A NIGHTMARE WAKES
(director/writer: Nora Unkel; cinematographer: Oren Soffer; editor: Scott Schuler; music: Jon Cziner; cast: Alix Wilton Regan (Mary Shelley), Giullian Yao Gioiello (Percey Shelley), Philippe Bowgen (Lord Byron), Lee Garrett (Dr. John Polidori); Claire Glassford (Claire Clairmont); Runtime: 90; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Robert Menzies/Devin Shepherd/Gabriel Rosenstein/Eric Tavitian/Frédéric Fiore; Wild Obscura Films; 2020)
“Proves to be another bad film on the writing of “Frankenstein.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Nora Unkel‘s psychological thriller about the complicated character of Mary Shelley (Alix Wilton Regan), a young writer whose Frankenstein story comes to life in vivid hallucinations, causing her to question the people around her.
Unkel’s debut feature is made on a limited budget. The haunting horror pic despite salvaging a few good things about it–proves to be another bad film on the writing of “Frankenstein.” Mary Shelley is the 19th century wife of the great poet Percy Bysshe Shelley and friend of Lord Byron.
The over-familiar story of how her “Frankenstein” was written, has Lord Byron (Philippe Bowgen), in 1816, in his Swiss summer vacation home, on Lake Geneva, bring on a competition among his literary inner circle of who can tell the “best ghost story by firelight.” Byron’s doctor friend Polidori (Lee Garrett) brings on the first famous vampire story, but is topped by Mary’s monster story. Also at the storytelling site is Mary’s half-sister Claire (Claire Glassford), who slept with Mary’s husband.
Mary’s story has her plagued by nightmares, depression, the trauma of her childbirth and the visions of blood on her hands.
Since the social conventions of her time did not recognize women as great artists, she credits her story to her famous husband poet in order to get it published and reviewed.
When in action writing her masterpiece, we see her onscreen from time to time intoning “It was on a dreary night of November …”.
The earnest but vacuous film by pointing out nothing new from the many other Mary Shelley films and saddled with many amateurish performances (such as Philippe Bowgen as Byron absurdly playing him as a buffoon, while Gioiello made Shelley into an unsympathetic cold fish), makes me believe there was no reason for this so-so quasi-horror film to be made again.
REVIEWED ON 2/9/2021 GRADE: C+