I have always been a huge fan of the original [Universal] monsters of horror — Dracula, The Mummy, The Invisible Man, The Creature From the Black Lagoon, The Wolf Man, and last, but not least, Frankenstein’s monster. Needless to say that when I heard of the new plans to have a huge monster cinematic universe all tied together a la Marvel, I was beyond excited. It may be some time before we see the beginning of those plans flesh out, however, so in the meantime, I am more than happy to welcome any other monster movies into the mix. That’s exactly where Bernard Rose’s Frankenstein comes in.
Frankenstein is, of course, a take on the novel written by Mary Shelley in 1818. In this version, Dr. Viktor Frankenstein (Danny Huston, 30 Days of Night) and his wife, Marie (Carrie-Anne Moss, The Matrix), have created life in the form of Adam (Xavier Samuel, The Loved Ones). The monster grows sick, however, as the experiment doesn’t go as planned and the cells begin to replicate incorrectly. The infant-like monster escapes from the lab and into the streets, introduced to the dregs of the outside world — angry mobs, crooked cops, and street walkers. As his speech develops and his mind grows, he begins to learn his place among everything and everyone and has to face the fact that no one will ever love such a hideous creature.
Bernard Rose’s Frankenstein is much different from most iterations we’ve seen over the past few years. While I, Frankenstein and Paul McGuigan’s Victor Frankenstein are heavily based on fantasy in an Underworld-esque fashion, Rose’s take is much more planted in reality and a modern-day setting. The principles of the original Shelley story are still intact and there are enough nods to the original Universal films to make this one feel familiar, but Rose and his team were able to make enough alterations to breathe new life into the almost 200-year-old tale.
The casting for Frankenstein is brilliant. Carrie-Anne Moss and Danny Huston were great choices for the masterminds behind the monstrous creation and the addition of horror legend, Tony Todd (Candyman, Final Destination), is the icing on the cake. In my mind, however, the show was stolen by Xavier Samuel as the monster himself, Adam. Samuel’s naturally innocent presence was perfect for the monster’s infantile stages, while his talent was able to also to help transform him into the beast he becomes by the end of the film. On top of that, his narration, written so poetically by Bernard Rose in his dual role as director and writer, further drives the story and was a perfect addition to the film’s bloody visuals.
Frankenstein is an independent film with a tiny budget, but everything still looks impressive. The make-up applied to Samuel’s face and body are hideous and mesmerizing all at the same time, while the film’s more gory moments are outstanding, as well. Rose’s film is quite touching, but it still manages to keep the spirit of a horror film very much alive. The practical blood effects, along with the few spots of CGI, were all executed perfectly and I don’t see any horror fans having any gripes with the film in this department, whatsoever.
Frankenstein is a beautiful modern-day rendition of a story we know so well. Rose does a wonderful job creating a monster, while also displaying the same thoughts and fears that every person walking this earth experiences throughout their lives. Where does the monster fit into the society around him? Will he ever find the friendship, companionship, and love that he longs for?
If you enjoy the original monsters of the horror genre as much as I do, don’t wait any longer to watch Frankenstein. It is the familiar tale of Dr. Viktor Frankenstein’s creation with a new-school twist that is both frightening and touching. Pick up a copy on DVD or Blu-ray, available now from Alchemy.
I give this one 4 dead hookers out of 5.