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.