When I saw the promotional material for “The Frankenstein Theory,” I admit rolling my eyes and thinking the movie sounded ridiculous. I couldn’t help but have low expectations going into it with cover art exclaiming, “From the creators of ‘The Last Exorcism.'” Whenever a movie carries a bi-line like that to promote it, you can bet it’s going to be a disappointment. This indie found “footage” film is the perfect example of a concept that shouldn’t work but did.
Desperately driven to prove himself to the world, Professor John Venkenheim leads a documentary film crew to the edge of the Arctic Circle. He intends to expose to the world his inconceivable theory. He believes that Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” is a work of non-fiction disguised as fantasy and that the creature is alive and well. As they travel deeper into the desolate snow-covered plains, strange events and happenings unfold around them. Is someone or something stalking them? If so, is it human or is it the unnatural creature Venkenheim is searching for?
Writers Andrew Weiner and Vlady Pildysh found a compelling way to take some of the original ideas from Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” novel and incorporate them into a modern day suspense thriller. It’s a well-paced movie that gives viewers several opportunities to jump out of their seats and flinch at every loud sound they hear.
There is a humorous yet respectable nod to “Jaws” in “The Frankenstein Theory.” The guide for their trip out into the wilds of the Arctic Circle is obviously fashioned after Quint in Steven Spielberg’s hit film. His characteristics and the way he tells a story completely reminded me of when Roy Scheider, Richard Dreyfuss, and Robert Shaw are sitting around drinking and telling stories on the boat. I couldn’t help but smile every time he showed up on screen.
It’s brilliant how elements of Shelley’s classic novel are used in “The Frankenstein Theory.” Writers Weiner and Pildysh tie them into the film in such a way that something many might consider hokey doesn’t come off that way here.
I detest most “found footage” movies for two reasons. First, they make me sick with all their shaky camera work and bouncing around. Secondly, there’s too many of the films being made and they’re a lazy way for producers to push product out and make a quick buck. This being said, “The Frankenstein Theory” took the method and successfully ran with it. The cameraman is portrayed as “professional” and most of the footage is steadier than usual for these movies.
There are no special features included for the release of “The Frankenstein Theory.” I was disappointed that we didn’t get a “Making of” featurette which showed where they filmed the movie. It would’ve been nice to see what the monster really looked like up close as well.
“The Frankenstein Theory” doesn’t come to the “found footage” table with any new tricks up its sleeves. However, it does take all the good aspects of the filming style and fashion something fun, startling, and exciting. The atmosphere and setting of the movie gives viewers a sense of dread and isolation that, mixed with a “less-is-more” visual approach, delivers true scares.
“The Frankenstein Theory” is available now on DVD and as a Digital Download.
For more articles by Eric Shirey, check out:
Blu-ray Review: “Shadow People”
DVD Review: “Nobody Gets Out Alive”
DVD Review: “Silent Hill: Revelation”