If you read on you’ll find Tex’s review of Dimension Films and IFC’s upcoming Black Sheep (old review here), which played at this year’s SXSW Film Festival in Austin, Texas. Jonathan King’s film, which hits theaters June 22, follows an experiment in genetic engineering that turns harmless sheep into blood-thirsty killers that terrorize a rural town in New Zealand.
Reviewed By: Tex Massacre
8/10 or 4 Skulls
Warning! This film is about Killer Sheep. If you have an aversion to wool products, are Vegan, or an active member of PeTA you should avoid viewing this film under all circumstances.
I don’t know what the hell they put in the water in New Zealand but those cats are crazy. First time filmmaker Jonathan King delivers a no holds barred look at lambs gone wild. Clearly influenced by fellow kiwi cinemaniac Peter Jackson, King’s film is like DEAD ALIVE with mutton.
Taking a page out of the mad scientist handbook, BLACK SHEEP concerns the bizarre inner-workings of New Zealand’s largest sheep farm. Owned by a pair of brothers Angus (Peter Feeny) and Henry (Nathan Meister) the farm is secretly conducting experiments on genetically engineered animals.
Angus is the bad brother, the Machiavellian controller over their father’s empire. Henry has no clue what’s going on. He’s terrified of sheep and hasn’t set foot on the property for years. He only arrives at the outset of the story to pick up a check from Angus for selling his share of the land. But, when he and Tucker (WHALE RIDER’S Tammy Davis), the farm manager, set out to survey the property one last time, the run into Experience (Danielle Mason) an activist whose bumbling buddy accidentally unleashes a toxic zombie lamb that starts infecting the entire flock. Things don’t look good, but somehow this group of misfits is going to have to figure out how to fight off the rampaging livestock and save the family farm from ruin.
To simply call BLACK SHEEP extreme would seriously under represent the film’s utter madness. The entrails are flying as fast as the comedy and with that much assault something is bound to stick. Despite the obvious and outrageous splatter effects, in this movie every moment is played for laughter, and that serves two different purposes: One—if you miss a few minutes of film because you just shot 48 ounces of coke straight out of your nose you can catch the next joke coming in succession. Two—you can get away with anything in film that is set up as unrealistically as this. That second point will be tested when the MPAA gets a hold of one of the final shocking moments on screen. I’d never spoil it for you except to say that….[DON’T YOU DARE READ THE REST OF THIS SENTENCE]…some things should never be bit off on camera!
King has managed to really nail the absurdist humor of the situation. I mean, come on…its zombie sheep here! This is not haughty social commentary or lofty cerebralist satire, this is run and scream and try not to slip in the mud and the crud and the guts and the blood moviemaking—but if you do fall, it’s fine cause we’re all just gonna point and laugh at you anyway. It also makes the film hard to critique.
It seems crystal clear that King and his crew accomplished what they set out to do. So, I have nothing but accolades to bestow. BLACK SHEEP is flocking hilarious and destined for the same near mythic cult status that has been bestowed on favorite son Peter Jackson’s early oeuvre.
Obviously looking to avoid being pigeon holed as the next son-of-splatter, the filmmaker’s second feature, THE TATTOOIST will pit the director’s wry sensibilities against what appears to be a straight forward suspense thriller. Now, I’m not sure I’m ready to accept King as a serious filmmaker after the sidesplitting chaos that is catapulted on screen in this film, but then again, who’d have ever suspected the director of MEET THE FEEBLES would be winning academy awards either?