STARRINGNathan Meister - Henry
Peter Feeney - Angus
Danielle Mason - Experience
Matthew Chamberlain - Oliver
Oliver Driver - Grant
Year - 2006
Howl - 2.5 Howls Outta 4
You remember how 2006 was the Year of the Penguin in films? Well I think 2007 is the Year of the Sheep. And why shouldn't it? Sheep play a very important part in our lives. We count them in order to sleep. We wear their wool to keep warm. We eat them because they're delicious. Some of us have... intimate relationships with them [sigh]. Sheep are our friends...
...that is, until they're genetically altered to the point that they because vicious creatures who enjoy the taste of human flesh! How do we destroy killer sheep whose bites will turn humans into sheep themselves? BLACK SHEEP [not the Chris Farley/David Spade comedy of the same name] attempts to show us what we need to do during a crisis like this. While the idea of adding a werewolf/zombie element to sheep is an interesting and unique take within the horror genre, it doesn't totally succeed in the way I'm sure the filmmakers wanted it to.
PLOTTwo New Zealand boys named Henry and Angus live on a sheep farm. Apparently, their father dies in an accident involving sheep, creating a fear of sheep for Henry. Years later, Henry (Nathan Meister) returns to his old farm. He finds out that his brother Angus (Peter Feeney) is a politician who is experimenting on sheep, trying to create the perfect bunch of sheep genetically. Henry, trying to stop his brother, meets a local animal activist named Experience (Danielle Mason), whose boyfriend was bitten by one of these genetic sheep and may be turning into one himself. Along with Henry's friend Oliver (Matthew Chamberlain), the three of them are attacked by these evil carnivorous sheep as the entire town is being overrun by them.
BLACK SHEEP is an interesting concept for a horror film. I mean, killer sheep who feed on flesh and turn humans into were-sheep? It's genius! Too bad it's not totally used to its full potential, as the film is more for laughs than for actual scares. Then again, it would be pretty silly to be afraid of evil sheep. But still, it's not really an effective film because there's a lack of excitement, suspense, and tension that makes us care for any of the characters in the film. Plus while I get that the film is a tongue-in-cheek affair, I was never sure if this was supposed to be a parody or not. Plus most of the humor was more stupid than funny. It's a good B-movie because it's goofy, but I guess I was just expecting a bit more out of it.
I think one of my problems with the film is that these characters are not really likable. They annoyed me more than anything. Henry's afraid of sheep. I mean, a really bad case of ovinophobia. I'm cool with that. But his reason for the fear is ridiculous. His father was killed in an accident dealing with sheep. So his son is afraid of them now? Plus all he did was whine and look like a total coward until the end. And then there's that Experience lady. Oh God, annoying with a capital A! Not only did she do some really stupid things, but she had the most pointless and stupid lines I have ever heard come out from a stereotypical blonde character in a long time. If she wasn't a spiritual vegan hippy, I would have thought she was related to Kelly Bundy. You had no idea how badly I wanted the sheep to eat her. Does that happen? I won't say but I wanted it to happen every time I saw her on screen. Apparently her parents hated her [her name anyone?] and she apparently hated me, which is why I suffered watching her on screen. The only character I did like was the evil Angus, who acted like a prick and looked like a prick doing it. Again, the villain got more of my sympathy and empathy than the heroes.
I did enjoy the direction by Jonathan King. The action/kill scenes were very well shot and the picture was absolutely beautiful. I also enjoyed the FX by Weta Workshop, who also did the effects for the LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy and THE HOST. The were-sheep looked really good [nice makeup and costumes], the transformation scenes were top-notch for a low-budget horror film, and even the mechanical retarded-looking Lamb Chop was decently done. But I think the direction would have been better if the script was better. The killer sheep angle is pretty much one-note without any kind of substance or meaning behind it. The script isn't witty or smart. I thought some of the dialogue was atrocious. Especially most of the lines said by Experience. And there was one scene in particular where the sheep invaded a truck where Henry, Experience, and Oliver were riding. Henry had a chainsaw working, yet dropped it on the road once he turned it on. And then Oliver, who had a rifle next to him that he could have used to kill the killer sheep, instead gives it to Henry, who's riding in the back outside. Then Henry doesn't even bother shooting at the sheep. Instead, Oliver gets out of the driver's seat to get to where Henry is in the back, letting the sheep drive the damn truck. Eventually all the humans jump off the truck while the sheep drives over a cliff.
WHAT REAL PEOPLE DO THAT!?
I don't know about you, but if I was being attacked by a killer sheep and I had a gun beside me, I would...I don't know...SHOOT HIS BRAINS OUT??? I guess running away and letting the sheep kill himself makes it easier on the conscience. I know this is supposed to be a silly horror film, but some realism would be nice. I'm supposed to get behind these idiots? Nah, I'll root for the sheep to murder them. Just lazy screenwriting in my opinion. It prevented the film from being a true classic.
And even though I hated the characters and how they were written, the actors did their best making them likable. I'm not gonna go through every actor, but the acting was well-done with great delivery. Can't complain about it. I just wish they had more interesting stuff to work with.
THE FINAL HOWL
BLACK SHEEP was a let-down for me. Yeah I had fun watching these stupid people deal with evil sheep, but so much more could have been done with the film that wasn't. There's blood, guts, a few laughs, and good performances - but they don't really add up to much in the end. I would definitely rent this because to be quite honest, I don't think I would see this one more than once. Maybe try watching this one under some kind of influence. Maybe you'll enjoy it a lot more than I did.