Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Black Sheep (2006)


Upon returning to the farm village he grew up in, Henry (Nathan Meister) soon discovers his brother, Angus (Peter Feeney) is performing experimental genetic research in order to create the perfect sheep. Things go awry quickly when two animal right activists accidentally release one of these sheep prematurly, unleashing a plague on the farm that turns all sheep it bites into killers, and people into man-sheep monsters!

Just read that. Read it again. As a dark humor comedy horror, with killer sheep, this New Zealand cult smash should have been one for the ages, hilarious to the very core. Unfortunately though, we get a mishandled mess that's more enjoyable for what it tries to be, than for what it actually is. In fact it's been my experience that cult films in general get more love for idea than execution, and Black Sheep just happens to be the prestine example of that.

Funny at times, odd at times, and just dumb at times, Black Sheep does a unique spin on the zombie genre, and entertwines under-acting, mis-drecting, and fun moments to make a quasi-entertaining film that just doesn't evolve into much. The director struggles to get out of the genre confines, containing several subtle visual references to films like Jurrasic Park, but nothing that'll really strike out at you, or put you on the floor laughing.

The movie does have some great lines, and the effects put forward by the WETA Workshop (of Lord of the Rings fame) are simply great, but it's not enough to make it a great film. The characters are more of charicterizations, the tough farm boy, the over the top new age animal lover, and the hypochondriac are great in design, but aren't executed nearly well enough to make them worth the effort. Their conversations feel forced, and the jokes more often than not fall flat.

Yet when Black Sheep is at its best it is up there with great comedies. I would love to tell you about them, but that would have to come with several spoilers, and really it's more the shock value that makes them work than anything. These certain situations are just hilarious, making the movie worth its runtime, and perhaps a cheap dvd rental. In the end though I can't say the bad and the good outweighed one another enough to recommend either way.

In the end it's not up for me to decide whether or not you should watch it, if oddball humor is your thing I say give it a shot. If you're looking for something intelligent, well written, and filled with comedy, you may want to keep looking.

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