Sheeps Clothing Poster

Sheeps Clothing (2024) Review

Sheeps Clothing, that’s not a typo it’s how it’s written in the credits and on the poster, is a new religious themed thriller from writer/director Kyle McConaghy, his first solo feature after collaborating on a pair of thrillers, BAB and Dead Mail with Joe DeBoer. 

It opens with a high school principal Mansa Harper (Aaron Phifer, After the Reign, Two Wolves) conducting a meeting with a coach (Matthew Bushell, Twilight, Dark Reel) who has been accused of inappropriate contact with a student. When Harper refuses to just make the investigation go away, the coach attacks him with a baseball bat as he walks to his car and leaves him for dead. Harper survives, but with a serious brain injury. He’s recovering and finds work with Core Fellowship, a new church in town, helping the Pastor (Nick Heyman, Joshua Tree, 1951: A Portrait of James Dean, Ambush) create the church’s videos. It gives him a sense of purpose and helps bring him peace.

Sheeps Clothing 2

But that peace is about to be shattered when a disagreement over donations leaves Terry (Sean Heyman, The Lost Platoon, Night Surf), one of the congregation dead and Harper is pressured into helping to cover up the death. In the aftermath, he is left to try and reconcile what he did with his faith while also trying to save the church itself.

Kyle, while also reflecting the motives of his own advocacy, also wanted to address the lack of substantive action in the white church he grew up in. He was seeing how the white churches he was familiar with were remaining silent on social Justice issues the past 5 years or so.

Aaron Phifer, co-writer and star of Sheeps Clothing

Sheeps Clothing was very much a group effort, McConaghy co-wrote the script with Phifer from an idea they and Nick Heyman had come up with during the COVID lockdown. They examine issues of both faith and race in the framework of a thriller centred on a death that may or may not have been intentional. Did the Pastor overreact while trying to protect Mansa from someone we know could easily become violent? Or did he use it as an excuse to kill him?

Sheeps Clothing 1

It’s as the two desperately try to hide the body and deal with texts from Terry’s wife Lori (Erin LeShawn Wiley, Night Games, Reform School Girl) it becomes clear that things aren’t what they seem. And rather than being a valued employee and friend, Mansa may merely be a prop to be used and discarded. As that story unfolds, Sheeps Clothing works fairly well as a critique of, if not, religion in general, then of many of those holding power within communities of faith. It’s obvious why Pastor keeps delivering sermons about God using flawed leaders to do His work.

It doesn’t work as well as a film about race, however. That’s mostly because I was never convinced that Pastor wouldn’t have treated a white man the same if it was to his advantage to do so., something that a not unexpected revelation in the final act tends to confirm.

Sheeps Clothing 3

I do wish the script had given a bit more attention to the film’s few supporting characters. For most of its running time, Sheeps Clothing is a two character film, and we really don’t get much of a feel about Pastor’s church and the environment that the story is set in. I also wish they’d given Pastor a name. Seeing him refer to himself as Pastor in a text just looks silly.

Some viewers may add the film’s grainy look to the list of flaws. But while it was probably unintentional, I thought it enhanced the film, giving it the look of a shot on 16mm indie social drama from the 60s or 70s. Which, in many ways, it’s an update version of.

Overall, this is a film has a lot to say about faith and about self, about making some very hard choices as Mansa finds himself in a situation that is spiralling out of control and must decide how far he’ll go to survive. Sheeps Clothing is available on Digital Channels via Cranked Up Films.

YouTube video
Our Score

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top