The horror comedy is a tricky genre to get right. Black Sheep goes borderline between both, yet never grabs either and runs with it. Its brief moments of humor, ridiculously over the top gore, and sheep mix for a mildly enjoyable romp.
Set in New Zealand and nabbing some gorgeous footage, Black Sheep deals with the ever popular genetic experiment that doesn’t go as planned. Ravenous, bloodthirsty sheep begin a rampage of classic proportions, munching on locals and turning them into were-sheep. No, it’s not supposed to make sense. That’s the joy of the film.
Weta Workshop makes a great looking sheep, not surprising given their resume from Lord of the Rings to King Kong. Nearly all effects are practical, with no CG hindering the fake sheep and monster suits.
There’s a very Tremors feel in the early going as two guys and a girl travel around the land searching for clues. Some attacks highlight the first hour, but the entire movie hinges on its final 30 minutes for the majority of the entertainment value as the sheep plague begins its takeover.
Black Sheep struggles with its tone, bouncing around from dark humor, into light humor, into horror, and into gory horror. It never settles into a rhythm, and it’s hard to become involved when you’re confused as to whether something is being played straight for comedy or played poorly due to the cast or script.
Gore fanatics will have plenty to play with here, as each death is riddled with blood. Sheep play tug of war with intestines, faces rip off cleanly, and a certain male “member” slowly pulled away from its host in the film’s toughest moment to watch. Again, most of this comes in the final chapter, though the wait is worth it.
Black Sheep is for a proper audience who knows what they’re getting into. It’s far from perfect, yet its target crowd will have their thrills and their laughs. Killer sheep is a new venture for films, and this marks a decent start… assuming someone else gets the insane idea to try this again.
A sharp, detailed DVD transfer will greet viewers when they pop this disc in. Compression is under control aside from a few minor scenes where the backgrounds are muted and solid. Superb contrast and black levels deliver incredible range. Color saturation is gorgeous.
The 5.1 presentation enhances the film greatly to deliver a far better experience than with any other options. The sheep stalk before attacking, moving into every speaker as they move through the room. Crowded scenes as the sheep assault grows showcase even more range, and the oversized were-sheep bring massive bass with each footstep.
Director Jonathan King and lead actor Nathan Meister lead the extras off on the disc with a commentary, which offers some decent fun. A 30+ minute making of varies between fair and better than average. There’s some decent behind-the-scenes footage included, yet it still has too much generic praising.
Deleted scenes with an optional King commentary offer slightly more insight into the characters, though not needed for the sparse running time of the film. A short blooper reel joins a scene supposedly shot exclusively for DVD, though it’s not even finished as the crew talks the actors through it off camera. The trailer finishes things off.
King is already as work on another horror/creature feature. Under the Mountain will begin production in early 2008, and will be based on the book that became a TV series involving alien slugs that turn into people. Hard to go wrong with that combo.