If Charles Burnett’s recently restored and re-released Killer of Sheep only whetted your appetite for that white, fluffy barnyard animal, then Black Sheep might be the (im)perfect companion piece. Equal parts The Birds, Jurassic Park and The Host, Black Sheep is more a satire on the horror genre than it is a cautionary tale about genetic engineering-gone-wrong in the New Zealand countryside. It continually reinvents the most clichéd elements of the horror genre, using easily recognizable and iconic shots from any number of other films…but this time with sheep.
It’s a gag that doesn’t get old, mainly because of the clever special effects provided by the Weta Workshop (The Lord of the Rings trilogy), who detail the human-eating sheep without any sheepish reservations. The film’s sense of humor stems as much from its irreverence for plot as its willingness to go to the extremes — particularly when it comes to flatulence, disembowelment, and man-into-sheep transformations. Outlandish as it is, Black Sheep is also a near pitch-perfect absurdist reiteration of the lower depths of the horror genre that have been reclaimed in a way that few satires achieve.
Opens June 22