depraved | larry fessenden | david call | joshua leonard | alex breaux | frankenstein | frankenstein's monster | remake | drama | thriller | united states | ana kayne | maria dizzia | chloe levine | addison timlin | jack fessenden | based on | novel | mary shelley
Director: Larry Fessenden
Writer: Larry Fessenden
Starring: David Call, Joshua Leonard and Alex Breaux
This was a film that I was intrigued to check out when I saw that it was going to be a Frankenstein film from Larry Fessenden. I’m not always the biggest fan of his works, but I give him a lot of credit and I will always give them a watch after discovering him. The synopsis is a disillusioned field surgeon suffering from PTSD makes a man out of body parts and brings him to life in a Brooklyn loft.
We start this film with a couple as they’re making love. They are at Lucy’s (Chloë Levine) house and Eddie (Jack Fessenden) is going to be moving in soon. They get into a fight when Lucy makes a comment about him making a good father. He leaves and he is attacked by someone on the street. He is stabbed in the chest.
It then shifts to Adam (Alex Breaux) waking up. He checks a mirror, but doesn’t remember anything. Henry (David Call) comes in and takes him to another room. We then see that he is trying to teach him the basic functions of being a human. Adam does get some flashes though of past memories, but can’t put them together.
There is an interesting interaction where Liz (Ana Kayne) is trying to figure out what her boyfriend, Henry, is doing and ends up meeting Adam. It is through conversations though we learn that Polidori (Joshua Leonard) is funding this operation. They’re trying to show that a new drug has practical and military applications. Adam is the first test subject and they’re doing it in secret. The problem though becomes that the more Adam learns, the more he wants human interactions. Henry doesn’t think he is ready and starts to have second thoughts where Polidori’s career and money are riding on this. The problem is though, Adam does have a say in this as well.
Now I wanted to go a little bit vague with my recap here, because if I’m honest there’s not a lot to the story itself. I will give credit to writer/director Fessenden is that he does a great job here of adapting a good portion of the Frankenstein novel to a modern time. I won’t break it all down as that would go into spoilers, but there are some things that I want to go over.
The first really has to do with Henry. It definitely isn’t a coincidence that is the name from the Universal Classic for the doctor as well. Even Polidori makes a comment on this bringing a bit of meta into this film. I like the reason that Henry agrees to do this though. He was a field surgeon in the military and when he lost a patient, it messed with him. He was actually trying to reattach limbs in the field and that’s when Polidori hears about it. Now that he’s back, he’s struggling with carrying a normal life due to the PTSD of his time serving.
Polidori is an interesting character as he is a quasi-villain. What I really like though is that Fessenden does a great job making the entire cast of characters complex to where you have to decide morally who to back and who not to. I personally find that to be a strong move as it makes me think and decide instead of being thrust into what the movie wants. He only wants to help people though to make a name for himself with his company, the field of study and to make a lot of money.
Adam is also solid as the monster here. He is constructed of body parts and is using a brain that is flashing images to him. This film goes arthouse here as we are seeing different things happening in the brain superimposed over the images on the screen. I do think this can be a bit cumbersome at times, but I also found it interesting. We kind of get an idea of what it would look like if we were experiencing what he is internally. It is hard to also blame Adam for anything bad he does. He doesn’t remember basic humanity as he has to be re-taught.
Something I did have an issue with though was the pacing. The movie runs almost two hours and I think it is too long. I understand that we need some aspects here. Like we need to see him learning things, but we kind of just get a lot of the same thing over and over again, which I do think bogs this down a bit. I like where it ends up and as I said, if you know the story of Frankenstein you actually can pick up the different points throughout. I like that as well as how it ends, but I just think it could be tightened up for sure.
That moves me to the acting, which I think is pretty solid. I like that at first Call is on-board with what he’s doing, but the more he sees Adam grow, the worse he feels. There is growth and humanity there that I like. He does want to destroy this creation, knowing that they defied the laws of nature and doing a disservice to his creation. Leonard is pretty good as the villain here who is mostly money hungry. I thought Breaux has a good look as the monster and I like how he plays the role. Kayne is quite attractive and I liked her performance. Same could be said for Levine and it was interesting to see Fessenden’s son Jack here. He did a solid job too. Shout out as well to Addison Timlin, she was quite attractive as well. She and the rest of the cast rounded out the film for what was needed.
As for the effects of the film, they were well done. They were mostly practical from what I could tell which I expect nothing less from a low budget filmmaker like Fessenden. I do really like the scars and the look they use on Adam to show he is pieced together. There is a bit of CGI, but I didn’t mind it. I did think they overused the reactions and how things would look inside the brain, but it doesn’t ruin the film. It is also shot very well overall in my opinion.
Now with that said, this was an interesting take on the classic tale. I really like the updates that are made to the story. The motivations of the characters are believable and it definitely makes Adam a tragic character. I think that the movie does run a bit long though and could have been tightened up. I could see the points from the novel that are used which I’m a sucker for. I thought the acting was good across the board as were the effects, especially the scars on Adam. The CGI was also solid, but they did overuse a bit of it. The soundtrack didn’t really stand out to me, but it also didn’t hurt the film. It did fit for what was needed. I don’t think this is a great movie, but a solid adaptation to the classic tale for sure. I think the movie is above average.
My Rating: 6.5 out of 10