“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 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.
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.