Saturday, February 25, 2012

Black Sheep

It's strange that a New Zealand made horror-comedy about genetically engineered killer sheep hasn't infiltrated the popular lexicon.

But it hasn't!

Black Sheep begins with a young man with a crippling phobia of sheep returning to his family's New Zealand sheep farm following the death of his father. He arrives to find that his brother has been conducting experiments on the sheep to improve their wool. But these experiments have unintended side effects. The sheep have been given a voracious hunger for human flesh.

Naturally, the intervention of radical animal activists lets loose the sheep and mayhem ensues.

And grand mayhem it is indeed. We get to watch our phobic protagonist and friends battling these deadly, yet extremely innocent looking foes. And very few things can provide as much bizarre joy as seeing sheep leap through the air and tackling unexpecting farmers.

The sheep attacks are always played for laughs but are also exciting and well-paced. The creature effects for the film were all done by New Zealand's own Weta Workshop (the group responsible for the stunning models and creature effects in the Lord of the Rings films), so the monsters are frightening when they're supposed to be and hysterical the rest of the time. Like the creature effects, the other elements of the film's production value are also quite high. The cast is clever and charming with their kiwi accents being endearing and menacing as need be. The farm setting is rendered well and a final segment involving a crop-duster and a series of explosions is of a suitably grand-scale.

Black Sheep is a popcorn midnight-movie in the best sense. It's absurd, coarse (there are a few sheep sex jokes thrown in for good measure), and suitably original in a genre where little invention is expected. It's recommended fare for viewers who want to watch a film and say aloud "I can't believe someone made a film about this!"

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