“Frankenstein” was released on DVD and Blu-ray two days ago by Alchemy.
In an updated reworking of Mary Shelley’s classic horror tale, “Frankenstein” is set in the present day as scientists Viktor Frankenstein (Danny Huston) and his wife, Marie (Carrie-Anne Moss), artificially create a promising specimen known as Adam (Xavier Samuel). Adam is practically flawless other than the fact that he has the mind of a toddler. His incredible strength, high tolerance for pain, and ability to withstand high doses of whatever medication is injected into his system only make his extraordinary existence even more astonishing. Unfortunately his skin begins to deteriorate and decay in the form of growths that appear to be cancerous and lesions that never heal. He is seen as a failure and disposed of by who he views as his parents.
Instead of welcoming death, Adam escapes. He is introduced to what humanity has to offer only to realize that the world isn’t as beautiful as it seems.
Written and directed by Bernard Rose (“Candyman”), “Frankenstein” is told entirely from Adam’s perspective. This viewpoint allows you to relate to Adam and see him in a light that is fantastically different than how the rest of the world sees him. Adam is, for the most part, a newborn, but what’s interesting is that he narrates his own more rational thoughts in bits of dialogue that are strangely intellectual and brilliantly poetic.
Adam nurses like a newborn calf. You see through his eyes as he learns to use his eyelids at the beginning of the film. He is babied by Marie and views her as a mother because of it. His violent actions aren’t ever really called into question and he has no idea just how strong he is. Xavier Samuel is compelling as Adam portraying wondrous facial expressions and appearing to be enticed, frightened, and frustrated with this magnificently brutal world he’s been thrown into.
The film does an impeccable job of allowing the audience to feel and experience the world as Adam does. Even though he’s bathed in blood the majority of the film and literally picks someone’s brain for one of the more memorable moments of the film, you feel sorry for him overall and just want him to find peace as his journey progresses. Everything begins in this cramped medical facility with dark corridors and blinding fluorescent lights. Adam is constantly bathed in this heavenly glow. Visually, whether it’s through what was shot on film or something as simple as exquisite lighting, “Frankenstein” is superb. The world is overflowing in rivers of color and that is how it’s presented in the film.
You sympathize with Adam as he learns more about life. As he is introduced to compassion, friendship, and even love, the film juggles throwing in homage to its roots; angry mobs, encountering a little girl by water, the desire to feel loved, and confronting his creator. For a film that was mostly under the radar, bypassed a wide theatrical release, and was practically dumped directly to DVD/Blu-ray other than a few pit stops at a few film festivals, “Frankenstein” is surprisingly worthwhile. The acting is top notch, the makeup effects are impressive, and the story is intriguing; even the vengeful story arc between Adam and Officer Banks (Jeff Hilliard) is satisfying.
Adam is completely misunderstood throughout the film. Even as he bonds with blind musician Eddie Child (Tony Todd), Eddie never really knows what Adam is or is capable of until it’s too late. Eddie is the first human other than Marie to show kindness towards Adam. Adam destroys everything and can never have a normal life no matter how hard he tries. This is a story of a creature that shouldn’t exist accepting the fact that he has to be alone. Despite craving intimacy and a friend, Adam must cope with being the monster everyone thinks he is.
“Frankenstein” is a monstrous journey right up until the final scene. You know things likely won’t end well for Adam, so a happy ending isn’t something that materializes in any sort of preconceived expectations. The ending itself involves lackluster computer generated effects and a massively lame line of dialogue that is delivered in cheesy fashion. It is legitimately the weakest scene in the film, which is more than a little disappointing since you become quite invested in Adam’s story.
Bernard Rose has constructed a refreshing take on a horror classic with a freakishly fascinating performance from Xavier Samuel. “Frankenstein” is tragic and sentimental underneath with a gloriously hideous exterior. Even with its one minor flaw, “Frankenstein” is a horrifically mesmerizing experience.