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Review: Frankenstein Theory

Jason McDonald 9 Comments
Review: Frankenstein TheoryFrankenstein Theory is a mixed bag of emotions for me.  On one hand, I really wanted to like it.  The premise is so ridiculous that it becomes a charming idea.  On the other hand overall the movie falls quite short from my expectations.

The movie starts off innocently enough as we’re introduced to Professor John Venkenheim who believes that he is the descendant of the man who created Frankenstein’s monster.  He also believes that the monster is real and very much alive in the wilds of Canada.  Having dedicated his life to proving this claim, John has ruined his career as a Professor.  So in a desperate attempt to salvage his reputation, he hires a documentary crew and sets out to find Frankenstein’s monster.

I know that sounds like an insane idea for a plot, but it’s also that kind of insanity that could make for a pretty damn compelling movie.  That’s what initially got me excited for this movie; I was hoping the absurdity of the whole situation would lead to some genuinely cool moments.  Sort of like Troll Hunter, but with one singular monster.

Unfortunately Frankenstein Theory comes close to being a decent movie, but a few missteps in story direction keep it from hitting that mark.  It isn’t all bad though, there are a few good things to be seen here.

The real credit to this film is that has an excellent cast.  Of particular note is Timothy V. Murphy who plays Karl, the grizzly hunter who leads the crew into the wilderness.  His character seems to be an obvious homage to Quint from Jaws in terms of mannerisms and role in the story.  He even comes with a pretty engrossing tale of man’s battle against Mother Nature which is similar to Quint’s Indianapolis story.  Timothy has a natural charisma though that keeps you engaged and waiting to hear what he has to say next.

Brian Henderson also does an excellent job of playing the stereotypical smartass of the group, who also happens to be named Brian.  His role could have easily been forgettable, but his subtle characterization gives Brian life and provides you with a reason to care about him.

And while the other actors turn in good performances, they don’t generate as much empathy as the two characters mentioned.  This isn’t a shortcoming of the actors, but an oversight in story and is one of the biggest problems in the film.  I care more about two side characters that don’t have much screen time than I do about the main protagonist. While he sets up the narrative of the film, he might as well be absent for the rest of the movie because his character just falls flat.  By the end of the movie you’ll barely remember he even exists.  This is oddly symbolic of the entire film.  It gives you something interesting to think about, but then does nothing to explore the idea further.

The story is essentially one big set-up to kill people.  They give us a reason to be out in the middle of nowhere and then provide us with an antagonist to kill people.  There’s no grand character story or plot to drive the rest of the film.  In a situation like this, the antagonist and the gore should become the star of the show, but they’re barely in the film at all.

I also have a major gripe with something this movie does that a few other films do.  If you’re going to make  a “found footage” film, make it look like found footage.  You can’t start doing a found footage project and then add production value.  Why would there be dramatic music over key scenes? Who is editing the footage to include b-roll? Any sort of production value in a found footage film immediately takes the viewer out of the experience.

The whole point of this genre is to make the viewer feel like they’re trapped in the experience with the characters; once you start playing music you place a barrier between the audience and the film.  What I suspect is that this could have easily been a regular movie, but the “found footage” aspect was used to help reduce the cost of the production.  Thanks to some “clever” camera work, you never see any of the gore or action and only get to hear screams or nothing at all.  I don’t have a problem with “found footage” as a concept, only when it’s used a crutch to help produce a movie.

Bottom Line: If I sound like I’m being overly harsh to this movie, it’s because I wanted to love it so badly and yet I felt so betrayed.  I wouldn’t recommend seeing this one.


2 / 5 stars     

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9 Comments

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      1. taker1 March 9, 2013 at 7:14 pm

        I watched this today and I have to agree with you Halloweenie. I really wanted to like it but it just didn’t get going for me. I just grew more and more bored through the film (apart from when Karl was there) and I was relieved when it was over (I kept watching hoping that it would take a turn for the better but it never came).

      2. NZ March 11, 2013 at 7:59 pm

        This was a micro budget movie into which I happen to know the filmmaker poured tons of work. You may not like it — that’s your prerogative. You’re not required to like it. And to pick it apart in a constructive way is fine, even good. But to call it “shit” is just ignorant. It suggests that you’ve never created anything in your life and then taken a chance by putting it out into the world. That happens to be a really hard and gutsy thing to do, for the record. And to talk about someone’s work that way is disrespectful to everyone — even yourself.

        • Herner Klenthur
          Herner Klenthur March 11, 2013 at 8:12 pm

          I agree NZ there is no need to call a filmmakers hard work ‘shit’. I did not read the review that way at all. I assume you are referring to the first sentence?

        • Halloweenie March 11, 2013 at 8:16 pm

          Hello NZ,

          I’m sorry if my review came off as offensive to you, but I actually didn’t call the movie shit. I simply said it shit in one of my hands. By which I meant that I really wanted to like Frankenstein Theory, but was left with a nasty aftertaste. Perhaps I could have said that in a better way and I’ll take that into consideration the next time I write a review.

          Throughout my review I actually did praise FT for it’s acting and it’s unique plot. I do believe that they had a strong idea, but failed on it’s execution. I didn’t intend to rip this movie a new one the moment I sat down to watch it, I was actually very eager to finally see it. However, I felt it just didn’t deliver in ways that I laid out in my review.

          I agree, it is no easy task to produce content and put it out for the world to see and I applaud anyone who is able too. However, at the end of the day, I can’t rate someone’s blood, sweat and tears. I don’t take joy in saying that a movie is bad, but I also can’t give them a free pass because they worked on a micro-budget and did something few are able to do. I’m sure creating this movie was a great personal achievement for all those involved and I wont take that away from them. I wish them the best of luck on their next project and really do hope they can continue to do what they love.

        • Herner Klenthur
          Herner Klenthur March 11, 2013 at 8:25 pm

          I did a small edit of the word shit for clarity since somehow that was being misread. That said if the filmmaker would like a second opinion they can email me at scoops@horror-movies.ca and I am happy to have another writer post another unbiased review just as Halloweenie did.

          No guarantees they will like it more or less but I am willing to do that.

      3. NZ March 11, 2013 at 10:25 pm

        Thank you for your quick response. I really appreciate the consideration from both of you. I’ll pass that offer on, though I’m sure this is ample. In the meantime, it’s just good to know that we can have a thoughtful exchange like this one. I do think that the review is otherwise fair, though I am big fan of the film and have (obviously) agreed with positive responses more. But nothing is for everyone. And that’s okay.

        • Herner Klenthur
          Herner Klenthur March 11, 2013 at 11:06 pm

          NZ we didnt grow to become one of the largest genre sites in the world by being narrow minded. :) Halloweenie could have possibly chosen his words better but I think his review was pretty solid.

          Flay Otters who is at SXSW is going to give the movie a look this week and give a second opinion. The fact that he is going to do this based off 1 readers comments should hopefully show in actions that we are very much by and for the fans.

          So I stand behind Halloweenie’s solid review that is HIS opinion and like I have said time and time again his tastes may not be mine or yours … but they are honest.

      4. NZ March 12, 2013 at 5:22 am

        Totally. That’s what I was saying. Nothing for everyone, but the review seemed otherwise well-written and fair. Just not my opinion.

      5. H.W. March 22, 2013 at 8:47 pm

        If the movie is bad, it surely deserves to be called bad.
        Halloweenie spoke his opinion and rightly so.
        I don’t think he should somehow be intimidated to change his mind or to push others to think a certain way, that’s weird.