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Film4 Frightfest 2015 review: Frankenstein

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Bernard “Candyman” Rose’s Frankenstein stars Carrie-Anne Moss (The Matrix), Danny Huston (American Horror Story) and Xavier Samuel (The Loved Ones), and is a modern retelling of Shelley’s story with “the monster” being created via 3D printing.

Once the creature (Samuel) starts to exhibit signs of decay, his creators, the Frankenstein’s (Huston and Moss) pull the plug and put him down. However, the lethal injection they administer doesn’t take and their creation escapes into the outside world.

Scared and alone, he scrapes survival aided by an attack dog sent after him that he outruns and befriends. This relationship is immensely touching, so it hurts so much when we see it casually taken from him by unfeeling policemen who mistakenly think he has tried to drown a young girl.

The creature tearfully flees, but mid-mans-best-friend-burial an angry mob descend on him. Winding up in police custody, one of his creators is located and brought in, but denies knowing him. Chewed up and spat out by the system, the creature – now calling himself “Monster” – ends up on the streets, filling in the gaps in his education via a homeless blind man (Tony Todd) playing the blues, and a hooker with a heart of gold showing him stuff on her iPhone. After yet more heart-breaking and violent tragedy, “Monster” heads home to confront his “mother” and “father”.

Frankenstein is frankly magnificent. It is a shocking, stunning and sad film, shot through with all-round excellent performances. Rose’s handheld camera lends a constant life and immediacy to proceedings, and he manages to make making the story thoroughly modern add and update Shelley’s work, without ruining what has made it so special and such a touchstone for all these years.

There have been so many versions and variations of this material, but this Bernard Rose version is the best there has been for years, and his star, Xavier Samuels, is the best Frankenstein’s monster since Robert De Niro played the part for Kenneth Branagh in ’94.

Samuel’s portrayal of “Monster” is incredible, abandoned, beaten and brutalised, and only innocently aping the hideous violence doled out to him; and he is backed up expertly by Huston as a cold scientist and reluctant father having too make tough choices, Moss’s mother meets love interest, and a spectacular turn from Tony Todd.

5-out-of-5

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