Retro Review: BLACK SHEEP (2006){0}

If there were a whole list of movies about killer mutated sheep and the horrific things they do to people, Jonathan King’s “Black Sheep” would be the very best. But since it’s the only movie with this particular premise, let’s just call it a really funny, not very scary, enthusiastically gory, and surprisingly “lovely to look at” little import from the genre geeks in New Zealand.

Definitely NOT to be mistaken for a movie that takes itself seriously, “Black Sheep” is a splatter-time genre comedy that takes a few cues from the early works of Sam Raimi and (especially) Peter Jackson, and then infuses just enough freshness and enthusiasm to make the effort worthwhile. You’ve heard the plot a hundred times before (genetic engineering turns animals loco!) but damn if first-time director King doesn’t deliver an energetic little treat. When the movie’s not delivering sly little quips and broadly amusing performances, it’s focusing on some of the craziest sheep-related carnage you could ever imagine. And yes, it’s all absurd. That’s kind of the point.

Not so much a spoof or a satire as it is a straight comedy in a horror flick’s clothing, Black Sheep is at its best when it’s doling out the mayhem, but fortunately for Mr. King … he had a fine casting director. Nathan Meister and Peter Feeney are quite excellent as a pair of outrageously mis-matched brothers, and the plucky Danielle Mason steals a whole bunch of scenes as the gal along for the ride. Most likely you’ll be sitting down with Black Sheep because you can’t continue living until you see killer mutated sheep and the violence of the lambs and all that jazz — but it’s good to know that the “in-between” bits (you know, the stuff with all the plot and dialogue) is actually entertaining.

Special props go out to the gore department and the unexpectedly stunning cinematography by Richard Bluck. It’s reassuring to know that some countries approach “indie horror” with some degree of class and quality. (Well, we do it sometimes, but not too often.) The flick might not be the next cult-flick phenomenon, but it’s quite a bit better that “not baa-aaa-aaad.” (Oh, come on, you knew that was coming.) “Limited release” patterns may spell a home video viewing for many of you, but definitely consider the movie Fearnet-approved.