Movie Review: The Frankenstein Theory
Part found footage, part documentary and part Paranormal Activity meets Blair Witch, ‘The Frankenstein Theory’ uses the monster story as the backdrop for an expedition into terror.
Based on the assumption that the classic Mary Shelley novel was really a work of non-fiction, John Venkenheim (Kris Lemche); a descendant of the scientist involved in the original project and now a disgraced and desperate intellectual, funds a quest to the Arctic Circle in an attempt to locate the long lost creature.
Together with a documentary film crew (Heather Stephens, Brian Henderson and Eric Zuckerman), the team meets with a French-Guide (Timothy V. Murphy) who takes them deep into the arctic wilderness where below freezing temperatures, night vision cameras and malevolent cries in the night are just the beginning of the horror that’s in store for them.
Although the notion of the Frankenstein novel being a work of non-fiction may seem a bit far-fetched, by the time the real expedition begins, you as a viewer have already become so caught up in the characters that not only does the idea suddenly sound plausible, but any doubt you have about the creature’s existence is quickly forgotten in your own quest to learn the truth.
Writer and director Andrew Weiner has spent a tremendous amount of time researching the subject and the results show. “If we’re going to operate under the assumption that this event actually happened” Weiner says, “then the question becomes, how could it have happened? I spent a lot of time studying both the novel and Mary Shelley as well as researching 18th and 19th century medical books. Much of what you see in this film (in terms of the research I introduce) is real.”
The characters within the film are believable. From the obsessed and oftentimes whiny Venkenheim to the comedic antics of the film crew on their journey to the North Pole, there’s enough humor mixed in with the horror to keep the story interesting and moving.
Frankenstein purists who might see this film as “blasphemous” should keep in mind that even Shelley herself rewrote several parts of the original story in subsequent editions and often referred to it as the progeny she gave to the world. But “The Frankenstein Theory” is not a remake; it merely uses the classic novel as the backbone of the story.
Horror films are designed to be scary, but aren’t very interesting if that’s all they have to offer. Where ‘The Frankenstein Theory’ really succeeds is by taking the idea of a mundane existence and posing the question, “What if?” By the time you realize the truth, you’re so heavily invested that the answer no longer really matters.
There’s a lot of nuance and details about movies that can easily be missed, and if you’re an observant watcher of ‘The Frankenstein Theory’, there are a few little gems hidden within that can be found with subsequent viewings. It’s something I highly suggest you do.