The Frankenstein Theory

Wait, wait! Don’t run off! This one’s better than the average entry, even if it’s not so revolutionary to change the minds of those who despise the delivery system. It opens Friday at AMC Quail Springs Mall, 2501 W. Memorial — one of about 15 theaters nationwide to get it. The picture’s snowy setting is reason enough to justify a big-screen viewing.

From the creators of The Last Exorcism, the movie depicts seven days in November 2012, when a documentary crew headed by Vicky (Heather Stephens, Lost Highway) follows suspended professor Jonathan Venkenheim (Kris Lemche, Final Destination 3) to the rim of the Arctic Circle in Canada in order to salvage his reputation.

Venkenheim’s controversial theory is that Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein novel of 1818 was not really a novel at all, but a work of nonfiction disguised as fiction. Says the disgraced prof, “He exists. And he’s alive … now. And I think I can find him.” He’s even mapped a “migratory pattern” of murder spikes as the creature moves along wintry terrain.

His girlfriend (Christine Lakin, Parental Guidance) strongly disagrees, predicting, “This is not going to end well.” Well, for them, no; for the viewer, yes. It’s not a spoiler to say Venkenheim’s hypothesis is proven correct.

Director Andrew Weiner’s debut is not “boldly original” as the advertising claims. It’s not original at all, bearing strong echoes of The Blair Witch Project and following the standard operating procedure that the found-footage subgenre requires. At the same time, it does have a lot more going on than other faux-doc films, both visually and narratively.

With some beautiful icy cinematography, it’s clearly more cinematic; even better, praise God, this is no nausea-provoking exercise in shaky cam. The music is great (since some of it is Mozart, how could it not?) and the performances are more natural. Lemche gives the most “out there” portrayal, but that’s the nature of the semi-unhinged role; Stephens grounds him in balance.

And as for the modern prometheus? He’s big, burly and brutish, as an upright creature designed to elicit terror should be. Whether he will depends on how many of these things you’ve seen; jaded horror viewers like me should simply expect to appreciate an entertaining concept that’s well-made instead of just shat out.   —Rod Lott

Hey! Read This:
The Last Exorcism Blu-ray review  

Rod Lott

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