‘Lamb’ Director Opens Up About Making Ada, the Lamb-Human Hybrid

Lamb heavily relies on its ability to sell the lamb-human hybrid concept. It could be perceived as cheap, unintentional humor if the execution isn’t right. This creature design is what intrigued many audiences enough to look into the A24-released horror movie. Director Valdimar Jóhannsson recently opened up about what it was like making Ada come to life on the silver screen.

‘Lamb’ introduces Ada, the lamb-human hybrid

Lamb has clear folk horror inspirations that audiences are picking up on. However, it certainly incorporates drama components. The story follows the childless couple Maria (Noomi Rapace) and Ingvar (Hilmir Snær Guðnason). They live on an Icelandic farm surrounded by a gorgeous landscape. One day, they discover a lamb-human hybrid infant that they decide to raise as their own child.

Ada’s human half is a big movie reveal that had audiences reacting. Crowds gasped in shock as the movie fully commits to the concept. Ada doesn’t speak, but it’s often clear what’s going through her mind. Maria and Ingvar face numerous struggles, including Ingvar’s brother, Pétur (Björn Hlynur Haraldsson). He judges the couple for raising an animal as their child.

‘Lamb’ director Valdimar Jóhannsson explains making Ada

'Lamb' director Valdimar Jóhannsson and actor Noomi Rapace standing in front of photographers at the Cannes Film Festival
L-R: Valdimar Jóhannsson and Noomi Rapace | Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

Jóhannsson recently talked about the process of bringing Ada to life in an interview with Discussing Film. He mentioned that he drew sketches of Ada before starting on the movie. However, the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic delay ended up benefitting Ada’s design timeline.

“From the beginning, ever since my drawings of Ada, it always felt like she was just there with us,” Jóhannsson said. “After shooting, I can’t remember how much time it took, but then COVID came and so we had more time to finish it in post than what was planned.”

Johannsson emphasized the importance of Ada’s design. Otherwise, it would have thrown the entire movie’s tone off. The movie has some moments of comedic relief, although they don’t distract from the overall tone.

He continued: “We were working with some amazing people, I am so glad because I knew if Ada would not be perfect, then the film could just be like a comedy (laughs).”

Creature design is important to maintaining a movie’s tone


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The creature design is incredibly important to selling a movie. The audiences need to be able to mentally go to the places that the story is going. If the world isn’t believable, moviegoers will be pulled out of the intended story experience. The right balance of CGI special effects and practical effects is also rather important in this case.

Lamb does a stellar job at incorporating Ada into the world. Jóhannsson makes the lamb-human hybrid entirely convincing. The human characters also manage to have substantial interactions with Ada, which improves believability. Rapace, Guðnason, and Haraldsson always make Ada feel like a real, living creature.

Lamb‘s genres blend into a slow-burn film that walks between horror, drama, and elements of mystery. The film is now out in theaters.