Claw, the latest film from director Gerald Rascionato (Triassic Hunt, Open Water 3: Cage Dive) and co-writer Joel Hogan has a bit of an identity crisis. The trailer promises a straightforward creature feature but the film’s tagline, “Do you think he-saurus? screams comedy, it’s even stolen from a joke told in Jurassic Park. The truth is, it’s an uneven mix of both.
Julia (Chynna Walker, Seven Short Films About (Our) Marriage) and Kyle (Richard Rennie, The Truth of IT) are on their way to LA where she has a showcase performance for her standup routine. However when a coyote, probably chasing a roadrunner, runs in front of them they end up stranded in the middle of nowhere with a flat tire and have to spend the night in a ghost town with it’s only inhabitant, Ray (Mel Mede, Chopper Chicks in Zombietown).
At least they think he’s the only inhabitant. A discredited scientist (Ken ’Gabby’ Mertz, Badlands of Kain) has taken up residence with his latest project, Roger the Raptor. It should come as no surprise that Roger takes advantage of cage cleaning day to make a break for freedom, and some fresh food.
Claw gets into the story quickly. Some footage of cells and a newspaper clipping about stolen DNA under the credits is all the explanation we get. And apart from a brief introduction to our scaly friend the film starts out like a backwoods slasher as the leads get stranded and end up wandering through the ghost town. I almost expected Leatherface, or Tourist Trap’s Mr. Slausen to show up. Instead they find a rather strange hermit who Julia assumes the worst about leading to some amusing Tucker and Dale vs Evil type vibes.
From there Claw turns into a monster movie as the three of them try to find a way to escape from the rampaging raptor. As low budget films go, this isn’t too bad. Yes, Roger is rendered with cheap CGI, but I’ve seen a lot worse, such as Dinosaur Hotel and several recent Chinese films such as Mega Crocodile.
Claw does move at a fast pace and Chyna Walker really gets to stand out here as the ballsy heroine who repeatedly takes the risks while Kyle needs rescuing. Her performance provides much of the film’s entertainment factor. I would have found the role reversal a bit more enjoyable if the filmmakers hadn’t felt the need to make Kyle gay. It serves no purpose in the story and gives the feeling they wanted a strong female lead but couldn’t bring themselves to make her braver than a “real” man. So they made Kyle an effeminate stereotype instead.
Ultimately though, that’s the second worst of Claw’s faults. The film ends on one of the most ridiculous notes I’ve seen in a long time. Or maybe I should say two of the most ridiculous notes as it uses a false ending to throw the same twist at us twice before before the credits roll at the sixty six minute mark. I know what you’re thinking. IMDB says Claw runs an hour and twenty one minutes. And technically it does, the last fifteen minutes however are extremely slow scrolling credits.
If Rascionato and Hogan had at least come up with a better ending, Claw might have been more than a barely passable diversion. Instead, between it and the film’s actual length it almost feels like they ran short of money and slapped a couple of scenes on the end to wrap it up. I get that the ending is supposed to be funny, but it isn’t.
I will say that Claw is better than I expected. It’s even better than the director’s other dinosaur film Triassic Hunt, The Asylum’s sequel to Triassic World which is better than either of these two films. After a limited theatrical release, Claw is available on VOD through ITN. The DVD will be available on July 6th. You can check the film’s Facebook page for more details.