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May 12, 2013

Movie Review: The Frankenstein Theory (2013)

Something horror films seem to be missing lately is the slow burn. Sometimes we see brutality within the first minute. That's okay, but not when it happens in every horror movie. It's nice to see a calculated build of intensity in a movie, and The Frankenstein Theory does a great job with that. It doesn't hit you in the face with anything. It lets the story and characters breathe in a fairly realistic scenario.

We start with a documentary crew on Jonathan Venkenhein (Kris Lemche), a college professor with an interesting theory. I know what you're thinking. Yes, it's another found footage movie, but give it a chance. I haven't been impressed with many in this genre either, but this fits perfectly in the vein of Troll Hunter. Anyway, Venkenhein theorizes that the letters in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein are actual letters that were used as the base for her fictitious novel. In other words, the Frankenstein monster is real, and was created in part by one of Venkenhein's ancestors. His intent is to take a documentary crew to Canada to capture the creature on film.

The doc crew is small. It includes a producer, cameraman, sound man and a woman who serves as an on screen host of sorts. It turns out that she has known Jonathan since college. There is never any inkling of a romantic connection, which is nice. Movies never seem to allow men and women to be just friends. While there is skepticism within the crew, who only learns of Jonathan's theory on the first day of shooting, they go along for the paycheck.

In Canada, they meet with a guide named Karl, who is brilliantly played by Timothy V. Murphy. He's a no nonsense guy with a gruff exterior, and he really likes to talk about how deadly polar bears are. As their camp to find the monster goes on, things start happening, and the terror steadily builds.

My take on it is simple. This is a very realistic concept. If you consider the fact that a television show about hunting for Sasquatch exists, The Frankenstein Theory is on the right track. Seriously, switch Bigfoot and the monster, and it's the same idea. People have been hunting down legends forever. From Loch Ness to Chupacabra to the jackelope, people have chased mythical creatures for a chance at fame or scientific study longer than we can track. Taking real life and skewing it just a hair makes it easy to be inside the cabin while a terrified crew hypothesizes where the noises they hear are coming from.

I really enjoyed The Frankenstein Theory. It was well acted and well made. Kris Lemche was a perfect fit as Jonathan. Not only was I convinced that he believed his own brilliance, but he looked just eccentric enough to let you know he wasn't all there. Just the simple touches of how he dressed and wore his hair made all the difference. Watch this movie, and soak it in. Put yourself on the journey. It's well worth it.

When you're done with that, head over to Abnormal Entertainment and check out our fellow Abnormal podcast The Gorram Nerd Hour. Jacob O'Neal interviewed writer/director Andrew Weiner about his experience on The Frankenstein Theory in the episode titled Volume 2 Issue 8, which can be heard here.

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