Bernard Rose has a knack for bringing the human condition into characters on screen, and from there, transposing it to our minds as audience members when we are experiencing his pictures. His newest feature, Frankenstein builds on to that.
Candyman, Paperhouse, and Immortal Beloved are all zenith examples of mythical “genre films” wherein the real themes presented are the characters themselves, and the iconographies of genre lay by the wayside, standing as mere coincidence, rather than complete audience draw. In his newest picture, a modern retelling of Mary Shelley’s classic story of Gothic horror and the default of man and his flaws, Frankenstein, carries on this method, and even perfects it in many areas.
Like Candyman, this film attempts to project the feared myths of culture past and folklore on an already assuming audience in attempt to bring the tale to real terms. What we get in return, is a story not about fabled characters, but real people; people that we all know. The plot (given brief) concerns itself with a more loyal take on the story – Doctor Viktor Frankenstein (Danny Huston), his wife (Carrie-Ann Moss, who has never looked lovelier), and their assistant are research scientists attempting to create the perfect proto-human (Xavier Samuel). Once this goal is achieved, there may be a way to create cures and longevity in the medicinal field. The project is completed and a man is born.
Scientific difficulties prove unforeseen and our perfect human being becomes something a little less human. A practice to put the proto-man down via lethal injection backfires, and thus the “Monster” is unleashed upon the world. Instead of a London town in history, unleashed upon in fear, we have the modern Metropolis of Los Angeles swept away in doubt. This propels the story (and film) to a platform that renders anything possible, and for anything to happen. And it does. Many of the characters from the story are present here, devoutly portrayed, and slyly woven into the very fabric of how we view society today.
What this brings about, is an emotionally charged, utterly compelling, and beautifully deranged epic tale with relevant themes that reign very akin to previous Rose fare: Prejudice, class struggle, inner demons vs. the evil of man, et al. All the violence, degradation, mutilation, and gore to be found in the story are present, but in a way that reminds us how very human, and vulnerable we are. Slight bits of comic relief litter the film, but the direction is so spot on, and the story, so poignantly told, that it’s actually difficult to catch the drift, and spot the poetic irony.
Rose indulges in his fare share of gore, violence, and the surrender of man in the face of true danger, all the while making the audience realize how ignorant we are to how bad the world can be, and therefore taking away the sense of security we feel sitting in a darkened movie theater, and pulling the veneer off of the simple picture we are experiencing. However, it’s there, in all it’s glory. Rose tips his hat to the underdogs of the world today, while reminding us that it also takes a man (or woman) with good intention to bring about the changes that the world is perpetually cycling through.
A good film will, regardless of genre or intended audience, make it’s audience laugh, cry, tremble, or become angry. The best ones are capable of accomplishing all, and leaving the audience in the deepest comatose state of reflection upon leaving the movie house. Rose’s adaptation of Frankenstein manages to do all of this and more. In the end, he delivers a bona fide ADULT horror movie that should satisfy genre fans and fans of the original story alike. Sadly, the film, being distributed independently, will probably never be as recognized as it’s predecessors, given the desensitization to horror of the current generation.