Written by: Brendan Steere
Starring: Gregory James Cohan, Alyssa Kempinski, Daniel Steere, Ethan Ward
With limited budgets and high ambitions, trying to make something that is somewhat a spectacle means some creative licenses need to be taken. They can either be attempted in earnest or simply acknowledge the deficit and make fun of it, which is the option The VelociPastor took when presenting its final product. No matter how much it pokes fun at itself, it cannot escape its terrible quality across the board.
After witnessing the death of his parents, Doug (Gregory James Cohan), a young priest, takes a retreat to China where he receives the curse of turning into a velociraptor. When he returns to the United States, he realizes he could help rid the world’s scum by eating them in his velociraptor form.
It does not take long in the runtime of this feature to figure this narrative is not taking itself too seriously. When Doug’s parents die of a car explosion and instead of having a vehicle on fire, it literally has text stating there should be a VFX car there. This film obviously knows its limitations and tries to make something entertaining from it, especially when considering its premise. It becomes evidently clear that if they could not even have a car on fire, what in the world would Doug as a velociraptor look like? If you had much hope for anything remotely good, then you would be wrong.
In all frankness, this film came across my eyes because my wife coerced me into watching it. Such a cruel practical joke on me. Part of me wants to forgive this film’s faults because it honestly wants to tell a story no one can take seriously and throw some humorous jabs in there. The film does manage to get some laughs from its absurdity, but when literally every other aspect of the feature ranges from subpar to horrendous, the inevitable cannot be avoided. Regardless, the film should be viewed as any other film and the issues stem right from the premise and how it fails to acknowledge anything remotely resonant with its themes.
Having a priest turn into a people-killing velociraptor at least makes for some interesting observations whether it be taken seriously or with tongue-in-cheek. However, this film never takes the time to reckon with any of it. Instead, the film engages with ninjas and a group of people trying to take him out because of the power of this dinosaur he has received. The comedic element of this feature runs out very quickly and runs on fumes for much of the second and third acts.
Then you have the relationship between Doug and the sex worker, Carol (Alyssa Kempinski), who witnesses the former’s first breakout as the velociraptor and sees it as an opportunity for him to continue to kill people. It continues the oddest character decisions as everyone here simply sees this evolution into a velociraptor as something controllable. The relationship between them remains borderline surface-level at best but what else can be expected from this feature?
Acting on display in this feature really hits the bottom of the barrel in terms of quality. Gregory James Cohan certainly commits to the project and the ridiculousness of what his character needs to do. However, his acting cannot be described as good simply because it all comes as overacting and overly silly. I never thought a role could possibly do that for a film with this level of intention and quality, but it certainly still found a way, unfortunately. The less said about the other actors involved, the better for the sake of this review as everyone else falls deeper down the level of mediocrity than Cohan does, which really says something.
Not much more space or mental bandwidth needs to be spent speaking on this film. Horrendous from every aspect and the only reason it does not receive the lowest grade is it does manage to land some laughs. However, everything else leaves so much to be desired even with its obvious realization of its limitations. Perhaps others can take in the scrappy nature of this film and grow a level of appreciation for it, especially filmmakers out there who are just getting started. However, on the basis of this being a feature being reviewed, it just does not measure up to even the most basic standards of proficiency, which never gets limited by budget.