Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Frankenstein Theory (2013): The Blair Frank Project

Big Frankenstein fan over here. I love the classic Universal monster look the best, but I'll settle for just about any version of the story you can pass by me that doesn't seem redundant. Man plays God and makes a monster that he cannot hope to control. It's the human story from the very beginning. Give birth to a kid who will one day kill/destroy you in some fashion or another... or at least that's the fear (teenage years aside since those may actually kill you). Andrew Weiner gives us something new to toy with in The Frankenstein Theory, what if the whole Mary Shelley part of the mythology wasn't an effort to create a work of fiction but rather a work to recount history fictitiously. Sounds like it's gonna be lame right? Wrong. It's important to remember that just because a movie is shot in a popular shooting style and a story told in a familiar way, maybe not all that original but with an original underbelly, we have a chance to enjoy films if we keep an open mind. Before we get started, The Frankenstein Theory won't be for everyone, but for those of you who do check it out and enjoy it I hope you find it inspiring. Frankenstein's Monster ain't dead and this just might his year to stand tall again.

Here's the trailer to see if this wets your palette.

Shot in the ever so popular faux documentary style, The Frankenstein Theory follows the supposed descendant of the famous Dr. Frank (although under a completely different name) as he attempts to piece together research to prove that Frankenstein's monster not only existed but may still be alive and scaring up the villagers in the great white north. The whole thing plays a bit like the Blair Witch Project with a bigger budget, in color and with a wholly different baddie at the end of the game. While not as effective, shocking or visually brutal (camera shake has been kept to a minimum to protect the audience) the Frankenstein Theory works. It's a "white whale hunt" wrapped up with hints of hunting Big Foot as well. The story is simple and the back story is complete so when the gang finally makes it into the wild to hunt for big bad Frank you're ready for anything. You know you're not getting a guy with ten inch lifts and green face with bolts in his neck, but what you do get is a well hidden monster; a  monster that is barely revealed at all to great effect. This kind of subtle monster movie requires great self control which Weiner clearly has mastered. Let's ask him nicely to do some H.P. Lovecraft adaptations so he can hide the old ones and prevent them from becoming one being effects resume for some guy trying to prove he really "gets" Cthulu. 

Kris Lemche is brilliant as the great great great great? great? grandson of Heir Frankstein (Venkenhiem to you). It's his delivery displaying slight cowardice but outright maniacal obsessive desire to see the truth revealed that sets the stage for a modest romp into the frozen tundra to find le monster. Without his delivery, you wouldn't care if they find him or not... but you will care or at least I hope you will. The supporting cast surrounding Lemche is fine as well though no one near conquers the performance as well as him. 

My wife, who despises horror but managed to stay awake, intermittently watching The Frankenstein Theory, said she thought of it as The Blair Witch Project with Frankenstein (as I mentioned previously). She didn't like it, but she doesn't like anything. Like Blair Witch, The Frankenstein Theory builds tension and by the end you think you have it all figured out, but do you really? With pieces from the original, written canon combined with elements of popular Frankenstein fiction and a hint of Frankenstein Unbound as a guide, this is more than a Blair Witch rip off.  My advise would be to let your suspension of disbelief fall by the way side and enjoy it. Just a little creepy and a little funny until it becomes a little edgy and might get your ghost. 

Note: I love the resurgence of the holographic DVD cover. It is especially effective on this release.


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