Fans of Japanese cult horror flicks should certainly give it a look, but A Lamb in Despair isn’t nearly as shocking as its garish DVD cover would imply.A Lamb in Despair aspires to be the Japanese version of Silence of the Lambs, but doesn’t really come too close. The overwrought and sleazy flick offers extensive discourses full of dime-store psychoanalysis and unending discussions about the nature of modern evil in a media-driven world. That’s all well and good, but it’s simply not all that entertaining.
Anthony Wong plays serial killer Wu, a sociopath who has recently returned to Hong Kong following an allegedly brutal crime spree in the U.S. A local newspaper reporter catches wind of Wu’s return, and repeatedly does what he can to ‘provoke’ the killer into creating some saleable news stories; the gorier the better.
Wu, doing his part, kidnaps a young woman, strips her naked, jams her into a cage, and brainwashes her into killing a host of new victims. An unfortunate family of picnickers runs into Wu, and they end up suffocated, knifed, and raped. All very tragic, but not particularly spooky, horrifying, or off-putting. (The more violent moments seem clearly inspired by the intermittent ‘ultraviolence’ of Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange.)
A Lamb in Despair may not be an awful import, but it’s a film that makes its points early and often...and repeatedly. Most of the movie that doesn’t directly deal with Wu and his deviant behavior is tiresome at best, and even the ‘jolt’ bits are somewhat of a disappointment.Again, if you’re interested in curiosities of Japanese cinema, you could certainly find more to enjoy than I did.