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Black Sheep

(2007) ** Unrated
87 min. IFC First Take. Director: Jonathan King (III). Cast: Oliver Driver, Peter Feeney, Tammy Davis, Danielle Mason, Nathan Meister.

There'll always be an audience for tongue-in-cheek horror pictures, which bodes well for even the mediocre ones. Enter Kiwi writer-director Jonathan King, who contentedly mixes lame humor with cartoony gore in Black Sheep. Genetic engineering has caused the fluffy ones to go for the jugular on an upwardly mobile family farm in the Wellington countryside.

Sibling rivalry provides the human conflict, as long-gone Henry (Nathan Meister) returns to face his demons: specifically, his brother Angus (Peter Feeney), who—with a jaundiced eye toward the future of farming—turns out to be responsible for the ovine freaks of unnature. Also traipsing around the farm are a pair of ecoterorists: goofy Grant (Oliver Driver) is a born victim, while his soon-to-be ex-girlfriend Experience (Danielle Mason) catches Henry's eye. Maori farmhand Tucker provides the macho heroism Henry must "man up" to emulate. To complicate matters, King decides sheep bites will also transform humans into killer sheep, making Black Sheep a zombie-flick hybrid of sorts.

King's film is a boffo short wantonly stretched to feature-length, well beyond the scope of his ideas: the single pulse-raising moment is the funny-scary sight of sheep stampeding over a hill toward gobsmacked men and women in business suits (apologies to Hitchcock's flocks). The rest provides nothing one wouldn't expect from a horror comedy called Black Sheep, from its cliched dialogue to its "ewwwww"-inspiring motif of animal-human sex. The environmental thread strives to give the goings on a point, but its woolly stars aside, Black Sheep is toothless.

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