The Horror Honeys: ‘Frankenstein Theory’ Needs a Stronger Thesis

‘Frankenstein Theory’ Needs a Stronger Thesis


A Not-So-Classic Film Review with Monster Honey Sarah

The Frankenstein Theory (2013)

All photos courtesy of whoever distributed this film but won't admit to it online
In 1816, a young woman staying by Lake Geneva put pen to paper and created a work of fiction like no other. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is considered by many to be the beginning of modern science-fiction and is unique for being the first non-religious creation story.

But what if it was all real?

That is the premise, the THEORY if you will, that has filmmaker Vickey (Heather Stephens) and her crew following Professor Jonathan Fronkensteen (Kris Lemche), or maybe it’s actually Venkenhein, in Andrew Weiner's The Frankenstein Theory. According to Jonathan, the novel was based on real events committed by his ancestors and the monster was the result of Illuminati-related longevity experiments. Coincidentally, the monster is now living in isolation in the Canadian wilderness. Because that makes perfect sense.

But where in the world is Carmen San Diego?
This is a brief and easy watch, but also an unremarkable one. There’s not much about it that makes it stand out from any other found footage film either, except perhaps the Alaskan scenery standing in for the Canadian wild. Also, can we all agree that having Annoying Jumpscare Noise in found footage movies is cheating? Or any kind of score really? Jump scares with things popping suddenly into frame is a given with found footage, but adding a score and sound effects just means that you don’t trust the movie to do its job in scaring the audience.

And he seemed like such a nice and stable meth addict.
Usually in found footage films, the filmmaker is annoyingly insistent on “finding out the truth” with a kind of intense approach to documentary filmmaking that would make Werner Hertzog go “maybe you need to chill, dude.” Here, instead of Vickey, it is subject Jonathan who possesses the kind of obsessive Captain Ahab motivation. Lemche, who some of you might recognize as Sam from the movie Ginger Snaps, does a decent job, but he might have a bit more credibility if he didn't look the same age as the kids from Riverdale. The rest of the characters are perfectly fine, but there’s also nothing to them. We know nothing about them and don’t really have much of an incentive to not want them to die. It was a third of the way through the film before I even realized there was another character; Luke, the slightly nonverbal cameraman. The only person other than Jonathan who has anything resembling a personality is Karl, the belligerent guide.

Hi, I'm Frankenstein. Welcome to my crib. Now leave before I kill you.
There’s also no explanation given about how exactly Mary Shelley knew about this secret experiment and decided to base a novel on it; it’s just mentioned offhand that the novel is based on real events and left at that. Personally, I’m just going to assume it’s some kind of elaborate conspiracy involving Lord Byron, because when crazy things happened in the literary world in the 1800s, it was usually Lord Byron’s fault in some way. Actually, that would be a lot more fun to watch than this film.

The whole of Frankenstein Theory is building to the monster himself, of course, and like most of the film, he’s fine but nothing all that remarkable. The look is a more natural and feral one, no Boris Karloff bolts in sight. You would think that this is all going to lead to an actual conversation with him, like some kind of Interview with the Frankenstein, but alas, no. What makes Frankenstein’s Monster interesting is that he has a distinct humanity despite his appearance. In the original novel he is articulate, philosophical, capable of learning, and reasoning. Even when film versions don’t quite have that degree of nuance, there is still an inherent tragedy and pathos to him. Here, he is little more than a roaring caveman, even dragging away Vickey presumably to be his mate or companion of some kind. Really it’s no different than if the film was about hunting Bigfoot. Overall, it’s disappointing when there is so much potentially interesting material to work with.

Gotta have night vision in found footage.
The Frankenstein Theory isn’t a badly made film; it isn’t even a boring film. If you’ve got a monster craving and want something quick, it’s decent. However, there’s nothing original or remarkable about it and you’ll probably forget it not long afterwards.

Monster Honey verdict: 3 snowmobiles out of 5

The Frankenstein Theory is available via ShudderAmazon Instant Video, iTunes, Vudu, YouTube VOD, Google Play, & DVD