Carnivorous sheep run amok on a New Zealand farm in Jonathan Kingâ€™s silly horror/comedy Black Sheep. Protagonist Henry Oldfield suffers from a peculiar phobia, a paralyzing fear of sheep following a childhood prank by his sinister older brother, Angus. After moving to the city and going into therapy, Henry returns years later to sell his part of the farm to his brotherâ€”just as two environmentalists are trespassing onto the property to uncover genetic experiments being performed on the livestock. No sooner than you can say â€œzombie sheepâ€ a mutated lamb fetus crawls off, its bite transforming the sheep into vicious meateaters. And humans bitten by the infected sheep slowly morph into what can best be described as, well, goofy â€œweresheepâ€ cast off from the island of Dr. Moreau. Henry and a female environmentalist named Experience battle the zombie sheep, the weresheep and Henryâ€™s phobias. Scares and laughs ensue. Supposedly.
Striving to capture the tone of comedic horror movies such as Shawn of the Dead and Slither, Black Sheep unfortunately fails to deliver either laughs or chills. The horror/comedy ratio is out of whack: the humor is much too broad (â€œWhoâ€™s driving?â€ one of the characters in the back of a pickup truck screams; cut to the shot of a killer sheep behind the steering wheel) and the horror almost nonexistent. In the only frightening sequence early in the movie, a sheep stands at the end of a corridor–its silhouette preposterously threateningâ€”as the phobic protagonist confronts his worst nightmare. Unfortunately, his neuroses are overcome way too easilyâ€”particularly given the circumstances, which would seem to validate his fears. The movie is also undermined by two scientists who perform genetic experiments in an evil, over-the-top Austin Powers sort of way.
I really wanted to like this oneâ€”zombie sheep? whatâ€™s not to like?â€”but in the end this one was just b-a-a-d.
By Mercurio D. Rivera for Senses Five Press