Directed by: Andrew Weiner
Starring: Kris Lemche, Heather Stephens, Eric Zuckerman, Brian Henderson, Joe Egender, Roger Morrisey, Christine Lakin, Timothy V. Murphy
By David Mayne
What if the “Frankenstein” monster, a fictional classic written by the now immortalized Mary Shelley, wasn’t fiction? What if Shelley was merely retelling a stylized account of real events, and a “manufactured” human experiment were indeed real and still alive today, surviving in the snow-swept oblivion of Northern Canada? These are the questions and the premise of Weiner’s new film, The Frankenstein Theory, a “found-footage” docu/drama that seems to be equal parts Blair Witch Project and Paranormal Activity. Before you completely dismiss this film based on those two comparisons, let me just say that within this vastly overcrowded genre, The Frankenstein Theory at least comes across as one of the better attempts, never achieving greatness but also not sinking to the bottom like many other found-footage failures.
The setup to The Frankenstein Theory is standard found-footage fare, introducing us to Professor Jonathan Venkenheim (Lemche), who’s quadruple-great grandfather allegedly (according to Venkenheim) created a man in his laboratory and brought him to life, an event that would later go on to be the basis of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Venkenheim is convinced that while all of his ancestor’s work and scientific formulas are now lost, the “monster” that was created way back when is still alive and well, living far to the north in a very remote part of Northern Canada. Assembling a camera and sound crew as well as employing a rugged tour guide that knows the area that they will be traveling to, Venkenheim sets off to discover the truth behind what he thinks will be the greatest discovery of mankind.
The Frankenstein Theory, while most definitely a bastard child in a long line of genre-specific found-footage flicks that never fail to under-impress, still managed to keep my attention throughout even though the awful setup was quite laughable and the “research” used to track down the supposed “monster” was sketchier than a Uwe Boll filmmaking class. What did, however, keep me attracted to the razor-thin wire that the movie seemed to tightrope walk was the above-average performances from the cast members, especially the ominously foreboding “tour” guide, Karl, played by Timothy V. Murphy. Aside from Venkenheim’s character being a tad over-the-top intense, in the same vein as Jeffery Donovan from The Blair Witch Project 2, the rest of the cast does well enough, only falling victim to the film’s own sense of on-rails predictability. And therein lies the kicker: you know what’s going to happen right from the beginning, you just don’t really know how. This is what will fortunately (for the film) keep you watching until the credits roll.
While swimming in a sea of fledgling discovered-documentary drivel, The Frankenstein Theory seems to have brought along at least a pair of water-wings in order to stay afloat. With camera shots and plot setups taken directly from its Blair Witch forefathers and a good, healthy dose of “strange sounds at night” wannabe spookiness, this flick does indeed have grilled cheese written all over it. That said, The Frankenstein Theory does have a pretty damn original backstory going for it, and for Mary Shelley fans out there, you might want to give this one a watch just to add to your Frankenstein been-there-done-that ‘lore library.
+ Decent Frankenstein-lore story
+ Acting above par for found-footage types
– Typical setup and end-results
– Finding ONE man (who probably doesn’t want to be found) in the middle of nowhere on the first try…really?