Thursday, October 29, 2009

Black Sheep (2007)

Really, it was only a matter of time...

Part kiwi sheep comedy and part tribute to campy horror schlock of eons past like Night of the Lepus (1972) or The Killer Shrews (1959), Black Sheep is a New Zealand film directed by newcomer Jonathan King, and stars a largely unknown cast.

Henry Oldfield returns to his family's successful farm after 15 years. He left when his father fell to his death off a coastal cliff in a herding accident. As a result, Henry has a severe phobia of sheep. He has returned to claim a check for half the farm, from his brother Angus. Angus was ruthless with the sheep as a child, and ruthless even to young Henry, who he would play pranks on. Gee, I smell poetic justice on the horizon! Angus and a team of mad scientists have come up with a genetic formula that can mutate sheep with human DNA to look better and act smarter, and when a pair of hippies (including the lovely Danielle Mason as Experience) decide to spring some sheep, they wind up stealing and releasing a mutated infant sheep. All hell is about to break loose...


The first thing you'll notice is just how beautiful New Zealand is, YET AGAIN, on film. If you watch this in HD you'll see sweeping, lush landscapes courtesy of some stunning cinematography which is far too good for this film. The makeup and special effects are likewise top notch, from the piles of gore left sopping about to the transformation sequences (man to goat...goat to man...goat to......goat). They remind me of Peter Jackson's early films, probably not a coincidence. It seems quite a budget went into producing what was likely some kid's college film project. There is a satisfying level of gore in the film, but several of the death scenes are annoyingly left to the imagination: we see an attack, we see the aftermath, but we are left blank on the actual kill. They almost make up for this during Angus' presentation scene, when an army of mutant sheep converges on the guests and slaughters them brutally, but so many of the 'victims' look like they're laughing while being maimed that it's not as effective as one would hope.

The story is rather stupid, and there are numerous situations which involve throwaway toilet humor that I probably wouldn't find funny if I was still 5 years old. If you're into special effects and New Zealand scenery, or stupid horror films in general, then this is well worth a viewing. I especially liked the sheep-man wereform, which was pretty damn cool. And yes, the poetic justice goes above and beyond what you're expecting.

Verdict: Indifference [6/10]

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