The idea behind The Frankenstein Theory is clever enough, if more than slightly silly: Mary Shelleys monster wasnt fiction, but thinly disguised fact.
By MICHAEL OSULLIVAN
The Washington Post.
Thats what the movies protagonist, a desperate, disgraced academic named Jonathan Venkenheim (Kris Lemche), believes anyway. Presented as found footage in the style of The Blair Witch Project or Trollhunter, The Frankenstein Theory follows a deeply skeptical documentary film crew as it records Jonathan in his attempt to track down the still-living creature that inspired Shelleys 1818 tale. According to Jonathan, his ancestor, Johann Venkenheim, was the man on whom the character of Dr. Victor Frankenstein was based.
If Jonathans research is correct, the monster is still living on the fringes of the Arctic Circle in remote northern Canada. This is based on Jonathans study of the migratory movements of caribou, which seem to be followed by sharp spikes in the number of unexplained human deaths. (The monsters freakish longevity is explained, somewhat less plausibly, by Johanns experiments combining human DNA with that of birds and other animals.)
So off Venkenheim goes in his SUV, hoping to restore his academic reputation by capturing photographic evidence of this proto-Bigfoots existence. If the creature gets aggressive, Venkenheim intends to reason with him. After all, hes not some dumb animal.
Heck, even Id make a movie about this guy. He sounds absolutely stark-raving nuts.
The feature directorial debut by Andrew Weiner benefits enormously from the incredulity of the film crew following Venkenheim. Although the fictional director (Heather Stephens) seems the most open-minded, her crew (Brian Henderson and Eric Zuckerman) spends much of the movie winking and smirking into the camera in disbelief. Their doubts echo our own, which helps us to swallow what is admittedly a pretty far-fetched premise.
But once Jonathan and the film crew set up camp in the frozen north with their grizzled, French-Canadian guide (Timothy V. Murphy), things start to go bump in the night. The film genuinely gets a little creepy at this point.
Fourteen years after Blair Witch, has the whole found-footage-horror genre jumped the shark? Maybe. Weiner, however, manipulates its well-worn tropes deftly. The fumbling for the light in the dark; the eerie, green, night-vision glow; the shaky camera; the hyperventilating victim as something sniffs around outside; Frankenstein gets as much mileage out this shtick as it possibly can.
The Frankenstein Theory is not a slasher film, nor torture porn. Most of the scariest stuff takes place just off camera, in the minds eye. Although the technique may be a bit tired and the source material almost 200 years old theres something refreshing about the lengths to which it wont go in its search for old-fashioned frights.
(At the Barrywoods.)