Director: Valdimar Jóhannsson
What it's about
An Icelandic horror/drama. Rural sheep farmers Ingvar and Maria, discover one of their sheep has given birth to something unnatural. As a childless couple they become entranced with the newborn and decide to keep the lamb and raise it as their own child.
What I Thought
I don’t want to give too much away because I feel this is a movie you truly need to see for yourself. This was one of the most unique films I’ve watched in a long time. It’s not your regular type of horror movie. It’s more like a dark, hauntingly grim commentary on society. The cinematography was simply beautiful. The director has a background in cinematography and it clearly shows. Being filmed in rural Iceland gave the film a foreboding, unearthly feel that immerses the viewer and keeps you hooked even though it’s quite a slow burn.
When you’d expect that a lamb child would look cartoonish it really doesn’t. Even though Ada doesn’t speak, her gestures and eye expressions speak for her. I kind of forgot that she wasn’t human in parts and felt genuine joy for Maria and Ingvar as Ada brought them closer together.
Considering the film consists of four main characters, it relies a lot on the performances of the actors and nuances in the film to carry it. It works though. The acting was outstanding, and the writing impressive. You really develop a deep empathy for the characters, particularly Maria and Ada.
This film deals a lot with grief, loss, fractured relationships and love. We learn that Ingvar and Maria were pregnant previously but seemingly lost that child. You feel the pain, the longing from Maria wanting to be a mother, wanting a family. You feel the desperation of Ingvar wanting to provide his wife the life she wants.
Now for the animals: Yes, there are a few animal deaths. Not for shock value, and not in a gruesome manner. This is one of the first movies I’ve ever seen where even the animals have character. Simple expressions, close shots of faces and eyes give the animals in this film a more or less, humanistic quality. It’s almost as though the director is telling the story through the eyes of the animals more so than the people. The birth mother of Ada cries for her lamb outside their window, and you feel genuine heartbreak.
You’re either going to love or hate the ending. I’m not giving it away but, personally, I liked it. I thought it was bleak, emotional and shocking. Again, VERY UNIQUE. There are things in this film that you simply won’t expect, or see anywhere else.
Four out of five. Other than a little bit of slow pacing initially, I loved this movie. It was so different from anything out there right now. I can’t stop thinking about it. I’d watch it again, I’d buy a copy, and I’m telling everyone to check it out.
Where to find it
Available in theaters, you can also rent it on most VOD platforms.