‘Lamb’ follows the seemingly unhappy farmer couple Ingvar and Maria, who find joy and purpose in an unlikely (and unnerving) creature. Valdimar Jóhannsson’s ruminating Icelandic horror drama plays unlike any other spine-tingler and almost feels like a quaint story about a rural family, except for the fact that the object of Ingvar and Maria’s love quietly screams that something sinister is afoot.
Though they take their time, these dark aspects that linger in the periphery for most of the film finally bubble over, leading to a truly ominous climax. Making extensive use of tone and aesthetics to get its message across, the sparse narrative doesn’t give too much away. So let’s take a closer look at the ending of ‘Lamb’ and make sure we’ve picked up every disturbing detail. SPOILERS AHEAD.
Lamb Plot Synopsis
The film opens on Ingvar and Maria’s farm in the remote Icelandic countryside, where they raise sheep and grow crops. Their tedious and mundane life is slowly revealed as we see them do their farm chores day in and day out without any excitement. There is also a palpable feeling of unhappiness between the two that lingers but is not discussed. Instead, the couple talks to each other about unconnected facts, which is mostly just polite conversation.
All of this changes when a newborn lamb suddenly becomes the focus of Ingvar and Maria’s attention. The couple adopts the fledgling creature and soon begin to treat it like their own child, keeping it wrapped in blankets and putting it to sleep in a crib next to their bed. They even christen the lamb Ada and continue to care for it even as the sheep that gave birth to it bleats outside their window, seemingly asking for the return of its offspring. Maria, finally tired of the constant protests from the sheep, shoots it.
The film’s first big reveal then shows us that Ada is not a lamb but a humanoid hybrid with the head and shoulders of an animal. Sometime later, Ingvar’s brother Pétur comes to live with the couple and is shocked to see a lamb-human hybrid walking around the house. When he tries to point out the surreal nature of the situation to his brother, Ingvar says that he and his wife have found happiness in Ada and that Pétur should just respect that and not interfere.
However, the flummoxed Pétur continues to implore the couple that Ada is an animal and that they are living in a fantasy by thinking that it can ever be their child. Finally, he takes Ada out to the pasture to kill her but is unable to do it. He eventually learns to live with the lamb-human hybrid and even becomes attached to it, much to Ingvar and Maria’s joy.
Lamb Ending: Are Ingvar and Maria Dead?
During a particularly boisterous night when the couple and Pétur all get drunk, Ada begins to get uneasy. Distracted in their merriment, none of the adults realize the infant creature’s discomfort and continue to drink. Soon after, Ingvar passes out, and Pétur begins to make inappropriate advances towards Maria (something he regularly does).
When she brushes him off, he threatens to reveal to Ada and Ingvar that Maria killed Ada’s birth mother. Pretending to finally be seduced, Maria then tricks Pétur and locks him in the storage room. The next morning, after making sure Ingvar and Ada are still asleep, she takes Pétur to the bus station, gives him some money, and tells him to leave.
Meanwhile, Ingvar wakes up and takes Ada out to the fields to repair their tractor. As he looks into the distance, Ingvar is shot multiple times in his neck and chest. The shooter is revealed to be a grown ram-human hybrid who then leads the grieving Ada away by her hand. Upon reaching back home, Maria discovers her husband is barely alive and breaks down. The film then ends with her standing up and looking around helplessly before closing her eyes with a deep sigh.
So the film finally closes with the ominous reveal that grown-up, more sinister versions of Ada exist and that they are not afraid to fight back. The ram-human hybrid shoots Ingvar much in the same way that Maria earlier shoots the defenseless sheep, bringing the whole surreal narrative full circle. There is a strong undertone of revenge, and Ingvar, after being shot multiple times, is almost dead when Maria finds him.
Considering how remote their farm is, it is highly unlikely that Ingvar has any chance of survival. This is likely why his grieving wife doesn’t even try to take the profusely bleeding man to a hospital (which is likely hours away). Ingvar finally dies in Maria’s arms. Maria survives, but her life is turned completely upside down.
Even though she is so far unscathed, there is no guarantee that things will stay like that. There are no hints about how vengeful the brutish creature that shoots Ingvar actually is, so the ram-human hybrid might just show up once again. Considering it was Maria who actually shot the sheep, it may try to kill her. However, the fact that the creature drops its stolen rifle and walks away into the distance with Ada portends that it doesn’t mean to return. Therefore, Maria is most likely in no immediate danger but is left widowed, with a huge farm to manage alone.
What Happens To Ada?
Soon after Ingvar collapses after being shot, Ada sadly curls up next to his bleeding body. However, the creature that looks like a grown, male version of Ada towers over them and eventually pulls the young hybrid away by the hand. Therefore, it looks like Ada is taken away to live with her own kind somewhere in the vast rolling landscape that surrounds the farm.
Throughout their time together, there is a subtle undertone that Maria realizes Ada doesn’t belong to her and Ingvar. This is likely why she reacts so violently to the mother sheep’s bleats and refers to Ada as “a gift.” The happiness and contentment that the strange little family feels is always portrayed as fragile, with both Maria and Ingvar seemingly aware of but ignoring the fact that their present situation is not sustainable.
This hints that Maria eventually makes peace with Ada being taken away. Therefore, as entertaining as the story of a vengeful Maria embarking on a nothing-to-lose mission to slay the grotesque ram-human hybrid sounds, it is improbable. Ada will therefore grow up with her own kind.
Who Are Ada’s Parents?
Ada’s mother is the sheep that is shot and killed by Maria. This is made abundantly clear when the sheep in question repeatedly bleats outside the bedroom window where Ada is kept and even tries to kidnap the hybrid youngling. Though for a time it seems like Ingvar or Maria might somehow be involved in the formation of the lamb-human hybrid, the shocking climax reveals that that is not the case. There are grown versions of Ada that exist, and the grotesque ram-human hybrid is eventually revealed to be Ada’s father.
Therefore, the film’s story arc is essentially a revenge plot with Ada’s (human) adoptive parents pitted against Ada’s birth parents. Things thus come full circle because the ram-human hybrid avenges the murder of its partner (the sheep) by slaying Maria’s partner and taking back his offspring.
Read More: Where Was Lamb (2021) Filmed?