Black Sheep and Severance Blu-ray Review - -

Black Sheep
Video 8.0
Audio 8.0
Total 7.6
Distributor: Icon Films
Classification: MA15+
Jamie Kirk


Black Sheep and Severance

We have a double bill of horror comedies today, and in glorious Blu Ray to make it that much sweeter. The two films come from opposite sides of the globe, one from England, and the other from New Zealand. One concerns a bunch of dry office workers and the other one concerns sheep. Guess which comes from where. Poor jokes aside both movies share humorous sensibilities and loads of the red stuff. However there are also plenty of differences so letís move on to the films.

Black Sheep, is a film made in New Zealand (Did you guess?) about two brothers that live on a farm. The younger of the two, Henry (Nathan Meister) suffers a crippling fear of sheep, due to his father dying the same day his older brother Angus (Peter Feeney) plays a disgusting practical joke involving the mutilated corpse of his pet sheep. Many years later Henry returns to the farm to sell his half to Angus, and discovers that Angus has been doing experiments on the sheep, transforming them into vicious carnivores. Things take a turn for the worse when two environmental activists break in and steal a lamb foetus, which gets out and starts infecting all the sheep and humans with its virus. Henry teams up with one of the activists (Danielle Mason) and a farmhand (Tammy Davis) to bring down his brother and get off the farm.

The film takes an absolutely ludicrous premise, and then plays it as a straight horror film. This is sometimes amusing, watching sheep imitate The Shiningís ďHereís JohnnyĒ moment is hilarious. The problem is that itís not scary. Sheep as killers are slow and stupid, like zombies except not nearly as menacing. There are a few good death scenes and a lot of gore, but the film is never particularly suspenseful, because well, theyíre sheep.

That being said the film itself is shot beautifully, making great use of the lush New Zealand landscape. The models of the sheep are also well done, although the half human sheep hybrids look ridiculous, but are probably supposed to. The performances are also decent. Meister manages to convey fear in a silly situation, and Davisí comic relief part provides a few laughs.

The big problem with Black Sheep however is that itís one joke premise doesnít carry the whole film. The comic aspect isnít as prevalent as you would expect, although they do have to make one mention of human sheep relations. This means the film is often less than amusing, as it is too busy playing it as a horror film. The film will bear inevitable comparisons to Shaun of the Dead. But whereas that took a classic premise and made clever jokes and observations, this takes a rather less credible premise, and makes a couple of sheep jokes. Itís not a terrible film, just not comparable to the best of the genre. Black Sheep does bear special mention for being possibly the only film to have a homicidal sheep driving a Ute off a cliff, and for that it is worth a look.

Severance takes a slightly different approach to Black Sheep. This one features a straight up horror premise, psychoís in woods kill everybody one by one. Then throughout the plot they pepper the thing with jokes. The plot concerns a gang of workers for Palisade, and arms manufacturer, going on a team building retreat to a lodge somewhere in Hungary. When their bus driver refuses to take them further, the gang decide to walk through the woods to their lodge, despite the protests from most of the team. Upon arriving at the lodge, they find itís not what they were hoping. Run down, and containing no sign of their boss, the team decides to stay there and make the best of a bad situation. Thatís when things get weird, and soon the team find themselves being stalked by a band of well armed and sick minded militiamen.

The films humour comes mostly from the teams reactions to each other. All the workplace templates are there. There is the idiot boss who doesnít realise everyone hates him, the suck up to the boss, the guy who is exasperated by both the former, the love interest and the guy who just doesnít care and wants to get high. Itís almost like transporting The Office into a slasher flick. The dialogue between the crew is solid, and very humorous.

The laughs continue a long way into the film before it changes into horror mode and once it does it really goes for it. Over the top violence, loud music stings, and every other element of your modern slasher. It is quite tense but itís nothing that hasnít been done before. What lifts it is the elements of humour, which sadly are mostly thrown by the wayside during the carnage. However the film does have a very funny ending and many scenes which are laugh out loud funny. Severance is a film definitely worth checking out as it injects some much needed laughs into the tired psychoís in the woods kill people violently genre.

Neither film comes with special features, and both have a nice Blu Ray polish to the audio and visuals.

Double features where both films are watchable are always a treat. Out of the two Severance is the more entertaining, yet Black Sheep is worth checking out just for the visuals and some of the rather odd sheep images. Either way for horror fans this set is worth checking out, just to see something a little different from all the horror movies at the cinemas these days. 


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