The VelociPastor is about a priest who turns into a Velociraptor. That’s either sounds like the most absurd and ridiculous premise for a movie or the movie you’ve been waiting all of 2019 to see. And that’s before the ninja clan shows up.
There is no middle ground. If you’re in the mood for the craziest film of the year, sign all the way up for this one.
Director/screenwriter Brendan Steere handles everything like he’s not just in on the joke, but inviting the audience to sit on his couch cracking jokes while they’re watching the movie. Everything is done for maximum levels of goofiness.
In the opening act, priest Doug Jones (Greg Cohan) watches his parents get killed in a car bomb. Instead of going for the elaborate explosion effect, Steere simply shoots the background without Doug’s parents or their car, with a VFX: Car Explosion graphic appearing. That’s the inherent check your brain kind of film we’re in store for with The VelociPastor.
Steere expanded a 2011 film school project into a feature-length film after the trailer went viral. Clearly, Steere is a direction who knows what his audience wants.
While on an excursion to clear his head, Doug runs into a woman carrying a claw that turns him into a mighty dragon warrior. And when he rages out, Doug turns into a towering, muscular green behemoth with no pants. Of course, Steere definitely wasn’t feeling going over budget.
Doug’s Velociraptor outfit looks like one of those cheap dinosaur costumes you’d find on sale the last few days before Halloween. It looks awful, but with this kind of film that is absolutely the point.
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Joining Doug is Carol (Alyssa Kempinski), a prostitute turning tricks to pay for law school. Carol suggests Doug’s abilities are a gift he can use to wipe out the scum on the streets. So basically The VelociPastor is a Punisher spoof in the same vein of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were a riff/homage on Batman and Daredevil.
Steere earnestly follows the vigilante superhero game plan even while adding some very unique elements. Some of those are easily accomplished like the soap opera style music in dramatic moments and extreme close-ups. Others are set up with more of a focus on getting laughs like a hastily designed mannequin head to serve as a dismembered adversary.
A Vietnam flashback features Doug’s mentor Father Stewart (Daniel Steere) in an awful wig and military gear that looks like the leftovers from the local Salvation Army. The cost cutting efforts are hilarious here and it’s so bad that it becomes this running joke of the ludicrous nature of one scene to the next.
That doesn’t even include the showdown with the ninjas by way of Australia, the suburbs or wherever else Steere could find guys to wear black pajamas. Steere shoots the film with a grindhouse flair with random film distortions, jumpy edits and the occasional out of sync dialogue.
Cohan fully commits to the gag with his performance. He overemphasizes the wrong words in a flat, stilted manner and moves in an exaggerated, awkward fashion. Kempinski balances Cohan out by playing her role pretty straight, which magnifies Cohan’s over the top work.
If there was anything wrong with the film it’s that Steere doesn’t go over the top enough. There’s actually a semblance of a story here that is hardly necessary when it involves a priest becoming a dinosaur! Regardless, this is one of the better 75-minutes I’ve spent watching a movie this year. The VelociPastor delivers exactly as promised with a ridiculous winking look at vigilante justice and scores of superhero cliches. Nothing to confess here: I loved every minute of it.
Rating: 9 out of 10
Photo Credit: October Coast Publicity