An ordinary day takes a sinister turn for a woman and her child when a stranger walks into their isolated rural home.
As someone who has lived in a rural area, I know that doors are left unlocked. There’s peace from the birds and lack of traffic, so who would be roaming around to cause mayhem? Hardly anyone. But in Sinéad O’Loughlin’s short film, we see everything that we’re led to believe go wrong, making me check that my third floor flat definitely has the door locked.
O’Loughlin’s writing and direction makes even the most beautiful location and lighting seem eerie through more than just the characters on screen. We know from the start that something is going to go wrong, but we’re left waiting on the edge of our seat as we watch somewhere that should be a safe haven turn into darkness. I felt that the pacing was perfect, and true to how it might occur in real life. We never know how we’d act in a situation like this until we’re in it, making the script the perfect level of fight versus fear.
Aoife Duffin stars as a mother just wanting to protect her child, so when Éanna Hardwicke walks through the door, we really see the mix of emotions come out. Duffin expertly stays in a shocked place throughout the film, keeping her heart beating and mind racing as we watch her willingly. Hardwick plays an incredible villain with a poker face to be jealous of. We’re never quite sure what his motives and plans are, heightening the intensity of the story. As an audience, we pray for Duffin to smash a plate over his head, we demand Hardwicke to tell us that he was mistaken and will leave them alone. We’re left feeling everything, so that the end comes as a shock when the door slams close.
The line encapsulating the short film, and being its namesake is this: “If you want a ewe to go somewhere, you don’t bother with her, you take the lamb. She’ll always follow.” Hardwicke delivers it with agitation and understanding, often referring to his father and what he learnt from him. It felt powerful, that no one else in the room had any choice in what was going to happen. It reminded me of the story from the bible where a man has 100 sheep, but 1 goes missing. Do you protect the 99 or go and find the 1? Through the writing and acting, we are given the same question as the characters, leaving us to wonder what we’d do in a situation like this.
Funded by Screen Ireland as part of the Focus Shorts scheme, Lamb is full of talent both on and off screen, bringing to life a story we hope that none of us will ever have to live.