Like a lot of people within my generation, I grew up with an obsession with dinosaurs. Films like The Land Before Time, Jurassic Park and the BBC show Walking with Dinosaurs were all enthusiastically consumed, and trips to the Natural History Museum in London were frequent (and still are!). So, a horror film about a velociraptor was always going to grab my attention, regardless of what time it was shown.
Claw sees stand-up comedian Julia (Chynna Walker) and her friend Kyle (Richard Rennie) break down in the middle of the desert on their way to L.A. They’re having bad luck when they search a ghost town for help, but their luck will only get worse as they discover that one of the residents has brought a velociraptor to life. It’s deadly, it’s hungry…and it’s on the loose.
This is what happens when fans of Jurassic Park decide to do their own, low budget, version. And, while it is a fun film, it has the potential to be something more if a big budget is injected into the project.
Chynna Walker and Richard Rennie are fantastic and charming as best friends Julia and Kyle. The film carries a goofy tone, which the main characters help elevate. However, their friendship is authentic; it feels like they’ve known and supported each other for years and their chemistry onscreen is great. Their performances work and they are sympathetic characters; there is a lack of the usual stupid decisions being made, so their survival throughout the film is something that was wanted and earned. They also perform well against Mel Mede, who plays Ray, one of the residents living in the ghost town. Ray starts the film as an eccentric and strange character, who is highly suspicious and would fit a lot of slasher stereotypes. However, as the film progresses, it turns out that he’s a sympathetic character too and is actually caring and likable. Like Walker and Rennie, Mel Mede is also fantastic in his role. While he starts as a suspicious person, he still carries a charm throughout the first act.
Like previously mentioned, Claw carries a goofy tone that wouldn’t feel out of place in the original Jurassic Park at times. Not only do the characters help carry this atmosphere, but the soundtrack does too. The actual music is not anything ground-breaking or unique, but it is playful; for example, it will react to a character’s reaction or action at well-timed intervals. It does sound strange at first but, as the film progresses, it becomes comfortable with the visuals, and it somehow works.
But this is a film where the focal character should be the dinosaur (credited as ‘Roger the Raptor’!). Unfortunately, this is where Claw starts to show its flaws. The VFX work for Roger was done by CKVFX (who’ve also worked on an Among Us short film) and, while the actual Raptor design is awesome, the actual effects reflect that of the 1998 American Godzilla. It’s extremely low budget and, during the night-time sequences, the effects look passable. However, they look extremely cheap and clumsy during the latter sunset scenes which is a shame. If the film had been given a bigger budget or more time for the visual effects, Roger would’ve probably looked a lot better and been given more screen-time, instead of being reduced to shadows and growls. It’s especially a shame, since the rest of the film is enjoyable.
Claw also needed to take more time to develop the scientist (Ken ‘Gabby’ Mertz) and the development of Roger the Raptor. Mertz’ character takes two to three scenes out of the film, which establishes him feeding his new creation and him moving away from the location later in the film. The character needs to be there, but he is too mysterious for what his purpose in the film is; he isn’t even introduced by name and the other characters never learn of his existence. Unfortunately, one of the most important characters to the story rarely gets seen which was needed for exposition, even if it were just one scene of information.
Claw is a fun and goofy film but is in need of a bigger budget or more time for its visual effects. The main characters are very likable and charming from the start, and their performances are fantastic. The film also knows what tone it wants to go in and executes this well; the score, dialogue and characters all work together to give Claw its enjoyable atmosphere. It would come as no surprise if its influence was Jurassic Park, based on tone alone. However, the low budget visual effects of Roger the Raptor drag the film down a little, as well as the lack of development for a character that should be important to the story. The dinosaur design is great (and I’m sure Dr Hammond would approve!), but the actual effects are very cheap looking, especially during the brighter sequences that Roger appears in. With more time or money for the effects, Roger could’ve been shown off more, instead of appearing via shadows throughout the majority of the film. Claw has potential to be something better and a bigger-budgeted remake is something that I would not be against. I just wonder if the scientists have made any more dinosaurs for that…?