Project DeadPost

The Frankenstein Theory (2013)

It is a cold day in hell…!

Directed by Andrew Weiner

Reviewed by Deep Red

Found-footage film that I’ve been looking forward to seeing, obviously because it’s found-footage and “Frankenstein” in the same film. I like the way found-footage films sometimes reinvent horror themes, for example, Cloverfield [2008] does the monster film, The Last Exorcism [2010] puts the exorcism film in found-footage style, as does The Devil Inside [2012], Diary of the Dead [2007] and V/H/S 2 [2013] (segment “A Ride in the Park”) both did zombies and recently Devil’s Due [2014] did the Rosemary’s Baby [1968]/The Omen [1976] kind of story. It’s cool. I certainly prefer this rawer style to something like I, Frankenstein [2014] which just turns the root idea into some CGI adventure thing that seems quite happy to have escaped its horror shackles/abandoned its horror roots for the sake of trying to be the next big family blockbuster, usually unsuccessfully, rightly unsuccessfully, and just ends up being this pointless cartoon/video game-looking hollowed-out travesty that no one can connect with.

However, any film dealing with the Frankenstein mythos, for me, has to contend with the Hammer Frankenstein films for one, very big fan of those, as well as Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein directed by and starring Kenneth Branagh, also starring Robert De Niro as The Creature. They’re “normal” films, Branagh’s film is a true horror blockbuster if ever there was one, but they’re great films, truly great horror films.

Not all found-footage films are great so the main question I had before I watched it was; is it going to be some profound fuck-up like The Amityville Haunting [2011] or up there with the best of ’em like, for example, Apartment 143 [2011]? I really rate the latter, surprises me when I read indifferent comments about it. I also felt a found-footage Frankenstein tale needed to respect what has gone before it to some degree.

So, The Frankenstein Theory itself….

Professor Jonathan Venkenheim played by Kris Lemche claims that Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein is a fictionalisation of the work of his ancestor, called Johann Venkenheim. A claim that has led to his suspension from the university. His girlfriend Anne (Christine Lakin) doesn’t think much of his claims either but the film crew interviewing him led by Vicky Stephens (Heather Stephens), although they kind of share Anne’s theory that it’s bullshit, set off to the Arctic, via Canada, with Jonathan anyway in search of his claim, after all he’s funding the expedition; and who wouldn’t? I don’t want to say too much about the story. I think that’s probably enough.

This is great stuff. Typical found-footage film, in a good way, the snowy locations are nicely shot, very cool locations, and the cast is a good one. The dialogue is fast-paced and interesting, and pretty witty in places, capturing the excitement of the expedition as it really needed to; job done. The expedition guide Karl McCallion (Timothy V. Murphy) is very reminiscent of Quint (Robert Shaw) from Jaws [1975]. Certainly not a profound fuck-up like The Amityville Haunting [2011], so it’s up there with the best, cool. Sorry, I’m a huge Amityville film series fan but The Amityville Haunting was weak.

So, is it a decent Frankenstein tale? Yeah it is. It does OK by the subject matter really. I liked it. I liked it more than I thought I would. It manages a decent atmosphere throughout that serves its central idea well. Where does it all end up? Can’t say, spoilers. Watch it, you might like it, you might be disappointed. I liked it personally but everyone’s different.

Also stars Joe Egender as Clarence Malusky, Eric Zuckerman as Eric, Brian Henderson as Kevin and Leland White as Angry Man.

 

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