Film4 Frightfest 2015 Review – Frankenstein (2015)

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Helmed by Bernard Rose, still best known for Candyman, this new take on Frankenstein explores the classic tale from the perspective of the monster rather than the scientist – recapturing what was so great about Mary Shelley’s original story, taking the themes she wrote about and giving them a very modern spin. So modern in fact that I’m positive it’s the first, and only time, we’ve been presented with a 3D-printed protagonist! It may sound crazy but the idea, given recent advances in the technology (only last week it was announced that fully working prosthetics for amputee’s can be 3D printed) is not that far-fetched.

You see, unlike previous iterations of the story, this Frankenstein’s monster, named ironcally Adam, is artificially created with a revolutionary 3D printer by married research scientists. But when his cells begin to malfunction, the pair relegate him to the scrapheap. Somehow managing to survive death, Adam faces nothing but aggression and violence from the world around him as he discovers the true nature of humanity…

A Frankenstein movie directed by Bernard Rose does not, on paper, sound like a promising prospect – especially considering the most recent of his horror efforts I’ve seen, Snuff Movie and SxTape, are so far removed from what anyone would consider a classic horror story. But then Rose has never been one to shy away from putting his spin on ANY subject. Here he brings his own brand of overt violence to proceedings, really pushing the limits of Adam’s physical endurance and the audience’s tolerance for it. But never at the expense of telling an emotionally stirring story and one that asks a lot of the audience watching.

You see Rose’s film poses questions about not only the ethics of what science is doing in that field, but what effect it could have on our own idea of self. After all, if we can replace organs with 3D-printed parts, at what point are we no longer human? Or is humanity borne from something greater?

Of course no one can ignore what has come before in regards to the cinematic mythos of Frankenstein and Rose does tip his hat to the films of James Whale, but he also makes this story very much his own – well as much as an adaptation of a book can be. Unlike previous films, which often looked at the “monster” as just that, Rose’s Frankenstein instead turns the camera on us and makes us the real monster. We fear what is different, we fear the unknown, and Adam is both.

It’s that take on this oft-told tale which makes this Frankenstein stand out among a sea of already existing adaptations of Mary Shelley’s novel. Well that and the stunning central performance from Xavier Samuel (The Loved Ones) who’s portrayal of the monster is anything but monstrous. It is at once touching and frightening, much like the film itself.

Phil Wheat

Horror, Thriller |UK,2015 | 15 |Film4 Frightfest 2015 |Dir,Bernard Rose |Xavier Samuel, Danny Huston, Carrie-Anne Moss, Tony Todd, Maya Erskine, Mckenna Grace, Carol Anne Watts, James Lew, John Lacy