One of the buzziest films not in competition at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival earlier this month was Valdimar Jóhannsson’s directorial debut “Lamb,” an atmospheric horror movie starring Noomi Rapace with such a bonkers plot that festival attendees couldn’t stop talking about it. The film was picked up by A24 before the start of Cannes. The studio has a great track record turning moody horror films into word-of-mouth hits, from “Hereditary” to “The Witch,” “Midsommar,” and more. Time will tell if “Lamb” joins the club, but A24’s first trailer is doing everything it can to stir up anticipation.
The official synopsis for “Lamb” from A24 reads: “A childless couple (Rapace and Hilmir Snaer Gudnason) 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.”
In his B review out of Cannes, IndieWire chief critic Eric Kohn called the movie “derivative in parts but impressive once its big twist comes together,” adding, “First-time writer-director Valdimar Jóhannsson has been schooled in the eloquent atmospheric horror of ‘The Witch’ and ‘Hereditary’ to such a precise degree that ‘Lamb’ may as well exist as a spin-off. But ‘Lamb’ takes a low-key minimalist approach to its premise that invites a certain shock-and-awe reaction before doubling back to give it purpose.”
“Though Jóhannsson’s debut sometimes has the kind of sketchbook quality of a newcomer not quite capable of building on a well-defined mood, ‘Lamb’ is certainly audacious and eerie enough to establish a competent genre filmmaker with vision to spare,” Kohn continues. Any details beyond that and the movie’s entire appeal collapses under the outré nature of its central gimmick. Spoiler culture can sometimes get carried away about the need to obscure plot details from the public record, but “Lamb” truly does benefit from a cold viewing experience.”
“Lamb” will be released October 8. Watch the studio’s official trailer for the movie below.