[31 Days Of Horror ’19] Mini Reviews: Burnt Offerings (1976) and Black Sheep (2006)

Mini Review Day 15: Burnt Offerings (1976)

Haunted house films are a main stay within the horror genre, some work and others don’t. If there isn’t the right atmosphere and story, the film can fall flat. There are some truly great haunting films, unfortunately Burnt Offerings (1976) isn’t one of them, but it does try to offer something a little different, it just doesn’t entirely work. The cast is incredible with Oliver Reed, Karen Black, Bette Davis, Burgess Meredith, Eileen Heckart and Lee Montgomer, however even they cannot save a film that is ultimately flat for most of the running time.

The Rolf family (Reed, Black, Davis and Montgomery) move into an old large mansion for the Summer, finding the rent is cheap they couldn’t resist the offer from the Allardyce (Meredith and Heckart) siblings. The only catch is that Marion (Black) must feed their mother who is a recluse away in her room. The house appears to be run down, but as the Rolf’s spend more time there things begin to start freshening up. But with the rejuvenation of the house, sinister events seem to keep happening and the family don’t know why. What is wrong with this house?

The best parts about Burnt Offerings is the mysterious beginning, the Allardyce siblings have a sense of unease about them and Burgess Meredith is fantastic. It is a shame they disappear for most of the film, because once they are gone it becomes much more dull and overly slow paced. The other actors are fine but struggling with such dull material, it is a shame because a film with a cast this grand should be much better. Things start to pick up more in the third act, and while the ending is predictable it is still a good one.

The biggest fault of the film is that it isn’t paced well and it lingers on aspects it doesn’t need too. Tighter editing would have made for a more compelling film, because the ‘twist’ while predictable is a good one and makes for a good change rather than the typical haunted house film. Burnt Offerings isn’t a bad film per se, but it does feel rather bland and it really shouldn’t. It is a mixed bag, that doesn’t quite hit the heights it wanted too.


Mini Review Day 16: Black Sheep (2006)

It has to be said that New Zealand has a very underrated film industry, there are some real gems from the country and of course they have the great Peter Jackson. The country does bring out some really interesting genre films, from those that Peter Jackson made early in his career, to the under seen The Ugly (1997), their filmmakers certainly know their craft. That brings us to Black Sheep (2006), a horror/comedy that brings to life evil killer sheep, something that probably shouldn’t work but it does.

Henry Oldfield (Nathan Meister) returns to his farm home 15 years after leaving, the farm is a sheep farm and Henry has a deep seeded phobia of sheep after his brother Angus (played as an adult by Peter Feeney) played a prank on him with a dead sheep. Not all is as it seems at the farm, there is genetic engineering happening at the farm and a pair of activists Grant (Oliver Driver) and Experience (Danielle Mason) are trying to expose it. Something goes wrong and the sheep suddenly become blood thirsty, can Henry overcome is phobia and save the day?

Black Sheep is a lot of fun, it never takes it self too seriously and it’s a clever film. It feels like a great companion piece to Braindead/Dead Alive (1992) sharing the same kind of humour and over the top antics. The characters are fun to watch, and the special effects by Weta are top notch, those sheep looked incredible and the hilarious transformation scenes are a quite a sight to watch. The performances all work for the film, particular great is Tammy Davis as Tucker who works at the farm, the comedic timing was on point and Tucker is easily one of the best characters. Particularly sinister is Peter Feeney as Angus, he certainly would have had a ball playing such a crazy character and he is fun to watch.

This is the perfect film for a fun time with friends, it has a great re-watch value and one of the gems from New Zealand horror cinema. If you haven’t seen this one, add it to the list it is well worth it.


Reviews written by Marcella Papandrea

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