The Invisible Raptor

The Invisible Raptor (2023)

The Invisible Raptor had its UK première at the Glasgow FrightFest 2024.

Some films come with their uniquely recombinative premise front-loaded, and commit fully to their bit. Snakes on a Plane, Shark Exorcist or Cocaine Bear – these are pretty much what they say on the tin, and deliver exactly what their titles promise. They might be good, bad or middling, but no one could accuse them of false advertising. Mike Hermosa’s The Invisible Raptor certainly falls into this category. For it is indeed about a genetically resurrected prehistoric apex predator which cannot be seen – although what the title does not reveal is that it, or more precisely he, also can reason, even read, and is horny as all hell. 

After this unseen antagonist escapes from the military facility where he has been developed as a bizarre biological weapon, he is all absence and negative space, figured within the film almost entirely by the noises of his movement, the impressions he makes on his environment, and the trail of blood, bodies and shit (strangely not invisible) that he leaves behind. His invisibility is an ingenious way for a relatively low-budget film to economise on creature effects – but it also allows Hermosa to focus more on the human characters, and their schlubbily comic interactions with a menace whose presence they are often left to conjure only through their own reactive performances.

The protagonist here is Dr Grant Walker (Mike Capes, who also co-write the film with Johnny Wickham), a former field palaeontologist now reduced to dumbed-down presentational work at the DinoWorld theme park. Quick to realise that there is a raptor on the loose – but slower to grasp that it is also invisible – Grant joins forces with his friendless, brainless colleague Deniel Denielson (David Shackelford) to track down the creature. In this seemingly impossible task, Grant is also helped by his ex Amber (Caitlin McHugh) and conspiracy-minded chicken farmer Henrietta McCluskey (Sandy Martin), while the cantankerous Sheriff Grimley (Richard Riehle) and his EDM-loving Deputy (David Theune) prove to be no help at all.

The very name of the setting – ‘Spielburgh County’ – openly acknowledges the inevitable influence of Jurassic Park (1993), although The Invisible Raptor also contains homages to other Steven Spielberg titles, often explicitly namechecked, including E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (1982), Jaws (1975) and, in a mid-credits coda, Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977). Other, non-Spielbergian intertexts include, predictably, Hollow Man (2000) and The Invisible Man (2020), and, rather less predictably, Predator (1987), Weekend at Bernie’s (1989), Gremlins (1984) and Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985) – and of course, no Spielberg film features this amount of excrement, urine, cum and micropenis, not to mention the bloody slaying of kids, cats, dogs, the disabled and sweet old ladies, or lines like “I don’t ever want to hear you talking about my butthole again”. 

In its hungry quest for a companion, this rampaging dinosaur reflects all these characters with their parallel neediness to stave off solitude and failure through friendship and love. The Invisible Raptor also fully embraces its own absurdity, and is constantly funny about all manner of things that have little to do with the fugitive creature, and everything to do with humanity in all its flaws and foibles. 

strap: Mike Hermosa’s comic creature feature sends its lonely, flawed characters hunting a dinosaur – and what is missing from their lives

© Anton Bitel