Thursday, October 11, 2007

Black Sheep

I really, truly hate writing bad reviews. For one thing, there's less to say in such a case; secondly, enough of you folk frame me as negative already; thirdly, and probably most significantly, they don't really contribute as much as a positive review.

So, if you think you'll enjoy Black Sheep, go and see it. Personally, I couldn't stand it and I never want to see a single frame of the misbegotten thing again as long as I live.

The premise is simple/simplistic: a genetic engineering experiment is supposed to create the perfect sheep - at least from a mercantile perspective. A pair of eco-protestors unwittingly release a mutant sheep from this experimentation (or perhaps it's just a mutant sheep foetus, or maybe even just a slightly melted puppet of Lambchop smeared with KY jelly - I couldn't be entirely sure) and it bites sufficient people and sheep to start a pandemic of zombie-vampire-weresheep. And, that, basically is it - bolt onto this the regulation heroes, villains, comedy relief and utterly predictable structure and you have, basically, the entire film laying bare before you and challenging you not to wipe your boots upon it.

The jokes are really baad (See what I did there? Yep, I ripped off an actual example of the film's terrible, terrible gags and threw it back like a hand grenade with twice-c
hewed gum inside instead of explosive), the interior logic is nothing of the sort, the mise en scene is, at best, perfunctory and there are enough truly, honestly shameful pieces of bad editing and cinematography that, if I'd made this film, I'd now make like Scorsese and Money and pretend it never happened. In particular, look out for the eyeline-match cuts into impossible POV shots of things that are miles away or behind other things - each one felt like a horseshoe dropping onto my head.

Jonathon King seems to think his film reflects some home truths of New Zealand society, much the way Peter Jackson's Brain Dead did but, really, the reflection is purely incidental and rather muddy: they have sheep in New Zealand, and these sheep play a part in the country's economy - and that's about as deep as it goes.

There's nothing more for me to say other than Black Sheep hits UK cinemas tomorrow, Friday 12th October, and is out on R1 US DVD very soon too. Check out the EweTube and MintyMassacre websites if you suspect you might disagree with my opinion and want to know more about this wretched monstrosity. Still not sure? There's a couple of viral videos designed to hype the film - Snig's End and Petting Zoo - and while they don't look or act like the film and only one contains any footage from the film, they might encourage/discourage you and are, at least, not that long.


artnude said...

Wow, pretty scathing review of a film that obviously did not take itself as seriously as you did.
Dude, relax, have a drink and enjoy the movie for what it was, a silly romp in familiar territory.
I enjoyed the hell out of it, much like I did Bad Taste, Dead/Alive, Return of the living dead, the re-animator series, etc.
I would in no way compare the quality of this film with those mentioned above, but it had the same quirky spirit that I enjoy.
Sometimes a stupid funny movie can be just that.
And it can be totally enjoyable if you see it for what it is, not what you imagine it is trying to be.
Just my humble opinion.

Brendon said...

But I am doing exactly that, in fact. Any film - I don't care which - has certain things to do if it wants to communicate itself, in ANY way, to the audience. And this film fails even at that.

I'm not imagining this film to be anything. Indeed, it could be said that you are by condescending it with low expectations.

This was a badly made film and it has no 'quirky spirit' - how can a hand me down style from a series of successful and well-meant films, such as those you named, pass as a 'quirk'? It's a style that the director stepped into, in no different a way any hack might try to do the regulation Hollywood horror film, say.

It is a stupid movie, yes, but I certainly wouldn't agree it's funny. It fails quite comprehensively to be funny in the way that, say, a kid's jokebook does - it's stuffed full of weak variants on shopworn groaners.

There's clearly an audience for films like this, and they'll very possibly take this one to heart, but that's not a fair judgement, that's an implicit bias. And there's no way that, in even a couple of years, this film will be cherished in the way some of Jackson or Raimi's old gems still are.

A bad film is still a bad film and bad filmmaking is still bad filmmaking even if you are happy to just say "dumb film, I'll laugh along - what the heck".