Watching: Black Sheep

Not baaaaaad, not baaaaaaad at all.

I got pretty excited a couple of weeks back when I first saw the trailer for the new kiwi film Black Sheep - a schlocky horror comedy tale of genetically modified killer sheep on the ram-page. (Oh, I've got more, don't ewe worry about that).

Anyway, after slogging through a bunch of study stuff, I managed to get out and see it last night and had a ball.

Here's the trailer:

The sheep are marvellous, whipped up by the effects wizards at Peter Jackson's Weta Workshop (source of the coolness in the Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Host - and about a million other projects including the upcoming Halo movie).

There are lashings of gore - organs positively abound - it's easily one of the most visceral films I've seen recently, moving into slightly less intellectual Cronenberg territory - more in the zombie movie tradition of bloody sinew ripping and tearing as the sheep chow down on us pesky humans. (There's also a fantastically gruesome trip to the offal pit and even the making of haggis brings it.)

The story is nothing amazing - it manages to tick all the right boxes with the mad scientist, the return home to face up to childhood trauma and so on - it's not Shakespeare but it's not trying to be. There are some great lines and that dry smart kiwi sense of humour pops up from time to time (in between some pretty funny and not overdone gags about farts and sheep shagging) and while the eco-activists angle has been taken before, it's nice to see some holistic hippy solutions used well in saving the day along the way (acupuncture, aromatherapy and meditation/chakra stuff in particular).

The heroes are all likable and good (or interesting) looking - which is something of a genre requirement, the sound and vision are beautiful (is it possible to shoot an ugly film in New Zealand with all that scenery? Even Once Were Warriors looked like a pretty place to live) and everything seems well resolved with no obvious plot holes or "why would they do that" moments.

One of the other things I really liked was the humans transformed into sheep monsters thing - which drew far more from the werewolf genre stylistically than anything else. It's been a long time since I've seen it but American Werewolf in London came to mind at times.

Black Sheep is a fast moving, easily watchable (if you have a stomach for lashings of very visceral gore), quite funny and highly enjoyable flick. I'd still rate The Host slightly higher, but only by the narrowest of margins and they really do sit in fairly different sub-genres of horror so comparison isn't entirely right. (And I'd say the makers of The Host threw a bucketload more money at their movie as well).

85% (The movie website is pretty awesome too - check it out here)