The Other Lamb

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
The Other Lamb Movie Poster Image
Thin but effective, violent story about all-female cult.
  • NR
  • 2020
  • 97 minutes

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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

It's crucial to question your world and "facts" you might have always taken for granted. If you're a woman being oppressed/victimized by patriarchal society, you have to stand up for yourself. Creating change requires confidence, strong leadership.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Selah is a strong character who risks her safety to stand up against abuse, but she makes some iffy choices, and it's hard to tell how much she's learned in the end. In depiction of Shepherd and his abusive religious cult, movie shows oppressive, controlling relationships, both sexual and spiritual, and damage they can do. Women and girls can be kind and supportive of one another, but also cruel and vicious.

Violence

Emotional abuse against women who are in a cult and controlled, sexually and spiritually, by male leader. A woman is slapped, kicked, slammed. Character bashed with a rock. Dead bodies shown, including one that's been tortured. An animal is sacrificed; its blood is smeared on women's faces. Menstrual blood shown. Sexual encounter between cult leader and teen in his flock plays out as rape. Woman with scratches on her chest, woman with bruises on neck. Bloody/disturbing lamb fetus shown. Dead bird on forest floor, crawling with maggots. Nightmare sequence (man slicing sheep's neck, etc.). Slapping. Loud noises, shrieking, wailing, screaming, etc. A man holds women's heads under water. Injured sheep.

Sex

A late, lingering shot shows a fully naked woman standing, from both the rear and the front. A man kisses and has nonexplicit sex with a teen girl (she doesn't protest/fight him off, but it is implied that he's raping her). It's strongly suggested that a single male character has multiple female partners at one time; he refers to many women as his wives. Two women leave a man's bedroom in the morning. Naked bottom shown. Breasts visible through wet clothing. Shirtless man.

Language

A use of "sheep s--t," one "f--k," a use of "stupid."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Other Lamb is a drama with horror overtones about a teen girl who starts to rebel against the leader of the religious cult in which she was raised. There's both emotional and physical violence against women. A man slaps, kicks, and slams a woman, and a character is hit with a rock. Dead bodies (one tortured) and dead animals (including a gruesome lamb) are shown. Injuries and blood are shown, including menstrual blood. A woman is shown fully naked; other glimpses of skin include a naked bottom, a man's bare chest, and women's breasts outlined through wet clothing. The cult leader has multiple wives, and it's suggested that he has multiple sexual partners at once (two women leave his room in the morning). He kisses and has unwelcome, uncomfortable sex with a teen. Language is infrequent but includes both a use of "s--t" and a use of "f--k." The story and characters are a little thin, but the impressive visuals make it worth seeing for mature viewers.

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What's the story?

In THE OTHER LAMB, Selah (Raffey Cassidy) has been raised in a cult that consists entirely of women -- except for their leader, the soft-spoken but unforgiving Shepherd (Michiel Huisman). He preaches to the women -- who are separated into "wives" and "daughters" -- telling them that he's protecting them from a "broken" world. The wives are treated slightly better than the daughters, although they must have sex with Shepherd whenever he beckons. Shepherd treats Selah with special care because of her beauty and because she is "pure" (i.e., hasn't yet begun to menstruate), but Selah becomes wary of his attentions. One day a police officer appears, and Shepherd tells the women that they must pack up and find a new home. Along the way, Selah's uncertainty grows into rebelliousness.

Is it any good?

This moody movie about a sinister cult is pretty thin when it comes to characters and situations, but its excellent cinematography brings a kind of power to its stance against predatory behavior. Written by C.S. McMullen and directed by Malgorzata Szumowska, The Other Lamb deliberately tries to retain some semblance of mystery around the cult's origin and operations. But it leaves too much out, and there are too many basic questions that go 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 hard 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 unlikely. Huisman is good, with his flowing hair and Jesus-like beard, conveying both calm command and a carefully disguised mean streak, although he seems a bit too young to have been in charge of the cult for well over a decade. All of that said, Szumowska's incredible compositions help bring things to life, from the 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. These details help The Other Lamb pass muster as a scary cautionary story that's worth checking out.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about The Other Lamb's violence. Is it more shocking because so much of it is directed at women? How much is suggested rather than shown?

  • How is sex depicted? What values are imparted? How did you interpret the scene between Shepherd and Selah?

  • Have you seen other portrayals of cults in the media? How does this compare?

  • Is Shepard a bully? How is he dealt with? What are other ways of dealing with bullies?

Movie details

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Themes & Topics

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