Black Sheep

Black Sheep


Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

As a child, young Henry Oldfield is taunted by his older brother, who threatens him with pieces of dead sheep. Traumatically, this happens on the same day his father dies, leaving him with a lingering phobia. Twenty years later he returns, intending to sell his share of the farm and be done with it once and for all. But on his arrival he discovers that something is not right. There are strange experiments taking place in the outbuildings, his brother seems more warped than ever, and the sheep are restless...

Black Sheep is zombie movie-making by numbers (with a few werewolf genre staples thrown in), and it makes the kind of jokes about New Zealanders that only other New Zealanders could get away with. It also has a particularly tacky ending which labels it as very much a children's horror movie, if you believe in that sort of thing. But it also has a certain charm which enables it to keep its one joke going all the way through. As Henry, Nathan Meister strikes just the right balance between general uselessness and likability, whilst Danielle Mason makes a surprisingly resourceful heroine as the hippy who broke into the farm to protest against cruelty to animals and got more than she bargained for. Add Glenis Levestam as redoubtable housekeeper Mrs. Mac and you have a team who aren't going to give up easily, even when things get really woolly.

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Black Sheep is the debut movie from Jonathan King and it shows - he has some great ideas, particularly in making use of the way sheep move, thundering down hillsides in an unstoppable mass or milling around a car, refusing to let it pass - but his handling of action sequences lets him down. Struggles against a half-human, half-sheep monster in a dark barn are needlessly chaotic and hard to follow. The sheep's mass attack is full of pleasingly humorous moments but doesn't have the impact it should. Still, there is an underlying energy in this film which binds together its bits of brilliance and makes it fun to watch all the way through. It's perhaps not everything genre fans had hoped for, but it's well worth seeing.

Reviewed on: 11 Sep 2007
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Black Sheep packshot
Genetic experiments aimed at producing the perfect sheep go horribly wrong...
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Director: Jonathan King

Writer: Jonathan King

Starring: Nathan Meister, Danielle Mason, Peter Feeney, Tammy Davis, Glenis Levestam, Tandi Wright, Matthew Chamberlain

Year: 2006

Runtime: 87 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: New Zealand

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