Lamb (CREDIT: A24)

Starring: Noomi Rapace, Hilmir Snaer Gudnason, Björn Hylnur Haraldsson

Director: Valdimar Jóhannsson

Running Time: 106 Minutes

Rating: R for Some Bursts of Blood and a Few Sexy Moments

Release Date: October 8, 2021 (Theaters)

The best way I can describe the appeal (or potential appeal) of Lamb is by linking to this art installation piece of a dog-human hybrid by Australian artist Patricia Piccinini. It went viral as a supposedly real example of a cross-bred canine-human species to the point that Snopes had to debunk it. You don’t have to believe in actual missing links to find this uncanny mix-up compelling, which is why I believe that there is a healthy appetite for something like Lamb. Noomi Rapace and Hilmir Snaer Gudnason play María and Ingvar, a childless couple in the Icelandic countryside who suddenly find themselves in the presence of Ada, a creature that has the face and fleece of a baby sheep but the bipedalism and mannerisms of a human child. Director/co-writer Valdimar Jóhannsson has concocted something undeniably strange, though the presentation is mostly heartwarming.

A premise like Lamb‘s definitely isn’t for everyone, but skittish viewers might just be surprised to discover how much Ada can wiggle her way into their hearts. María and Ingvar treat her as lovingly as they would any child. They make sure to ask her how she’s feeling and if she’s hungry … all the things that you do to be attentive to a little one. They even give her a crown of flowers that makes her like the Midsommar Queen. And on top of all that, there’s even a scene featuring one of the characters’ old music videos on a VHS tape that results in an impromptu dance party. There’s just so much spontaneous joy in this movie!

But alas, there is also some terror lurking around the edges. For one thing, Ingvar’s brother Pétur comes to visit for a few days, and he just doesn’t understand how a human family could raise Ada the way that his brother and sister-in-law are. He also tries to make some moves on María that are very much not welcome. Then there is the sublime nature of Iceland itself to contend with. It’s a beautiful country, but it’s the kind of place that looks like it’s going to swallow you up whenever it feels like it. And then there’s the question of whether or not this living arrangement with Ada can last. Is it indeed too unnatural for everybody to accept? Sadly, it might be, but we can definitely remember the good times.

Lamb is Recommended If You Like: The Muppets, E.T., Modern Fables, the Adorable Side of the Uncanny Valley

Grade: 4 out of 5 Cats