A treat for horror-comedy fans, Kiwi filmmaker Jonathan King’s ‘mutant killer sheep’ movie is as lively as a spring lamb, as bloody as a bucketful of offal, and as tongue-in-cheek comic as its original poster tagline promised: ‘There are 40 million sheep in New Zealand… and they’re pissed off!’ With affectionate nods to Peter Jackson’s early splatter comedies, ‘Bad Taste’ and ‘Braindead’, it cuts right to the funny bone. Blending gags and gore can be tricky, but King maintains a perfect balance between sheep-shagging silliness and character-based comedy.
Sheep-phobic Henry Oldfield (Nathan Meister) returns to the family farm to claim a buy-out payment from his older brother, Angus (Peter Feeney), a dyed-in-the-wool sheep-fancier who takes a hands-on approach to the engineering of a new super-breed. But before Henry can flee, a pair of animal rights activists, Experience (Danielle Mason) and Grant (Oliver Driver), unleash mayhem. Their accidental release of a mutated sheep foetus transforms the entire herd from cuddly to cannibalistic. With the help of farmhand Tucker (Tammie Davis) and repentant eco-warrior Experience, Henry fights a rearguard action. But he hasn’t reckoned with the mutant strain jumping the species barrier, changing bitten humans into flesh-craving weresheep.
Knowing without being geeky, bloody without being nasty, ‘Black Sheep’ is one of the few films one would dare mention in the same sentence as the touchstone of all horror comedy, ‘An American Werewolf in London’. The performances may be uneven, but the flawed characters are believable, the sheep surprisingly scary and the animal antics often laugh-out-loud funny.