Herald rating: * * * *
Yes, we do make rather a lot of horror movies around here. It's almost become a rite of passage for young directors making the leap from short films and music clips to get a horror under their belt so they can get maximum sales out of a minimum budget. And it didn't do that Jackson bloke any harm.
Jonathan King's Black Sheep, of course, owes a lot to Jackson's early offal oeuvre of Bad Taste and Brain Dead - and not just because its mad mutant flesh-eating sheep are built by Weta Workshop.
It's also there in the splatstick comedy - like those early works of Uncle Pete's, King's film knows that fine line between yuk-yuk, yuck, chuckle and chuck.
It does have a rather complicated set-up to navigate before the flock runs amok.
That involves young sheephobic Henry Oldfield (Meister) who has headed back to the family farm to sell his half to older brother Angus (Feeney). But just as Henry arrives, eco-activists break into Angus' GM lab. Soon the back paddock has become a killing field just as overseas investors in Angus' new wonder sheep are arriving to see the results of his breeding programme.
The film does suffer a little from random outbreaks of acting from some of its leads who don't seem to be in on the joke. Although Driver as greenie turned big nasty ovine creature is worryingly convincing, Outrageous Fortune star Davis provides just the right amount of laconic Kiwi rural humour before he too faces the you-are-what-ate-you transformation, and Feeney as the square-jawed Angus is a perfect blend of mad scientist and Kiwi landed gentry who bravely suffers a scene which has him involved in the film's greatest indignity.
And surely it's a sign of national maturity to have us telling sheep jokes against ourselves and selling them to the world. Black Sheep won't be to everyone's bad taste. But it's got plenty of it to keep us chuckling until that next Sunday roast.
Cast: Nathan Meister, Danielle Mason, Peter Feeney, Tammy Davis, Oliver Driver, Glenis Levestam, Tandi Wright
Director: Jonathan King
Rating: R13 (violence, horror scenes, offensive language)
Running time: 89 mins
Screening: SkyCity, Hoyts
Verdict: Mad man-eating sheep? Talk about laugh, mate