Appreciate how minimalist Valdimar Jóhannsson's vision is here, both in general conception and formal execution. There is minimal exposition, not much dialogue in general, and the conceit is so absurd yet performed and presented with such steadfast assurance that it all manages to work for me. Tonally monotonous but I'd argue effectively executed, Lamb's auditory and visual assembly project a consistent sense of unease - the omnipresence of the natural vistas of Iceland enshroud the subjects at the center of this story in which physical isolation symbolizes the emotional desolation formed out of loss, grief, and as we come to learn, deception. The underlying character dynamics are so quietly rendered. I wouldn't call it ambiguous but confident in the audience to piece things together about the past trauma and the deceptions spawned by loss. A victim of its own marketing and the expectations therein, Lamb is not really a horror film in the traditional sense but an ethnographic fable, a folk tale in which deceit and injustice come home to roost for our main heroine whose unjust actions were spawned out of her inability to accept the grander designs of nature.
Elemental, survival horror which beautifully illuminates the depths of depravity humankind is capable of in order to save their own skin. Set in the deep marshes of a war-torn Japan, the primitivity of Onibaba's environment encapsulates the primal impulses of humanity it aims to elucidate. Shindō's command of expressionist lighting, general formal precision, and chaotic grammar enraptures his characters in a nightmarish natural world that feels anything but, yet everything that transpires, all the depravity which unfolds is spawned by man. Onibaba posits egoism as a force that slants towards nothing but self-attainment and preservation, and these internal impulses are juxtaposed with War - the collective manifestation of depravity second to none. What jumped out to me revisiting Onibaba is how it can be seen as a stark, anti-war film. The corrosive effects we see on the psyche of these characters spawned by the experience of war and the toll it takes on the land, the mind, and the body
The collective ennui which permeates throughout Vecchiali's distinct and transfixing The Strangler transcends well beyond its familiar serial killer narrative framework to deliver what I can only describe as an existential investigation into the interconnectivity of desire and despair that perceptively exhibits the grand delusions we often construct cognitively in an effort to make sense of non-sensical material reality. Masterfully playing with perspective, Vecchiali's rigorous cinematic grammar allows him to explore affect from an angle that is largely detached from ethics, exploring how morality itself can be quite intangible. The cold, mechanical precision of the film's formal designs and oscillating perspectives elucidate a feeling of existential longing, one in which every disparate individual feels connected by this omnipresent force. I don't feel like The Strangler is concerned with politics or any form of social critique, instead it aims to encapsulate our collective existential struggle, one that is influenced both by our internal perceptions and our external relationships, as every individual begins to craft their own version of the truth as a means of escape from existential dread associated with mortality. I could see this film being perceived as morbid by some, but from my perspective, the film's treatment of the material invokes a sense of melancholy that is affecting and empathetic, reaching a state of transcendence beyond socially constructed notions of good vs. evil, right vs. wrong. Perhaps I'm way off, I probably should stop writing about movies directly after I watch them in an effort to ruminate and formalize my thoughts, but this film feels like another pretty major work - Vecciali is two-for-two so far in my book and I really can't wait to watch another one of his films.
Love of all things cinema brought me here.