the consequences of defying the will of nature, in this dark and atmospheric folktale, the striking debut feature from director Valdimar Jóhannsson.” Why would we expect horror from that? *nervous laughter*
Lamb made its debut at Cannes but also just screened at the Karlovy Vary Film Festival so a good number of folks have seen it by now to judge. Speaking with Variety, Jóhannsson had this to say: “What’s interesting is that now, everyone says ‘Lamb’ is a horror movie. It’s not! I am a little surprised by that, because it was never my plan. To me, it’s an arthouse film.”
An arthouse film it may well be, but a lamb/human hybrid child plus someone willing to do a violence on those who might want to take it away sure sounds scary to me. At least the director is aware audiences may not know how to react at all to this bizarre scenario: “When ‘Lamb’ was screened in Cannes, people started to laugh even before the joke was out. I realised they just didn’t know how to react. Maybe they have never seen anything like this before? So yes, you can laugh, you can cry or you can just be silent,” he told Variety.
For his part, Jóhannsson seemed thankful nothing has been spoiled so far. “I remember some [viewers] were just saying you should know as little as possible before seeing the film and I think that it’s true.” Lamb — which stars Rapace, Hilmir Snær Guðnason, Björn Hlynur Haraldsson, and Ingvar Sigurðsson — is set for an October 8 release in select global theatres.
No word yet on its streaming or VOD debut.