The biggest downside to Black Sheep would be how frustratingly middling it ends up being once you get past its inspired selling point. Quite obviously manufactured as a valentine to fellow New Zealander, Peter Jackson whose Bad Taste and Dead Alive are direct influences on writer-director Jonathan Kings yarn of mutated killer sheep on the rampage.
As subtle as a fist through the sphincter, King debuts with guns cocked and checklist of references in hand, including an exceptionally crafted tribute to the best sequence in An American Werewolf in London. It does involve were-sheep (or is that were-wools?) on the prowl in moors, which is an especially stirring prospect when you consider that in New Zealand, sheep outnumber humans 12 to 1. And King acknowledges the absurdity of his premise with blunt enthusiasm, perhaps even too bluntly considering that his horror-comedy has no aspirations for longevity.
It does not have the calculated hilarity of Hot Fuzz or its predecessor, nor does it have the claustrophobic horror of Isolation, which prefigures the sanguinary nature of murderous mutated cattle and it definitely does not share the wanton bloodletting of Boy Eats Girl. Perhaps all Black Sheep represents is the upswing in sophistication of these catalogue of films that embrace its inspirations with flourishes of their own. To his credit, King does have a great sense of pace in that its tight runtime never allows for lulls in the proceedings, which aims for the cheap laugh rather than a cheaper thrill. Thankfully, King knows when to play it straight and when to leaven the proceedings with a sly wink.
Admittedly, there are certain scenes that will not fail to evoke a sheepish grin but the films bombardment of over-the-top energy emanating from its running prank and lack of any pretense for satire (no lamb-pooning here!) makes it a rather one-note affair that does not quite entertain on the level it could have. It certainly mistakes its inoffensive banality with the raucous delirium thats seen in the genre classics it endears itself to. Black Sheep is admirably singular in its intentions but its virtues remain few and far between.