Black Sheep (2006)
★★★ / ★★★★
Two environmentalists, Experience (Danielle Mason) and Grant (Oliver Driver), snuck into the Oldfield farm to gather evidence of genetic engineers’ maltreatment of animals. When Grant got ahold of a jar containing a deformed baby sheep, he tripped and the container shattered. He was bitten by the creature and the infection spread which turned sheep into carnivores and humans into human-sheep hybrids. Written and directed by Jonathan King, “Black Sheep” was cheeky, creative, and bloody disgusting. Sheep are not scary animals but the filmmakers tried very hard to make it seem like they were. I relished the scenes in which the harmless actual sheep were placed next to mangled bodies. They looked so innocent even with red goo, which was supposed to look like blood, on their faces. But the obvious sheep puppets were utilized during the gorier scenes and kill shots. We saw their mouths violently wrapping around people’s necks, pulling on intestines, and chewing on limbs. There was a gleefully amusing sequence in which businessmen from various countries were attacked by a flock of rabid sheep. However, despite the fun it was having, I wish the relationship between the Oldfield brothers, Henry (Nathan Meister) and Angus (Peter Feeney), were explored in a more thoughtful manner because it would have been a great contrast to the comic nature of murderous sheep. Underneath the material’s light-hearted tone, there was a deeply-rooted, unsaid rancor between the two. In the first few scenes, young Angus seemed jealous of Henry because he seemed like a natural farmer. Out of frustration, Angus, a disturbed teen, killed an unsuspecting healthy sheep, took its skin and head and scared his brother in a barn prior to receiving news that their father had a terrible accident. Henry’s phobia of sheep was a source of comedy but the film didn’t rely on one joke. It had something to say about activists who sometimes felt like they needed to rely on extremes so that others would see the messages they wanted to get across. The picture argued that their extreme actions could be as wrong, even as responsible, as those who were insensitive to animals. “Black Sheep” constantly surprised me by keeping Experience, Henry, and Tucker (Tammy Davis), a childhood friend, moving across the farm. We even had a chance to follow our protagonists underground as they attempted to crawl away from the flesh-eating sheep. The increasingly claustrophobic space was a great change from the natural open spaces. I enjoyed it for the risks the filmmakers were willing to take. It requires courage to take an original idea, no matter how ridiculous it may seem, and just go with it.