(director/writer: Larry Fessenden; cinematographers: James Siewert/Chris Skotchdopole; editor: Larry Fessenden; music: Will Bates; cast: David Call (Henry), Joshua Leonard(Polidori), Alex Breaux (Adam), Chloë Levine (Lucy), Owen Campbell (Alex), Ana Kayne (Liz), Addison Timlin (Shelley, Barfly); Runtime: 114; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Jenn Wexler/Chadd Harbold/Larry Fessenden; Glass Eye Pix; 2019)
“Fessenden, renown as the favorite of the NY indie horror crowd, should delight them with this stylish and superbly told chiller.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Larry Fessenden’s (“Habit”/”Wendigo”) first directorial effort since 2013’s Beneath is an endearing low-budget horror thriller that reworks Mary Shelley’s 19th century Frankenstein classic story into modern times and relocates it to Brooklyn. Fessenden, renown as the favorite of the NY indie horror crowd, should delight them with this stylish and superbly told chiller.
The plot is about a disillusioned army medic Henry (David Call) who returns from duty in the Iraq War suffering from PTSD and is unable to socialize. Henry makes a man from body parts just like Frankenstein was created, as he brings him to life in a lab in his Brooklyn loft. Things open with the obnoxious young man Alex (Owen Campbell) leaving his girlfriend Lucy’s (Chloë Levine) apartment and refusing to stay the night after getting laid, despite her pleas. On the walk home he’s stabbed by an unseen attacker, but before he dies Henry has him in his lab and uses his brain for the body he has already stitched together. Alex no longer remembers who he was, and goes by the name Adam (Alex Breaux). Fortunately the creature’s brain functions and we are shown how Henry sensitively uses the synesthesia effect of blooming colors and kaleidoscopic shapes to stimulate Adam’s childlike emotions.
When Henry visits, with his creator at The Met, the museum leaves Adam in awe of the magnificent art and natural history he encounters. During this excursion, Adam meets Polidori (Joshua Leonard), the big talking secret Pharma benefactor behind Henry’s research, and Adam begins a friendship with him after impressed by his sophistication and culture. This abandonment of Henry crushes him until they bond again after the creature gets some affection from Henry’s estranged girlfriend, the therapist Liz (Ana Kayne), who works with the vets. The monster then realizes what the caring Henry has to offer. Like in the James Whale film, the monster proves more human than most humans.
We are asked what is Henry’s purpose in creating the monster, and the viewer has much to speculate about. But it certainly pertains to mankind’s search for love and finding companionship with others.
It’s a great horror film, one that has an amazing super performance by Breaux and an excellent one by Call. Only the clunky performances by Leonard and Kayne are not stitched tightly together. But all is forgiven, as the tumultuous finale ratchets up the horror scares and delivers the cult film to the upper echelons of the genre.
REVIEWED ON 3/1/2019 GRADE: A- https://dennisschwartzreviews.com/