The Other Lamb brings together two genres I didn’t think would mix well: cult horror and coming of age. However, the result of the film is a rather good one. This is a gripping, chilling, slow-burning film about one girl who begins to question everything in the cult she has spent her entire life in.
Selah (Raffey Cassidy) has lived her entire life in a cult run by a man known as Shepherd (Michiel Huisman), a controlling, messiah-like figure with a frightening dark side. The cult is an all woman cult with two groups, mothers and daughters, with Shepherd fathering all the daughters. Selah’s mother died while giving birth to her, so she has been raised by this community, which is completely cut off from modern society. But when Selah starts to have startling visions and disturbing revelations, she begins to question the Shepherd and her entire life.
Director Malgorzata Szumowska does an excellent job of setting up the film’s atmosphere. This is a very creepy and unsettling movie. What she does best is never give away too much information about the cult itself. It is never explained how the cult was started or how these women got into this cult or why the follow Shepherd. What makes this great is that it really puts us in the mind of Selah. She’s a young girl who didn’t think anything of the place she lived until she started having dreams and visions and paying more attention to Shepherd. As she begins to unfold what is happening, we are unfolding what is happening too, getting new information each scene from other characters about the cult, yet never getting too much information to keep us guessing and compelled to see where the story ends up. The pace of the film does drag a little bit, but there is a lot of compelling material to keep you hooked even at the slower moments.
The Other Lamb is a really gorgeous film to look at. The cinematography is like if Terrance Malick made a horror film. The colors of the wives and daughters outfits pop off the screen in contrast to the dark, monotone forrest the cult is traveling through. Szumowska also does a stellar job sliding in some really startling images that really shook me. She places these images at the perfect time to really frighten and shock us. They don’t act as jump scares, but show us the horror of the dreams and images Selah is seeing. The images are horrifying and stick with you long after the movie is over.
The Other Lamb is a movie for those who like intelligent horror movies. This isn’t a movie that is worried about making you jump in your seat while you are watching it but rather one that will make you squirm in your seat while watching and then think about what you saw once you leave the theater (or now, due to the current circumstance, stop the stream). Again, it does get a bit slow in the middle there, but The Other Lamb is interesting and creepy and pays off brilliantly at the end.
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