Black Sheep (2006)
Black Sheep is a high concept horror comedy from New Zealand. Featuring creative physical effects by Weta Workshop, this tale of genetically modified killer sheep, animal husbandry and environmentalism requires a very broad sense of humour and an abiding love for the “creature feature” sub-genre. It should be noted that the copy I watched was the unrated R1 DVD. This version is stronger in content than the R rated US theatrical release and yet was released at the UK cinemas with only a 15 rating from the BBFC. I suspect that the similarities in humour between the UK and New Zealand contributed to this somewhat low rating. That and the fact that horror comedy often gets a free pass because the humour always tends to mitigate the violence.
The plot is somewhat rudimentary but appropriate to the genre. Two brothers grow up on a sheep farm. One, Henry Oldfield (Nathan Meister), becomes a sheepophobic (is that a proper word?) after his brother Angus (Peter Feeney) kills his pet and terrorises him with the carcass. Years later Henry discovers that his successful brother is conducting illegal genetic experiments with sheep. An experimental foetus is then accidentally unleashed after environmentalists (Oliver Driver and Danielle Mason) break into the farm. It's not long before those bitten by the monster sheep transform into sheep-human hybrids. Matters get worse as killer flocks rampage through the countryside, seeking human flesh.
Writer and director Jonathan King's debut feature is very matter of fact. You'll either love or hate this film and there is no middle ground. It's gory, crass and obvious. Yet there's some subtle digs at environmentalism, farming and political activism. There are some affectionate homages to the horror genre (one scene is straight out of An American Werewolf in London) and the whole enterprise is refreshingly unpretentious. There is also great cinematography by Richard Bluck and a wonderfully traditional soundtrack by Victoria Kelly which compliments the film greatly. Despite its subject matter and the occasional lapse into that theme we'd hope they wouldn't touch (i.e. sheep loving), Black Sheep is an amusing night's entertainment for those that approach it with the right state of mind. If you are easily offended and gore averse, best give it a miss.