Frankenstein review: Rose’s adaptation is intelligent and challenging, this will cited in years to come when studying the original text.

Frankenstein review
Frankenstein review

Director: Bernard Rose
Cast: Xavier Samuel, Danny Huston, Carrie-Anne Moss, Tony Todd, Maya Erskine
Certificate: TBD
Running Time: 89 Minutes

Synopsis: Modern day meets classical horror when a human is created using a 3D printer, but after the creature starts to malfunction he is left on the scrapheap.

Do we really need another interpretation of Frankenstein? After all the story has been around for quite some time. Like, at least a decade, and with so many theatrical films based around Mary Shelly’s classic, you’d think we’d already had the definitive version. On top of that, efforts such as I, Frankenstein and Van Helsing have really scraped the very bottom of the barrel. There’s even another adaptation out soon starring Daniel Radcliffe and James McAvoy. So we ask again, do we need Candyman director Bernard Rose’s Frankenstein? Considering this is one of the absolute best adaptations, then I’d have to go with a solid yes.

Set in a very modern LA, the home of plastic surgery and crushed dreams, our pair of Frankensteins, a husband and wife – with Huston as the well known Victor and Moss as his wife – set about creating life. This adaptation does away with the grave robbing corpse assembly aspects first used by James Whale’s version, and gives us the 3D printed monster played elegantly by Xavier Samuels. After this, the beats are pretty much the same as many iterations of the story, only this time it all feels very current and fresh.

Frankenstein review
Frankenstein review

The central performance is immense on every level. Samuels, who remains the only good thing about the Twilight films in my book, here gets to explore another monster and does so with great skill. This monster starts life as a huge baby, which in itself is a very scary notion given his size and strength. He needs to be cared for, learn how to eat, and gradually evolve to his surroundings. He’s scary because he’s just so damn innocent. Samuels shows what it’s like to be so vulnerable, but how chaotic it can be when trying to get his way.

It is soon discovered that there is a problem with the monsters cells, and he begins to degrade. A failed attempt to put him down and the monster escapes into a world that fears and mistreats him. The tragedy being that even those who show kindness to monster – a name he takes on after being attacked by an angry mob – end up getting hurt. Like all great tragedies, we can see disaster coming a mile away.

Frankenstein review
Frankenstein review

LA serves as the perfect backdrop, allowing Rose to also handle themes of police brutality as well. A wonderful microcosm of the world is presented, lead by Tony Todd’s engaging and lovable portrayal of a blind beggar musician. He teaches monster the ways of the world, teaching him how to speak, how to find food thrown away by big outlets and restaurants, and even introduces him to women.

Frankenstein has that rare beauty of being something we are completely familiar with, yet feels as though we are watching it with fresh eyes for the very first time. It has an abundance of heart, spot on social commentary, raises questions about science and ethics, and entertains while making us reflect. Intelligent and challenging, this will cited in years to come when studying the original text.

Frankenstein review by Luke Ryan Baldock, August 2015.

Frankenstein was screened at Frightfest 2015.