Frankenstein Theory, The (2013)
Directed by Andrew Weiner
The only thing worse than watching a bad movie is watching a bad movie that completely squanders a good premise. What if Frankenstein’s monster was real? What if Mary Shelley’s classic novel was actually based on true events? What if Frankenstein’s monster was still alive and lurking somewhere in the frozen wilds of northernmost Canada? What if the great, great, great, great, great, great grandson of the Illuminati geneticist responsible for giving life to the creature and a documentary film crew set out in search of it?
A whole lot of what if’s there. Here’s one more. What if this movie wasn’t a crushing bore?
One cannot accuse The Frankenstein Theory of not having a highly appropriate title. The film spends far more time theorizing about Frankenstein than encountering him.
See that great looking Frankenstein’s monster on the cover art? You see more of it on that artwork than you do in the movie and when it does appear on the screen you don’t even get that good a look. If that wasn’t bad enough; every single death scene takes place off-camera. A few instances we get to hear the final screams and sounds of bodies being mangled. Leaving so much up to the imagination would be fine by me if the film was scary or fun or accomplished any of this with any real imagination of its own.
Once the crew arrives in the frozen wasteland of the Great White North what follows plays out like every single generic Blair Witch-style/Bigfoot-themed found footage movie. With very minor tweaks to the script Frankenstein’s monster could have easily been replaced with the Yeti or even a rampaging polar bear and you’d have never known the difference. Despite claims that Frankenstein’s monster is cunning and intelligent - quite articulate according to the book they claim to be true, he never utters anything more than an animalistic growl and never kills anyone by any means other than brute force.
Menacing creature sounds outside the tent at night. Terrified night vision footage. The campsite that gets trashed, vehicles disabled. The novice crew left out in the cold – literally, in this case – after they lose their experienced wilderness guide. A doomed character sets out in search of rescue with the last remaining working vehicle. Uneventful discussions. Tension-less moments of panic and searching for missing people. No appearance by the monster until the waning moments. The final shot all but given away in the film’s trailer.
A movie so devoid of horror that the only real scare attempt for the first 45-minutes has the documentary crew being terrified by a large, angry, black man screaming at them as he threateningly beats on the window after they nearly run him over with their car.
The Frankenstein Theory commits just about every sin a perfunctory found footage movie can with two exceptions for which I will give the filmmaker credit. Thankfully, the camerawork doesn’t get too shaky as is usually the case with such films. In fact, the cinematography of the frozen north is both strikingly scenic and foreboding.
The dialogue amongst the survivors does not totally devolve into endless bickering as tends to happen in these films. They do keep making remarkably stupid decisions, but at least they’re not annoyingly arguing with one another on end as they do so.
The filmmakers do, however, find some new sins to commit. This found footage movie suddenly, inexplicably, breaks the rules of its own genre by playing an ominous score in certain scenes to try and ratchet up the non-existent suspense.
It’s no secret that I’m not a big fan of the found footage genre and movies like this are precisely the reason why. That’s a damn shame. The set-up held so much promise. The cast was good. A member of the film crew gets a couple of funny lines. There’s an amusing scene early on when they interview a paranoid meth head who claims to have encountered the monster. The rest, I’m afraid, was better in theory.
1 1/2 out of 5