Friday, November 8, 2013

Frankenstein's Army (2013) Review

Frankenstein's Army poster
Frankenstein's Army monster
Frankenstein's Army Dr. Viktor Frankenstein
Frankenstein's Army saw monster
Purchase from Amazon: DVD - Blu-Ray - Stream

+Awesome monster design
+Good special effects
-Poor writing
-Underwhelming execution

Similar films: Dead Snow 

Director: Richard Raaphorst
Stars: Karel Roden, Joshua Sasse
Genre: Science Fiction, Horror, War

The rough concept of Frankenstein's Army is that essentially it's the Frankenstein story set in WWII instead of the 19th century. Keep in mind it's a very loose Frankenstein story; that is, it really only shares a few basic themes, i.e. a scientist who assembles monsters.

But I like the concept of a group of Russian soldiers going on a mysterious mission and having to fight off weird Nazi creatures while descending into a hellish laboratory. Horror movie + War movie? Awesome. I just wish the execution of this concept was a bit better.

The writing isn't all that great. The writers felt the need to add some internal conflict within the group of Russian soldiers, which was honestly unnecessary. If it had been done well maybe I'd think differently, but it's not. The dramatic parts (and luckily there's not many of them) are pretty pointless and cliched. The characters are also pretty dull and almost all their action/reactions are completely unbelievable. It doesn't help that the acting is only ever decent at best.

It's shot from a loose found footage first person perspective. I say loose because it's not very strict about it. There's plenty of cuts and stuff that defy the form. And while the shooting style does have a slight narrative purpose, it's really just there so that no actual quality cinematography had to be done. Which, ya know, for a low-budget horror movie it's understandable.

It's not that scary either. Usually POV found footage films don't take much effort to be made scary, but this one is relatively action orientated.

It basically plays out like an on-rails shooter. This could have easily been a spin-off of the House of the Dead video game series. Seriously; there's the first-person perspective, there's a a variety of monsters that just pop out randomly from behind doors, the monsters often just stand in front of the camera and attack the air, and much of the camera movement is nearly identical to something you'd see in an on-rails shooter (quick turn arounds, looking left and right around a room, peaking around corners, etc.). Monsters come out and the soldiers shoot at them for awhile while we observe from a soldier's point-of-view and then the monsters die and the soldiers continue on through some more corridors. This is a video game. Actually, I think this film would be more enjoyable if you get a light-gun (preferably a NES Zapper) and pretend to shoot at the monsters while you watch the movie. I think it'll actually work out pretty well and you may even trick yourself into thinking you're playing a video game.

The best thing about this movie is easily the monsters. The creature design is pretty awesome (Mosquito Man!) and the special effects are done very well, even if they do sometimes look silly or unbelievable. They're over-the-top (monsters like these would be completely ineffective in actual warfare) but they look great. The main problem is that they don't really do much. The monsters pop out and dance around a while for the camera and then just die. If this movie is essentially a non-interactive on-rails shooter, then it's severely lacking a cool boss battle.

Watch for the interesting monster design. That's about all that's worthwhile here. It's not bad, it's certainly watchable and mostly enjoyable, it's just nothing really special or impressive.

2.5/5 stars
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