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The Frankenstein Theory Movie Review

Written by Ted McCarthy

DVD released by Image Entertainment

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Directed by Andrew Weiner
Written by Vlady Pildysh and Andrew Weiner
2013, 87 minutes, Not Rated
DVD released on March 26th, 2013

Kris Lemche as Jonathan Venkenheim
Heather Stephens as Vicky Stephens
Timothy V. Murphy as Karl McCallion
Brian Henderson as Kevin

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“From the creators of The Last Exorcism comes a boldly original vision of horror,” reads the tagline for The Frankenstein Theory, another entry in the long-overworn found footage subgenre (which I had taken to calling “doc-sploitation” until a friend of mine told me the term has already been coined by someone else…I was crushed) that’s unfortunately neither bold nor particularly original.

We see the story through the lenses of a film crew hired by university professor Jonathan Venkenheim (Kris Lemche) to document his search for Frankenstein’s monster. Jonathan is convinced that not only is he the descendant of the scientist that inspired Victor Frankenstein in Mary Shelley’s gothic novel, but that the tale of the modern Prometheus was completely true, and the creature still roams the icy wastelands of the Arctic Circle. Dismissed by his colleagues as a quack, Jonathan sets off for the tundra with documentary filmmaker Vicky Stephens (Heather Stephens) and her crew to find the creature and vindicate his theory.

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While the premise is kind of eye-rolling and really feels like they’re scratching at the bottom of the barrel for new “spins” to put on the found footage film, it’s not too tough to watch on its own. It has a very slick look, and is much more polished and professional than The Blair Witch Project or Paranormal Activity, but that didn’t bother me because at least these movies have stopped trying to purport to be real found footage.

The acting is much better than a low budget movie of this type needs and usually gets, and the performers bring a lot of life to characters that, on paper, are very thin. Stephens is forgettable as the documentarian, although her cameramen (Brian Henderson and Eric Zuckerman) provide a lot of deadpan humor, especially when dealing with Karl (Timothy V. Murphy), who is the highlight of the film as the gruff wilderness guide who looks like Michael Fassbender channeling Robert Shaw in Jaws. Despite being kind of a tool, Lemche is somewhat sympathetic as Venkenheim, someone who we know is right even though no one believes him. 

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Unfortunately, there have been so many much better found footage horror films to come out, you can’t help but think that even the creepy scenes here, while intermittently effective, have just been lifted and rehashed, like the creepy noises outside the tent (The Blair Witch Project), and the running around in the dark with the camera’s green night vision on ([Rec] and Grave Encounters). And while it’s got some suspenseful moments, the film also breaks what I call the Cloverfield rule. That is, don’t show your monster. The old adage about what you can’t see always being more frightening than what you can holds so true here, and once we get the final reveal of the Frankenstein monster, it’s just a big (no pun intended) letdown, as is the abruptly lame ending and cheesy guitar ballad that plays over the end credits.

It’s got its good moments, and you could do worse than The Frankenstein Theory as an evening popcorn flick for sure. But, as I said, there are many better, scarier, and more entertaining films of this tired subgenre to seek out if you’re in the mood for one (they give you one in the tagline – go watch The Last Exorcism).

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Video, Audio and Special Features:

Video, audio and special features will not be graded as this was a screener.

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