PLOT: After selling his half of the family farm, Henry Oldfield soon realizes that his brother Angus is using genetic experimentation in order to build up the farm. But soon, the sheep hit the fan, when a couple of animal rights activist unwittingly contaminate the sheep population turning the fluffy white critters into man-eating monsters.
Just as Roy Scheider stared down the deadly black eyes of a man-eating shark in JAWS, Nathan Meister looks into the cold, evil stare of sheep. Yes, sheep… and a couple of “were-sheep”, I guess that would be the name for them. Thanks to the new film from IFC First Take, BLACK SHEEP hordes its way into a limited theatrical release on June 22nd. We are first introduced to two young boys, who work on their farm with their father. Angus (Peter Feeney) seems to have a few issues and decides to play a nasty prank on the obviously more likable brother Henry (Meister). Soon after, we find that their father has had an accident. There’s the set up, and when we meet the two brothers again, fifteen years down the road, they find themselves making financial arrangements regarding the farm. By now Henry is terrified of sheep due to his brother and the twisted childhood prank. As for Angus, he has taken farming to a whole new level, think “Operation Razorteeth” from the Roger Corman camp-classic PIRANHA. Soon, a new breed of terror takes over as the sheep get a taste for human flesh. But these are not ordinary sheep chowing down on human chud, no… they are some sort of zombie sheep that spread the contagion to humans making half-sheep, half-humans.
Writer/Director Jonathan King’s comedy horror show has a few moments of inspiration. One of the most memorable is when a damn hippie gets too close to the experiment. The whole sequence felt very much like it could have found its way into DEAD ALIVE and BAD TASTE. Peter Jackson’s early work was an obvious inspiration, not only because of the New Zealand based production. There is blood, gushing wounds, torn off body parts including a nasty castration, but it is all done in good clean fun. There are elements of Edgar Wright’s SHAUN OF THE DEAD here also, with some clever dialogue and nice folk having to face the undead. Although this time, the undead are just really nasty sheep and a few half-breeds. I don’t know about you but the fact that somebody came up with a dark, damp underground tunnel with a flickering candle, and the frightening sound of “Baaaaaaa” ringing through the darkness is pretty damn funny.
As a comedy, BLACK SHEEP works, but after awhile, the joke loses some of its power. We are then treated to some man-sheep love and a few fart jokes. Don’t get me wrong, for the most part I still had a few good chuckles. But when the were-sheep got involved and the situation seemed to borrow much too heavily from other “when animals attack” movies, the short running time of 85 minutes seemed a bit stretched. I loved the gore and I thought the actors did nice work even if they seemed to be too aware of the joke themselves. I really grooved on the idea of killer sheep and for much of the film it works. The stampede of deadly sheep crossing the rolling green New Zealand hills was good enough for a snicker. And the sheep face off’s were always funny. I almost think this would have been stronger if they stuck with the flesh eating sheep and avoided the monster movie territory. BLACK SHEEP works, yet it falls short due to a few too many tributes and a rather unoriginal ending… THE HOWLING anyone. But it still is worth a look for all you animal horror lovers out there. I sheepishly recommend it.
My rating 6/10 -- JimmyO