With a tagline proclaiming "The Violence of the Lambs", and a plot centred on sheep who have been turned into flesh-eating killing machines, Kiwi director Jonathan King's debut is cinema which requires little brain power.

Set in New Zealand, a country which boasts more sheep than humans, 'Black Sheep' is a gore heavy horror-comedy that is neither scary nor funny. Henry Oldfield (Meister) has returned home to the family farm he left years earlier following the death of his father. The return is a traumatic one, not just because he has developed a stress-induced phobia of sheep, but because of the antics of his evil older brother, Angus (Feeney).

Left in charge of the farm, Angus has adopted a programme of genetic engineering to create a new, better sheep he hopes will make him millions. On the cusp of unveiling the 'Oldfield Sheep', two animal rights activists intervene and accidentally release one of the discarded samples, thus triggering an hour-and-a-half of rampaging, bloodthirsty mayhem.

Unapologetically silly, there is of course humour to be found in watching a sheep - a stupid and docile animal - become a lethal killing machine. However, the joke rapidly wears thin and 'Black Sheep's problem lies in the fact that it has nothing else up its sleeve.

Hammy dialogue and poor central performances are compounded by poorly written characters, all of whom are lumbered with the usual stereotypical back stories. Angus is the calm, evil psychopath; Henry is the hapless hero and Experience (Mason) is the new-age, vegetarian, hippie activist.

Given the material, it's possible King intended to mirror trashy B-movies and thus injected as much predictable dialogue and droll one-liners as possible. The intention may have been to make a movie that would be so-bad that it's good, yet there's little to like about 'Black Sheep'.

Just as the comic side to this 'horror-comedy' hangs on one element, so too is the horror quota fulfilled solely by lashings of blood and gore. This serves only to horrify and repulse rather than to shock or scare.

Overall 'Black Sheep' is as awful as it sounds. Avoid.

Steve Cummins