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Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Frankenstein Theory: Footage that Can Stay Lost

The frankenstein theory“From the creators of The Last Exorcism comes The Frankenstein Theory! And when we say creators, we mean one guy who produced The Last Exorcism, not so much created it, but them is details! Just watch our damn movie already!

YOU LIKED THE LAST EXORCISM!!”

Directed by Andrew Weiner, The Frankenstein Theory injects the classic movie monster, Frankenstein, or Frankenstein’s Monster if you’re being a dick, into the found footage subgenre. The film all but completely follows the plot of numerous found footage films (Blair Witch, Troll Hunter, etc.), where a group of documentary filmmakers go to a dangerous, unpopulated area to find a mythical “creature.” In this case, the creature is the one and only Frankenstein, who according to the film’s lead character, Professor John Venkenheim (Kris Lemche), is not just a piece of fiction created by author Mary Shelley but a flesh and blood monster waiting to be discovered.  

Finding Frankenstein (which would be a great reality show title) has become Professor Venkenheim’s life’s work; an obsession that, due to his outrageous theories, has resulted in him being suspended from his university job as well as created a rift in his relationship with his wife. These roadblocks only seem to fuel Venkenheim, so naturally this leads to him and a documentary film crew going to the rim of the Arctic Circle in order to prove his theory and gain back the respect of his colleagues and family. What ensues is, as I already alluded to, a very stereotypical found footage style of traveling to a remote location in search of Frankenstein which, naturally, goes awry.

The frankenstein theory 1

The Frankenstein Theory is played off as a “documentary gone wrong (a subgenre of Girls Gone Wild),” and as is the case with most docs, it looks good, as opposed to the shaky, amateurish lensed found footage flicks recorded by non-filmmaker types. This "tactic” gives the opportunity to make a good looking film. On the other hand, however, it also lacks that feeling of authenticity that makes better found footage movies effective. The film is a little too glossy to be believable, but that isn’t quite the worst of the issues that I have with The Frankenstein Theory.  

To go along with the pedestrian narrative, The Frankenstein Theory is filled with generic, uninspired characters that we’ve become accustomed to in this subgenre. The obsessive character trying to find proof of something mythical, the snarky and skeptical film crew, the sympathetic character who wants to believe in Venkenheim, and so on and so forth. Things don’t get much better when it comes to the horror elements, either. In fact, nothing that any person would ever consider to be “scary” really happens for at least the first hour. And there’s not even much build up outside of the ‘sounds outside of a cabin’ Blair Witch tactic that, unlike Blair Witch, isn’t effective in the least. This approach could be considered a slow-burn in a better crafted film, however, the fire never even gets started in The Frankenstein Theory.     

The frankenstein theory 2

One last thing I need to touch on is the cast (all of whom are very good, actually), specifically Kris Lemche. While Lemche gives a good performance as Professor Venkenheim, having an established genre actor in a film that’s going for the found footage angle is not a great idea. Seeing Lemche in the opening seconds of a movie that’s playing itself off as real is the fastest way to take me out of the story. How many found footage films have you seen that stars actors you are very familiar with? I can’t even think of one, but I’m not really trying, either, so take that as you may.

I’m a total sucker for found footage movies, and I’ve enjoyed most that I have seen (and I have seen quite a few); however, The Frankenstein Theory is one of the weakest that I’ve come across. Regardless of the fact that the film is decently made, has some good performances and even has a great winter setting, it simply doesn’t deliver the goods as a horror film. Worse yet, it’s intensely uninteresting, and an uninteresting story piled on top of a total lack of actual horror results in a completely forgettable experience.

6 comments:

  1. I went into this completely blind, so what kept me going was not actually knowing how it would end. I was actually hoping they'd get to the end and get mauled to death by a polar bear or some such. I had fun with the premise, though and found the last 20 minutes to be a pretty satisfying payoff.

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    1. I do like the premise itself, especially since it utilizes such an iconic monster, I just wish it was executed better. I actually would have loved if they had been killed by a polar bear as that would have been a great fuck you, which I think I would appreciate!

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  2. Yep, I agree with your review completely. Well made, good cast (the lead actor is one of those guys who I think I recall seeing in something, and when I look him up I'm like "Oh, he's THAT dude!"), but was pretty disappointed with it overall, and, like you said, it doesn't deliver the goods as a horror movie. Oh well. This is Aaron by the way... I'm too lazy to switch back to my account. Oh, and you need to blog more, you sunuvabeech!

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    1. Ha, you are a man of many identities! And yeah, I do need to blog more, and I actually intend to. I have the time to do it, which was always the problem in the past, so I have no excuse other than be lazy.

      I think the reason I am able to remember Lemche is because he was in an episode of Goosebumps as well as Final Destination 3, though I always seem to forget he was in Ginger Snaps. Dude is Canadian as fuck! It's too bad the movie is as mediocre as it is, especially since it seems like there was the opportunity to make a great film as far as money and talent goes.

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  3. I checked this out last night. I think the only character I really liked was the Canadian Nanook dude. The doctor was slightly over the top for me, but certainly not enough to make me wanna punch the screen.

    With that, I liked his thesis about the history of Frankenstein. That was pretty original. But I think if it was done in a format over than found footage, and fix the problems you suggested, it may have been a solid film.

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    1. I didn't even bother talking about the hunter guy, but I did actually like him quite a bit. Though, he is pretty stereotypical as a character, which is fitting with the rest of the characters. I also found Dr. Venkenheim to be much less annoying in comparison to the archetype. As driven as he was, he still seemed to be afraid of the monster and wasn't blinded by the need to get his proof.

      Even though the film is very lackluster, I'm still glad you checked it out because it did have a lot of potential, and I totally agree that having it not be a found footage film would have given them a better opportunity for a better film. They even could have gone with a full-on faux documentary style of movie and had it pieced together, sort of like The Last Broadcast.

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