JUNE 14, 2007
Look at all those genres! And none of them “Crap”! Does that mean that, for the first time all week, I really liked a movie?
At a recent premiere afterparty, I met Zoe Bell (who, in an amazing coincidence, played a character named Zoe Bell in Grindhouse), who is from New Zealand. And much like I usually do whenever I am speaking to a beautiful woman, I managed to insult her, when I mistook New Zealand for Australia. Apparently, that’s like… I don’t even know what I could compare it to, if I wanted to compare it to something else people are always confusing (Bill Pullman and Bill Paxton?). But look, I don’t know the difference; I’m never going to know the difference; just deal with it.
I certainly lump the two together when I think about horror movies such as Black Sheep. I dub them all “Australian”: Black Sheep, Undead, Wolf Creek, Dead Alive… probably some others. But really, other than Dead Alive (and Bad Taste), I have never really enjoyed one (in fact, the two Peter Jackson films I mention I am more of a fan of the technical stuff, not so much the storytelling, acting, etc.). Undead was actually one of the first movies I watched for Horror Movie A Day (prior to the birth of the blog – some of the films I have gone back and added reviews for, but not all), and I thoroughly disliked it. The humor didn’t work, the story was generic, and the effects ranged from OK at best to downright terrible. And Wolf Creek I consider one of the most overrated horror movies of the decade.
So basically, when it comes to horror movies, I’m Kiwi-ist.
But Black Sheep changed that. While it doesn't really work as a remake of the Chris Farley movie, I really dug it. The main plot (i.e. sheep running around killing folks) begins almost immediately, after some quick setup and back-story, which is nice. Writer/Director Jonathan King knows that people are there to watch carnage, so the necessary background information is given swiftly. Our actors, none of whom I recognize, are universally appealing, especially Tucker, played by Tammy Davis (a guy named Tammy?). He reminded me of Desmond from Lost. "Yeh gonna die, brother!"
The technical aspects were uniformly great as well. It’s beautifully shot, even more impressive when you consider that King is a first time director (DP Richard Bluck has done a couple features). The score is also quite good; it reminded me of the better Danny Elfman scores. And the makeups are some of the best I’ve seen all year. Of course, it’s the WETA guys doing it, so that wasn’t really a surprise, but it’s still worth mentioning. This also means the DVD runs the risk of having 13 hours of bonus material devoted to how they crafted sheep hooves, all narrated by Richard Taylor, the droniest sleepy voiced man in human history. But that’s not the film’s fault.
I do wish, however, that we got a full blown transformation scene a la American Werewolf. In the film, when bitten by the infected sheep, they do not turn into zombies, but “weresheep”. This is awesome, except we never see the transformation. Instead, the bitten character will suddenly get wide eyed, then raise their arm or whatever and have a sheep body part. Then we cut away to a reaction or something, and when we come back they are full weresheep. Blah (I was tempted to write “Blaaaah” but I opted not to).
There’s also a subplot about a guy who fucks the sheep. It’s tastefully done.
My only regret is that I saw it in one of the most uncomfortable theaters in all of LA: The Laemmle’s 5 on Sunset. With non-reclining seats that would better suit an amputee fetus than an average size human being since the rows are spaced about half an inch apart, I couldn’t wait to get out of there. Luckily, the movie is short (87 min) because King, unlike his fellow Australians, doesn’t bloat his film to be over 3 hours long or introduce idiotic subplots like alien takeovers. Kudos, sir. My legs still hurt, but not as much as they would have had you gone the “more is more” route of your brethren.
The movie comes out next week, not sure how wide of a release it’s getting, but the Weinstein’s are distributing it, so it should at least get the same respect thatFeast got.
What say you?