What if the most chilling novel of all time was actually based on a true account of a horrific experiment gone awry? When he is suspended from his university job for his outlandish ideas, Professor John Venkenheim leads a documentary film crew to the rim of the Arctic Circle in a desperate effort to vindicate his academic reputation. His theory: Mary Shelley's ghastly story, "Frankenstein" is, in fact, a work of non-fiction disguised as fantasy. In the vast, frozen wilderness, Venkenheim and his team search for the legendary monster, a creature mired in mystery and drenched in blood. What they find is an unspeakable truth more terrifying than any fiction... a nightmare from which there is no waking.
Not what you might expect ...
- The Frankenstein Theory review by NP
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You rated this film: 5
I’ve always loved the story of Frankenstein. To me, the creature represents, in a way, all of us: born into a world we don’t understand, unable to shake others’ perceptions of us, isolation, loneliness. It’s a pretty bleak similarity, but it exists. So, whenever a film has had the name ‘Frankenstein’ attached to it, I’ve had to watch it. Often, it’s disappointed, because most films have no wish to touch on those subjects and use the name purely as a way of attracted interest.
The Frankenstein Theory has no wish to touch on these subjects, but once you get past that, it’s great fun.
Ever since The Blair Witch Project introduced the concept of ‘found footage’, a whole genre has been created. Over-used, yes, but such an approach is still an interesting way of telling a story.
Here we have Jonathan Venkenheim, a young professor who teams up with a small group of documentary film-makers to find the legendary Frankenstein Monster. He’s an obsessive, driven, and his sister is furious with the team he has assembled for encouraging his eccentricities. “This will not end well,” she promises.
As the film, and their journey, evolves, it’s clear that we are being made to wait before the monster is revealed, treating us instead to Venkenheim‘s theories about him. There is a genuinely enjoyable rapport growing between the travellers that is tested when things begin to go wrong as they reach the Arctic Circle, where the monster is believed to still be living following events in the original novel.
This is a light-hearted film, but it isn’t a comedy. The characters are very real, and have real interaction with each other. Once that is conveyed, you care about them in a way you wouldn’t about a series of CGI enhanced Hollywood A-listers.
I had great fun with this, once it became clear that Boris Karloff was never going to have his status threatened, even if the ending does make me sigh with the very real feeling I have been lead on somewhat.
Another found footage style horror film that follows a fictional documentary crew as they go in search of the “real” Frankenstein’s monster. The premise, that the ancestor of some historical or literary based academic (his subject preference doesn’t matter as he’s been argued out of any college or intellectual post he could find) created a monstrous and murderous killer out of body parts and corpses and it was this story that inspired Mary Shelly to write one of the greatest horror stories in the English language.
Surprisingly Frankenstein Theory doesn’t quite live up to the bar set by Shelly over a century ago.
Jonathan Venkenheim (Kris Lemche) tasks a documentary crew, headed by the rather naive but fundamentally good-hearted director Vicky (Heather Stephens) to accompany him to the vast and frozen planes of Alaska in search of the monster he claims his ancestor, Johann Venkenheim, created and abandoned 150 years ago. What follows is little more than a rehash of 1990’s Blair Witch Project where a bunch of scared by determined young people sit around campfires and discuss monsters whilst in the background creepy shadows and unexplained noises build the atmosphere.
Queue a lot of shaky hand cam and characters running and dropping the film making equipment and you have the next seventy or so minutes of the Frankenstein Theory – top it off with a handful of gory but not quite on screen deaths and that’s your lot.
Beyond the predictability of the narrative the film builds atmosphere quite well, the characters, though a little trite, are all performed well by the respective actors and I was marginally entertained from start to finish but, as the ever expanding found footage genre goes, the Frankenstein Theory will never hold the longevity of its namesake.