Main cast: Nathan Meister (Henry Oldfield), Peter Feeney (Angus Oldfield), Danielle Mason (Experience), Tammy Davis (Tucker), Oliver Driver (Grant), and Glenis Levestam (Mrs Mac)
Director: Jonathan King
Henry Oldfield and his brother Angus don’t get along well. At all. Case in point, when they were younger, Angus cheerfully murdered Henry’s pet lamb out of jealousy (their father just praised Henry for being a natural around the sheep farm) and used the corpse for a prank on Henry. That joke wasn’t just cruel but badly timed as well: both boys learned shortly after that their father had been killed in an accident. The whole ordeal caused Henry to develop a deep-seated phobia of sheep.
Today, Henry comes back to the farm after understandably having stayed away in the last fifteen years. Angus wants to sell off the family farm but first he has to buy Henry’s share of the farm from him. Henry feels that if he agrees to Angus’s request, he could somehow repair their relationship and find some closure for his past. His shrink recommends that he comes back here to face Angus in person, so here he is. What Henry doesn’t know is that Angus has been working with some creepy scientists to genetically modify some sheep, and what Angus doesn’t know is that these scientists have been working on some… “extra” things on their test subjects.
Two animal activists, Grant and Experience, break into the lab to sabotage the “reckless” works conducted in there, only to set free a genetically modified lamb that proceeds to bite and infect other sheep, turning them (and Grant, who also gets bitten) into hungry sheep with a taste for raw flesh. Infected folks, like Grant, even turn into some man-sheep hybrid monsters. Soon, Henry, his old friend Tucker, Experience, and some other folks find themselves trapped in a farm, surrounded by many angry and hungry sheep…
Black Sheep has an inventive premise, but this flick, made in New Zealand, doesn’t have the budget to make it work. Oh, there is a decent budget, but it doesn’t seem enough for the special effects needed, as the sheep monsters look very artificial when they are on hungry man-eater mode, and Grant’s sheep-human hybrid form resembles more like a low-budget version of a werewolf in the midst of transformation. The scenes of gore also suffer from some really fake-looking effects. Still, there is enough money to hire some actors that can act and bring on the funny. so in many ways, the money is well-spent here.
The script is hit or miss. Some one-liners work, others are so obvious and bad that they make me cringe. I like how Experience is ditsy and kooky without being too idiotic or too much of a liability, and it’s nice that she has some personality outside of being solely the love interest. The cast play one another off very well, with Henry being neurotic and funny while Angus is a deliciously mean fellow. All are stereotypes in many ways, but they are just fun to follow here.
At the end of the day, it’s just too bad that the scary moments are more hokey than frightening. The greatest strength of Black Sheep is its comedy, but even that is a mixed bag. This movie is an adequate watch for a lazy afternoon, and it’s certainly far better than I expected it to be at first. It’s just too bad that this movie could obviously be so much better.