Friday, December 27, 2013

Horror Film Review

The Frankenstein Theory (2013):  I have a theory.  If the makers of The Last Exorcism were to put together a mockumentary about Frankenstein's monster, it would be just about as good.  Which is to say it would suck balls.  I'm sure you'll be shocked to learn that my theory has now officially been confirmed. 

Obsessed and ostracized professor Jonathan Venkenhein (Kris Lemche) hires a documentary film crew to accompany him to extreme northern Canada to prove his theory that Mary Shelley's horror classic was in fact rooted in reality.  Venkenheim's ancestor was the not-so-mad scientist who through a rudimentary grasp of genetics created a super-strong, long-lived creature that escaped Europe over the North Pole.  To restore his reputation and satisfy a rather unhealthy curiosity, the prof sacrifices not only his money but his hot, British girlfriend as well. 

Once in the wilds of Canada's Northwest Territory, their flinty guide Karl (Timothy V. Murphy) leads them to a yurt even deeper into Middle of Nowhere's zip code.  The doc crew, by the way, consists of reporter Vicky (Heather Stephens), sound and camera guys Eric (Eric Zuckerman), Kevin (Brian Henderson), and Luke (uncredited but I think Luke Geissbuhler).  They awaken to discover one snowmobile destroyed and another missing.  Karl, armed and quite annoyed, leaves on foot to hunt down the culprit.  Much later, the search party of Kevin and Eric find Karl's broken gun and then Karl's broken corpse.  Luke goes for help, doesn't return, and is also found dead.  Then it's Eric and Kevin's turn.  In the end, it's the prof and Vicky against what of course is the theoretical creature.  The prof tries to reason with it.  That doesn't go well.  Vicky screams a lot.  That doesn't go well either. 

A yurt is a small makeshift cabin.  I knew you were wondering.  Anyway, like The Last Exorcism, this film is ridiculous, unscary, and so lacking in common sense you'll find it difficult to suppress the urge to shout obscenities at the screen.  First and foremost:  they didn't think to bring a satellite phone?  A million miles of anyplace, hunting for a murderous chance at all that there might be an emergency.  Also, one gun?  One small rifle?  Not even a flare gun?  And then there's the creature itself.  We only see quick flashes of it.  What we do see looks like Bigfoot, not a cobbled collection of human body parts.  We hear it, though.  It growls like a Spielberg dinosaur.  Sure.  Why not?  Makes as much sense as anything else.  Finally, they don't even try to explain how the "documentary" footage was found or what happened afterwards.  It would go like this:  a search party made up of cops, rangers, and probably military personnel would swoop in.  They'd find the cameras and watch the footage.  Then nothing on earth would stop them from tracking down the creature and killing it.  The military would take the body for tests, confiscate the video footage, and cover it all up.  (You're nodding your head, aren't you?)

I won't bother expounding on how silly the film's premise is.  The idea for Frankenstein came to Mary Shelley in a dream after a night of exchanging ghost stories with Percy Shelley and Lord Byron.  That's it.  It wouldn't irritate me so much if this had been a straight up horror flick, but the filmmakers opted for the mockumentary style.  By doing so, they have a responsibility to at least attempt to make the backstory believable.  Then I remember The Last Exorcism and realize I'm being silly for thinking they'd give a crap.

One last thing.  Remember the scene in JAWS where Quint's telling the story of the U.S.S. Indianapolis?  Well, The Frankenstein Theory folks shamelessly rip it off.  Instead of Quint, it's Karl.  Instead of a Navy ship, it's a light airplane.  Instead of sharks, it's a polar bear.  Instead of being riveting and chilling, it's contrived and lame.  Shocking, I know.

The Skinny

Acting:  A pensive and angst-ridden Lemche doesn't do his character any favors.  Stephens as Vicky does better but her sudden transformation into a gibbering idiot towards the end is more than a little jarring.  And Murphy thinks he's Clint Eastwood.  He's really not.
Story:  Sensationalist twaddle.
Direction:  Not much that I could find.
Production Values:  Handheld cameras in the wilderness don't exactly elicit gasps of wonderment and awe. 
Gore/FX:  We are shown dribbles of blood in the snow, nothing more.  Over-the-top gore might have saved this picture.  No CGI.
Scares:  One or two minor jumps.  You know...the handheld in night vision mode pans and suddenly there's the monster.
Ending:  With Vicky slung over its shoulder, the monster walks away from the yurt and back into the wild.  In other words, cataclysmically dumb. 
Verdict:  Should you see The Frankenstein Theory?  If you adored The Last Exorcism, then I suppose you may find something to like here because, unfortunately, lightning can and did strike twice.

Rating:  1 out of 5

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