International Writers Magazine: Review
In a mix between iffy
acting and special effects these sections of the film are reminiscent
of the bad 1980s werewolf films. Here, instead of werewolves, the
infected turn into human-sized, fuzzy, zombie sheep. With mangled hoof
appendages and orange eyes. They are embellished with an abundance of
fake blood splashed artistically over their huge toothed snouts.
at sheep in quite the same way again is a by product of viewing
"Black Sheep". A panoramic New Zealand set is the backdrop
for this black comedy. The clichéd zombie infection plot
with sheep as the affected masses is as ridiculous a plotline as
you can imagine it would be. Yet writer and director Jonathan King
take it many steps further. Infected leading characters Henry (Nathan
Meister), Angus (Peter Feeny), and Grant (Oliver Driver), once bitten,
actually transform into giant sheep.
The plot of the film has one time favourite son Henry returning to his
deceased fathers 5th generation sheep farm now run by older brother
Angus. Henry left the farm at the age of ten after his brother Angus,
the villain of the film, tormented Henry and caused him to develop an
intense phobia of sheep. The film picks up 15 years later when Henry returns
to the farm for the first time in the hope of "moving on".
The film soon enters into its horror plotline as hippy activists Experience
(Danielle Mason) and Grant (Driver) come onto the scene in hope of preventing
the destruction of organic farming. Instead they manage to set free a
test subject, a bottled foetus sheep from a dubious looking laboratory.
Hence this leads to the mutated sheep of the films title.
These are blood loving sheep, not especially daunting, though it is a
wonder they got animal protection agencies to agree to expose animals
to the blood, guts and gore that run freely throughout the film. The overuse
of internal organs on the outside of bodies very quickly de-sensitizes
the audience. The gasps early on in the film as Grants ear is bitten
off by the escaped mutant foetus sheep is one of the last times the audience
reacts strongly to the horrific scenes. Too much blood and gore mean that
although the horror scenes are comic the special effects are wasted later
in the film.
The overall comedy of the plot is worn out in the title and opening scenes.
Zombie sheep can only carry a film so far, the rest is done by the actors
and Meister and Mason carry this well. The predictable script and running
joke of sheep looking complacent whilst covered with blood fades into
the background. The best bits come in the form of slight, understated
jokes that come out of nowhere and yet set a standard of humour that the
film never really seems to expand. The old jokes of standard zombie comedies
are touched on and leave the viewer with a strong sense that the only
difference between this comedy and "Shaun of the Dead"
is the ever present sheep. Overall, it is not the finished effect King
was probably looking for, though the film does offer sufficient weirdness
to suite the alternative crowd whilst still offering just enough regurgitated
zombie jokes to keep a commercial audience happy. A little tedious towards
the end perhaps, but the oddness of the whole thing may just make up for
© Madeleine Collis November 2007
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