Violence of the Lambs

sarris blacksheep1h Violence of the LambsBLACK SHEEP
Running time 87 minutes
Written and directed by Jonathan King
Starring Matt Chamberlain, Nathan Meister, Danielle Mason

Jonathan King’s Black Sheep, from his own screenplay, has traveled all the way from New Zealand to provide us a mutant horror flick that is at once the scariest and funniest movie experience of the year thus far. Who could imagine that sheep, traditionally the most docile of creatures, could become the subject of a bloodthirsty spectacle like this?

As Mr. King explains, “It was exciting to discover how readily sheep could be transformed into monsters by exploiting their natural features. They’re actually powerful beasts with sharp hooves, splayed teeth and black, lizard eyes. It’s only a small imaginative shift to see a sheep as a scary and dangerous animal—and when you have tens, hundreds or thousands of them acting as a flock, the effect is terrifying.”

The horror is fictionally unleashed by an irresponsible genetic experiment with sheep that goes devastatingly awry with massively vampirish consequences for man and beast. Mr. King gilds the lily a bit by making his co-protagonist, Oliver Oldfield (Matt Chamberlain), so terrified of sheep to begin with that he has left his large sheep farm to seek therapy in the nearby city of Wellington, New Zealand. He is returning, still afflicted with his phobia, to sell his farm to his brother, Henry Oldfield (Nathan Meister). Unfortunately, that is when the trouble begins.

The film’s co-protagonist and female lead, the oddly named Experience (Danielle Mason), is an environmental activist spying with her fellow activist, Tucker (Tammy Davis), on suspiciously secret experiments with sheep, conducted by Henry. Attempting to expose this scientific tampering with nature, Experience and Tucker accidentally release one of the malignantly mutant sheep, and soon the entire flock is infected, as is (worst of all) Tucker, who becomes a weresheep in the process.

Meanwhile, Oliver has confronted his brother over the experiments, and Henry responds defiantly by handing Oliver a check for the farm and refusing to change his mind about the purchase or the ensuing experiments. Soon the sheep are running wild and threatening the whole community.

Oliver and Experience team up to reverse the viral infection of the sheep with an anti-toxin ironically developed in the same lab in which the virus was invented. There are, however, many close calls for both Oliver and Experience in their near-death encounters with the virulent sheep.

The film ends with a hilarious sound gag that I won’t reveal. Still, the most gruesomely satisfying spectacle for hard-core environmentalists would be that of a group of foreign investors in the evil enterprise being gobbled up by a flock of rampaging sheep.