HTS Moderator , Reviewer
HTS Overall Score:75
Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” is one of the literary greats in the world of literature. It has spawned literally DOZENS of iterations of the monster created by Viktor Frankenstein, from the goofy and action oriented (ala “Van Helsing”, “I, Frankenstein), to the hysterically funny (Young Frankenstein”) dark and morbidly horrifying in a dozen different ways. However, no matter the adaptation, it always remains the same. A horrifying monster, created BY a monster, struggling to find his place in the world. With the Daniel Radcliffe and James McAvoy iteration coming out next month, there are several smaller companies with their own versions of the classic tale being released on film. The first of them being Alchemy’s take on the subject. It’s not as poetic as some, or as well fleshed out and filmed as others, but it is a big uptick in quality for the eclectic studio and shows a finesse that is surprising out of all the films I’ve seen of theirs.
Instead of a medieval Frankenstein, we have a modern day retelling. It’s 2015 and Viktor Frankenstein (Danny Huston) and his wife Marie (Carrie Ann Moss) have created life for the first time in human history. Instead of a mad scientist cobbling together body parts from graves, this version of Viktor has genetically created a human body and then breathed life into it. Born a perfect specimen of a man, their first creation is named Adam (Xavier Samuel) and is one specimen of a human being. However, Adam is basically a child. Much like a newborn his mind is not fully developed so his adult body is awkwardly places with a mind that only recognizes those of the “parents” that brought him into this world. Poked and prodded with experiments, Adam slowly succumbs to cellular decay. A side effect of the experiment that created him. Disfigured and angered at his treatment, Adam escapes from the facility and wanders out into a world that is completely foreign.
Finding solace in a dog, Adam explores this newfound world, only to find that he is not ready for it, as they are not ready for him. Prone to fits of childlike rage, his physical strength makes him a deadly weapon and soon he ends up murdering a police officer due to a misunderstanding. Abused and left for dead by the vengeful police (in an awkwardly nonrealistic scene that makes little sense out of an otherwise very logical film), Adam is forced onto the street where he finds solace in another homeless man named Eddie (Tony Todd). However, even though Eddie can’t see him, Adam knows that he is not exactly able to fit in anywhere. Soon enough the circle is complete as the tortured “monster” finds his way back to the very people that created him. The ones who, while not as ugly as he is physically, show the same monstrous traits that the surrounding people view him as.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=65738[/img]“Frankenstein” isn’t as broad in score or as finely polished as many of the other iterations, but what it lacks in depth it makes up for in with a raw and visceral nature that is extremely refreshing. Told through the eyes (and narrated by) the monster himself, it takes an old subject and makes it slightly new once more. While we all know the original tale, it is usually told from a third party view or from Viktor himself. This way the story is more animalistic and feral in nature, mirroring Adam’s growth and experience in the world. Except for the narration of “future” Adam, the film plays out almost like a mime, with Adam stumbling around his new environment, trying to figure out his place. Stumbling into things, making mistakes as he is a mental child at this point, contrary to what other people see him as. Certain portions of the film replicate the common themes of the book. There is a scene after his dog friend is shot where Adam takes the animal out to bury him, but the townsfolk who just saw him exact revenge on the person who did follow him out and beat him, much like the villagers in the novel. The same goes with the ugly nature of his form, even though this time it’s a scientific mistake rather than the byproduct of being built from corpses.
Usually Alchemy releases are geared towards a niche audience, or cheap horror films that make one wince, but “Frankenstein” is much less a guilty pleasure, but an actually GOOD movie. Danny Huston and Carrie Ann Moss play their roles as Viktor and Marie Frankenstein well, especially Danny Huston who has a great ability at playing creepy and monstrous people. However, Xavier Samuel does a FANTASTIC job as his creation, Adam. He plays the mental infant that is Adam with a sort of sad, sweet, terrifying poetry in motion. There are times you pity the poor creature and want to pat him on the head, yet there are other times where you recoil in horror at his actions on screen. Such a visually beating a man to a bloody pulp in what can only be described as horrific. His performance is easily one of the best parts of the show and really what makes “Frankenstein” good in my opinion.
Rated R for bloody violence and gore, language and some sexual content
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=65746[/img]“Frankenstein’s” 1080p encode is spectacular, and nothing but pleasing to the eye from beginning to end. The film is shot 100% digitally and razor sharp, with incredible detail from the first shot of the film. As Adam is conceived and brought into the world in Viktor’s lab you can see incredible facial detail and once the picture opens up you won’t be disappointed. The colors are warm and neutral, with bright whites and incredibly rich colors. The makeup and prosthetics used to cover Adam’s body with scarring and caked on blood like nightmarishly real, and the crimson blood that is ever present on the mutilated body pulses off the screen with a deep saturation level that is unparalleled. Blacks are deep and inky, with only a few times where I noticed some washed out darks. There is some mild mild banding that I noticed in one or two spots, but barely enough for me to knock it down a half star.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=65754[/img]The 5.1 Dolby TrueHD track is nearly as impressive as its video counterpart, balancing a nice array of aggressive sounds mixed with finely nuanced quieter moments. Heavy sounds such as a train rumbling by overhead or the sounds of Viktor’s lab equipment pulse with power and throb with energy, but the track can quietly slip into the background as you hear Eddie and Adam talking in the inner city. Whispers can echo from side of the sound stage to another, shifting with solid directionality that belies the low budget. LFE is tight and punch, adding weight to the more aggressive moments, but able to fade into the background when it is not needed. Surrounds are usually pretty active with the hustle and bustle of Adam’s new found surroundings, but isn’t nearly as aggressive as the LFE levels. It’s a great sounding track that does exactly what is required of it.
“Frankenstein” is a pleasant surprise, and one that comes right on the heels of Fox’s own recreation of the classic tale. I won’t say that it is as fantastic as some of the other film adaptations, but “Frankenstein” certainly made me tip my hat to Bernard Rose and the rest of the crew as they make a horror film that seems almost arthouse at the same time. A creepy, yet sweetly endearing adaptation that really came out of nowhere considering I really wasn’t expecting much. The audio and video are fantastic, with a slight nod to the very impressive video encode, however the extras are almost nonexistent. With that in mind I have to recommend it for a good watch.
Starring: Xavier Samuel, Danny Huston, Carrie Ann Moss
Directed by: Bernard Rose
Written by: Bernard Rose
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 AVC
Audio: English: Dolby TrueHD 5.1, English DD 2.0
Runtime: 90 minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: February 23rd 2016
Buy Frankenstein On Blu-ray at Amazon
Recommendation: Recommended for a Watch
More about Mike