The VelociPastor


Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

The Velocipastor
"Distinctly amateurish kung-fu kicks and delightful rubber-suited dinosaur antics can't quite disguise the fact that Steere is a filmmaker who knows what he's doing."

If the title doesn't make it clear to you at the outset what sort of film this is, you'll get the idea five minutes in when our hero, shy young priest Doug Jones (Greg Cohan), emerges from church to greet his parents, the camera cuts away for a moment, and then we see the words VFX - exploding car appear on the screen. The Velocipastor is as cheap and cheerful as they come - so much so that it would seem rude to give it more than one star - but it's a film that absolutely knows what it's doing at every stage, and if you approach it in the right spirit, it will show you a good time.

Nothing here is wasted. That missing explosion marks the tragic death of Doug's parents, setting up a mystery we will return to later on - but in the meantime, he must deal with his grief. "Go where you don't expect God to follow. If you find Him there, you'll know He's real," says his mentor Father Stewart (played by writer/director Brendan Steere). So he goes to China, where he encounters a dying woman who gives him a warning he can't understand, receives a strange relic and accidentally cuts himself on it. Weeks later, back home in the US, he finds himself haunted by strange dreams. It takes sex worker Carol (Alyssa Kempinski), who happens to be walking through the woods one night, to discover what's going on and confront him with the shocking truth: after dark he's turning into a velociraptor and munching on bad guys.

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It might seem that life as a dinosaur and life as a man of the cloth are mutually incompatible, but Carol doesn't see it that way. What if he were to stop simply warning people about evil and actually do something about it? she suggests. Think of all the good they could do with the aid of his sharp teeth and deadly claws! Pretty soon he's set out on a religiously-inspired killing spree, but there soon prove to be more hazards to this lifestyle than simply being late to church in the mornings. The last of an ancient line of dragon warriors, he's attracted the attention of a secret ninja cult who are using drug smuggling to engineer a twisted theological plot of their own. Doug may be the only one who can stop them - if they don't get to him first.

Distinctly amateurish kung-fu kicks and delightful rubber-suited dinosaur antics can't quite disguise the fact that Steere is a filmmaker who knows what he's doing. The deliberate damage he did to the finished film to get that grindhouse look doesn't entirely obscure its competent framing and occasional bit of visual cleverness. Chan and Kempinski, meanwhile, play it absolutely straight and put their hearts into it, making it much more watchable than the average film of this type. It's surprisingly easy to stick with for 75 minutes and it packs in a lot of laughs. Thought it may not have much hope of winning awards, if you're just looking for something to enjoy with your friends on a drunken night in, it's a great choice.

Reviewed on: 21 Jan 2020
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He's a priest, but he's also a velociraptor. Together they fight crime.

Director: Brendan Steere

Writer: Brendan Steere

Starring: Greg Cohan, Alyssa Kempinski, Daniel Steere, Fernando Pacheco De Castro, Jesse Turits

Year: 2018

Runtime: 75 minutes

Country: US, China


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