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Movie Reviews

[Fantasia ’22] ‘Dr. Lamb’ review: Inappropriate, offensive, and in need of every trigger warning

Sure to offend everyone who watches it.

Dr. Lamb is infamous even as Hong Kong Category III (the rating equivalent to NC-17) movies go.  If that is not enough to interest fans of underground cinema, the restored version by Unearthed Films screening at the Fantasia Film Festival also includes scenes cut from the original release. The 1993 film started Hong Kong’s based-on-a true-serial- killer craze of the 1990s. The movie takes place the summer of 1982 after a series of brutal murders stuns Hong Kong. When cab driver Lam Gor-Yu is brought in, it leads to horrifying discoveries. 

The film is unapologetically exploitative in its depiction of a real life murder case. The opening moments of Dr. Lamb gives the impression it is going to be a character study. A flashback to Lam’s childhood gives an idea of what his upbringing was like. It as if the film is trying to explore what was the cause behind his later actions. Adding to the idea that Dr. Lamb seems to what to be something more is the framing device used by the plot. The film is almost a story within a story. During the current portions, the police are trying to coerce a confession out of Lam. Interlaced are scenes from the past as Lam describes what has happened. 

Any thoughts of a possible unreliable narrator angle are quickly quelled as it becomes clear Dr. Lamb is more about sensationalizing the crimes. Lam’s past is brought up a few more times, but it always feels random and for shock value. The subtle ways in which Lam’s sister keeps her daughter away from him are nicely done, though. 

Its over the top nature means audiences will be constantly worried about what will be shown next. Dr. Lamb is legitimately offensive and every trigger warning is required before a viewing of it. The murders are shown in graphic detail, but are far from the most disgusting moments. There is a very specific audience for this type of film. Even those into sleazy grindhouse fare may be turned away by what is shown.

[Fantasia '22] 'Dr. Lamb' review: Inappropriate, offensive, and in need of every trigger warning

Catering to midnight movie audiences and not caring who it offends, Dr. Lamb is the type of movie that is not found today. (An argument can be made that is a good thing, but an even stronger case can be made for confrontational art.)  There are still movies that try to provoke people and are gross seemingly for the sake of it, but they usually leave no lasting impression. For better and worse, Dr. Lamb will have everyone who sees it talking.

Dr. Lamb is screening at the Fantasia Festival

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