Combustible Celluloid
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With: Michiel Huisman, Raffey Cassidy, Denise Gough, Eve Connolly, Kelly Campbell, Isabelle Connolly, Ailbhe Cowley, Irene Kelleher, Jane Herbert, Charlotte Moore, Mallory Adams
Written by: C.S. McMullen
Directed by: Malgorzata Szumowska
MPAA Rating: NR
Running Time: 97
Date: 04/10/2020

The Other Lamb (2020)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Jumping Sheep

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

This damp, moody movie about a sinister cult is pretty thin when it comes to characters and situations, but its powerful cinematography brings a kind of power to its stance against predatory behavior.

In The Other Lamb, Selah (Raffey Cassidy) has been raised in an all-female cult, led by the soft-spoken, unforgiving Shepherd (Michiel Huisman). He preaches to the women, telling them that he's protecting them from a "broken" world. The women seem to be separated into "wives" and "daughters." The wives are treated slightly better, although they must sleep with Shepherd whenever he beckons.

Shepard treats Selah with special care because of her beauty, and because she is "pure," and hasn't yet begun to menstruate, but Selah becomes wary of his attentions. One day a policeman appears and Shepherd announces that they must pack up and find a new section of the woods to live in. Along the way, Selah's uncertainty grows into rebelliousness.

Written by C.S. McMullen and directed by Malgorzata Szumowska, The Other Lamb deliberately attempts to keep some semblance of mystery as to the origin and operations of the cult. But it leaves too much out, and there are too many basic questions that remain largely unanswered; in the end, it's just too hard to believe that this cult could have existed for as long as it has.

While Selah does eventually spring to life as a character, she's also a little difficult to believe; how would it be for someone to be entirely raised in this environment, without any exposure to the outside world? Her rebellious streak seems a tad ill-placed. Huisman is good, with his flowing hair and Jesus-like beard, conveying both a calm command and a carefully disguised mean streak underneath, although he seems a bit too young to have been in charge of the cult for well over a decade.

However, Szumowska's incredible compositions help bring things to life, from arcs and claws of dead trees surrounding the figures in their landscape, to the handmade webs of string that the women have woven around their camp. They help The Other Lamb pass muster as a scary cautionary story that's worth checking out.

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