Released in 2013, The Frankenstein Theory begins with a relatively intriguing premise that the creation of the so-called Frankenstein monster actually happened. However, the movie quickly loses its way, becoming simply another tedious entry in the found-footage genre that has spawned many disappointing films, including The Last Exorcism, the creators of which also take responsibility for this flick.
Directed by Andrew Weiner, The Frankenstein Theory focuses on Jonathan Venkenheim (Kris Lemche), who claims that it was his ancestor who was responsible for the reanimation of a dead creature. Mary Shelley then penned her famous novel after these purportedly true incidents. At the end of the novel, the Frankenstein monster has secluded himself in the Arctic Circle, and Venkenheim believes that the creature is still there.
To prove his “Frankenstein Theory,” Venkenheim secures the services of a film crew, which is headed by director/supervisor Vicky (Heather Stephens). To make their way through the rigors of the arctic, Venkenheim also hires a guide, Karl (Timothy V. Murphy—who played Ian Doyle in Criminal Minds, in a fine tongue-in-cheek performance). The expedition starts off by visiting Clarence (Joe Egender in an over-the-top performance) who claims he survived an attack by the creature while trying to sell meth to the natives.
The bulk of the story then focuses on the expedition traveling through the Arctic tundra, at length stopping at a hunting/trapping yurt (a hastily constructed dwelling), where they set up camp. Unbeknownst to them, the monster is hunting them, as it has used the yurt to survive the harshest winter months. The creature then begins so systematically kill all the males of the expedition, as later hints by Venkenheim indicate that the creature yearns for human companionship. Indeed, a key hint is given when a female doll is found within the yurt kept by men. The doll belongs to the monster, as a key scene during the final reel reveals.
The movie’s strength comes from its intriguing premise, one that would have yielded serious dividends had the scriptwriters and the director elected to explore it deeply and intelligently. Instead, the movie relies on what have become cliché sequences in found-footage movies, such as relying on what cannot be seen to evoke chills, using night-vision equipment to make things scarier than they are, and relying on the actors’ reactions to evoke similar reactions in the audience. Sadly, none of these elements work very well, and it is particularly disappointing when the titular creature does make the scene (during the last few minutes of the movie). Those wishing to see the creature as it appears on the DVD cover will be disappointed, and some of you may be justifiably angry.
Another failing of this film is the fact that the scriptwriters and directors have (1) not read the source material or (2) have read it an elected to ignore great portions of the narrative. In the novel, the monster was quite intelligent and articulate. It was the Universal movies that made him a brute with a criminal’s brain. And so it goes with The Frankenstein Theory.
There are two sequences that are worth watching. The first is when guide Karl evokes the spirit of Jaws’ Quint (Robert Shaw) when he tells the tale of how a great bear destroyed all but one man on a previous expedition (a hunting trip). And the second is the ending, where the monster at last secures a companion. Other than these two sequences (and the characters of Eric and Brian, who provide some comic relief), The Frankenstein Theory is not worth watching, not even once.