A group of film makers follow an improbably young professor who is intent on saving the reputation of his family name by proving that Frankenstein was more than just a work of fiction.
The concept is an interesting one – what if Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein was based on fact? Unfortunately, it’s executed in a tedious way that is a reminder that found footage films are rarely as engaging as their premise.
As would be expected, given that none of the characters are supposed to be professionals, the actors manage to capture the awkwardness of going about their business, although Kris Lemche is far and away the best of the lot, despite looking far too young to be Professor Venkenheim.
The story lacks tension, even when the strangeness starts (the cast of two-dimensional characters are incredibly blase when their snowmobiles are trashed). Venkenheim aside, it’s entirely possible that the viewer will forget the names of the other characters as they trek through a landscape that is far more interesting than they are. They lose their best hopes for survival, yet the filming continues without any sense of hopelessness. As the terror ramps up, we get a lot of night-vision camera, jump scare tactics that barely work and a sense of dread that makes Most Haunted look like true horror.
As a genre, found footage has never really matched the skill of Blair Witch and Cannibal Holocaust, having almost become a shorthand for cheap, jump scare laden horror. Paranormal Activity has rumbled on as a box office success, The Dyatlov Pass Incident (Devil’s Pass) was an interesting attempt, whilst Apollo 18 and Chronicle defied expectations and crafted a film that felt “authentic” within the genre. It is, however, an overused trope that, far too often, feels too much like a student film experiment trying to be different.
Thus is the issue with The Frankenstein Theory – the concept exceeds the abilities of the film makers and it feels far from the “original vision in horror” that the blurb suggests.