On a remote sheep farm in picturesque but rugged Iceland, childless couple Maria (Noomi Rapace) and Ingvar (Hilmir Snær Guðnason) have their workaday lives disrupted when one of their sheep gives birth to a human hybrid. Naming the unnerving creature Ada, they decide to bring it into their home and raise it as their own—a replacement for the child it is heavily implied that they lost some time in the past.
Ensconced in familial bliss, it takes the arrival of Petur (Björn Hlynur Haraldsson), Ingvar’s tearaway brother, to point out just how weird a lamb-headed toddler really is. Just what brought the creature forth? And what is the ominous presence in the nearby mountains that seems to be searching for it?
Lamb is being marketed as a horror movie and while it certainly borrows some tones from that genre, anyone expecting a conventional fright flick is going to come away confused. Even for an A24 joint, Lamb colours outside the commonly accepted genre lines, touching on notes of folk horror and luxuriating in the chilly, bleak atmosphere of its location. Its story wrings a lot of mileage out of the empty, unnerving presence of the flocks of sheep that drift in and out of the story, a mute Greek chorus to witness a story that unfolds at a gradual, near-glacial pace. That story is a meditation on loss, love, grief, and parenthood, told through long silences and carefully constructed tableaux.