Black Sheep (2006) Review: Oddly Serious Sheep Mayhem
“Get ready for the Violence of the Lambs!”
Synopsis: An experiment in genetic engineering turns harmless sheep into bloodthirsty killers that terrorize a sprawling New Zealand farm.
Ludwig von Stroodle:
Black Sheep is a cautionary tale for Kiwi sheep farmers about the dangers of modern science. The opening scene immediately establishes the antagonist as a psychopath – opening with a scene of him murdering his younger brother’s favorite sheep with an axe, and then dressing up in its bloody carcass while leaping out from the shadows to terrify his brother. (A common prank in New Zealand?) But the wimpy kid (Nathan Meister), unable to take a joke, develops a lifelong sheep phobia (ovinaphobia). Now he’s come back home, only to discover that his big bro (Peter Feeney)has been working on genetically engineered super sheep, both for business and uh, “personal” reasons. Since you can’t genetically engineer anything without beginning a zombie apocalypse, naturally, they accidentally unleash a horde of deranged super sheep.
Despite the ridiculous premise, the filmmakers decided to play it mostly straight. No meta references, no running gags, and most of the jokes are subtle and occur naturally in the dialog instead of feeling like they’re set up (and there’s no pausing for laughter). Even the scenes that were intentionally made to be over the top, laugh-out-loud ridiculous still feel oddly serious.
The serious atmosphere might just be because of how great the special effects were. And by “great,” I mean “disgusting.” The sheep biting off a dude’s junk would have been laughable if it weren’t so cringingly gross. All of the effects were really well done; there is a man-to-sheep transformation scene that’s better than anything I’ve seen in a werewolf movie. The movie looks so good, they almost manage to make sheep frightening.
Almost. The movie falls into a weird niche where it’s really well done, but it isn’t scary (because sheep), and there’s not quite enough comedy to carry it either (despite the absurd premise and some absolutely ridiculous scenes). It’s mostly just a really bad movie that was fantastically made.
Ludwig von Stroodle’s Rating: B-