The 2021 Cannes Film Festival is now underway, and one of the films playing this year in the Un Certain Regard section is Lamb, an Icelandic thriller starring Noomi Rapace as the (adoptive?) mother of a half-human, half-sheep child. You heard that right. The film is set to premiere at the festival on July 13 but indie-horror distributor A24 has already acquired the North American rights and now we have a look at the first international teaser.

Lamb Trailer

Variety (via Bloody Disgusting) reports that A24 has scooped up the stateside rights to Lamb, which is directed by Valdimar Jóhannsson and co-written by Jóhannsson and the mononymous Sjón. The film looks to be something of a pastoral three-hander, with Rapace and Icelandic actors Hilmir Snaer Gudnason and Björn Hlynur Haraldsson being the only faces glimpsed in the teaser. Variety gives the following plot outline:

In “Lamb,” a childless couple 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 A24 Brand and Its Spooky Trailers

Rapace made a name for herself in 2009 when she starred as Lisbeth Salander in the original Swedish version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and its two sequels. It’s been 10 years now since she had her international breakthrough with her first English-speaking role in Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows. In the blockbuster realm, she is still perhaps best known for playing Elizabeth Shaw in Ridley Scott’s Prometheus. That film and its teaser trailer, soundtracked by the production music company Audiomachine, are a prime example of a movie where the marketing hype almost eclipsed the actual viewing experience.

In the past, A24 has also suffered from this problem, with trailers for some of its movies playing up the thrilling aspect of them in a way that belied their true slow-burn nature. It Comes at Night notably received a “D” CinemaScore after its trailer sold it as a monster movie. Spoiler alert: it’s not.

The Witch is another example that comes to mind of an A24 horror film that was critically lauded but that general audiences didn’t seem to find particularly scary. Lamb takes a page from The Witch in that it also centers on a family isolated on a remote farm, with rolling green hills and white sheep substituted for the dark forest and a talking goat named Black Philip (who wants you to “live deliciously”). It’s almost impossible, actually, to hear the sheep “bah” at the beginning of this teaser and not think of Black Phillip.

By now, with a few more years of horror releases under its belt, viewers should be better attuned to the A24 brand, which brings an arthouse sensibility to the genre, couching it more in simmering psychodrama than jump scares. The teaser for Lamb does an effective job of building a creeping sense of dread that seems more in line with what audiences have come to expect from the studio.

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