31 Days Of Hell: Black Sheep (2006) - Reviewed

On paper, Black Sheep sounds ridiculous. The story revolves around genetically altered flesh eating sheep. The classic nature versus man plot has inspired dozens of easily forgettable movies. Yet Black Sheep isn’t your typical over the top horror movie, nor does it fall into the “so bad it's good” category. This crazy film was made in New Zealand with the special effects magic of the famed WETA workshop. The end result is a hilarious stomach turning blood fest.

When Henry suffers a traumatic experience on his family’s farm, he spends the next 10 years in therapy trying to cure his Ovinophobia - fear of sheep. He’s forced to face his fears when he returns home to sell his share of the family farm to his older brother. What really makes Nathan Meister’s portrayal as Henry so enjoyable is his straight forward nature. Though a comedy, Meister’s performance is serious, and his reactions of fear are genuine. It gives his scenes a natural comedy, rather than a gag reel of over the top reactions that are done merely to provoke laughs. Along with ranch hand Tucker (Tammy Davis), and animal rights activist Experience (Danielle Mason), the trio’s comedic chemistry works well with writer/director Jonathan King’s odd film. The horror aspect starts out slow, but as it manifests, it becomes a rabid wave of severed limbs and and intestines. Again, the concept is silly, perhaps provoking reserved expectations. This works in the film’s favor, making the gore all the more shocking. It’s an approach that New Zealand horror films are quietly know for. 

Tastes Like Lamb Chops.
The ridiculous idea turns out to be a baa baa brilliant film. Large flocks of sheep stampede across the country side in search of human flesh. It's hard not to laugh at until one of the white wooly demons starts gnawing on someone’s neck. WETA gained world wide fame after Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, and their effects for Black Sheep are equally top notch. WETA created several demonic puppets and even a mechanical sheep suit for the film. Their attention to detail is impressively disgusting. WETA’s contributions really are the difference maker in this film. 

Without the realistic portrayal of gore, this film would have fallen into the abyss of mediocre horror. The movie just wouldn’t have had the same impact if it was overly produced with CGI or made using cheap corn syrup blood and fake prosthetic limbs. As with most movies filmed in New Zealand, the setting is gorgeous. The film takes place on a post card worthy green-hilled farm. There are several shots that pan the rural terrain, occasionally giving peeks of the Tasman Sea. It’s beautiful scenery until some unsuspecting soul gets his face ripped off. Black Sheep is one of the rare times a crazy mutated animal inspired movie just works. It may start off a bit slow, but once this film gets going, it doesn’t stop. With a solid cast, original plot, and amazing effects, this film is full of gory surprises.    

--Lee L. Lind