By Matthew Tilt
You’d be hard pressed to call the current slate of cult horrors, horrors about cults that is, a resurgence. In fact, there seems to have always been a series of films about charismatic leaders and (un)willing disciples around, but with the success of Ari Aster’s Midsommar there is more attention than ever on exploring ritualistic control.
Malgorzata Szumowska’s The Other Lamb (available on MUBI) is a far quieter film than many of its influences, focused almost solely on an outstanding performance by Raffey Cassidy as Selah, a young ‘daughter’ in an all-female cult guided and manipulated by The Shephard (Michiel Huisman).
To call this a feminist horror film is to ignore the fact that nearly all cults, both real and imagined, lean towards misogynistic control of women’s body and mind. Here, The Shephard belittles and abuses his followers, breeding replacements for his ‘wives’ and casting those he considers impure out.
Even with Michal Englert’s stunning cinematography emphasising an otherworldliness to the deserted camp, The Other Lamb feels too ‘cookie-cutter’, too cult-by-numbers to have the desired effect.
It fails to explore either the motivations behind The Shephard or the reasonings of the women who follow him and builds to a nasty, predictable end.