MVD Visual // 2011 // 60 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Gordon Sullivan // April 15th, 2011
Some men make monsters, Victor just wanted a friend.
There's often a question in reviewing about what, exactly, is under review. Because we live in a twenty-four-hour news cycle world where hype machines churn out stories day in and day out, viewers often know as much about a film's production as they do about the film before it's seen by the general public. Sometimes, especially in true story dramas or biopics, the material surrounding the film becomes more important than the film itself. So reviewers are left with the unenviable task of deciding what, exactly, to review. This is especially pertinent for a film like Creep Creepersin's Frankenstein. I slogged through all 60 minutes of this low-budget opus completely nonplussed, unimpressed by the story, acting, or visuals. Then, I put the included making-of documentary on and was told in the first few minutes that the filmmakers were trying to make a feature in a day and a half. Getting 60 minutes of usable footage out of thirty-six hours work is an impressive feat, which makes me want to be kind to Frankenstein. However, no matter how generous I'm feeling towards the film, this short feature will still baffle and/or bore the vast majority of viewers.
Creep Creepersin's Frankenstein tells the story of Victor, a guy with no friends outside his pet rat Frankenstein. He spends his days watching old horror films, increasingly detached from reality. Taking his cue from these films and haunted by his dead mother, Victor decides that the only way to get a friend is to make one, but even that could have disastrous consequences for the young man.
The opening five minutes of Frankenstein had me hooked. Using video superimposition, Creep Creepersin merges video images he shot with footage out of old (obviously public domain) fright flicks while the credits roll. These first five minutes have a dreamy, experimental quality that's pretty amazing. The video transfer gives the old images an interesting texture, and the combination of some of the barren landscapes with the Gothic views of earlier films creates a pretty pervasive sense of dread. I could have easily sat through 60 minutes of this as an experimental film and been totally pleased.
Sadly, that's where the film stops being interesting. The rest of the film (except for a few scenes where Victor watches more films, recreating the effect of those opening minutes) follows Victor around as he acts strange and talks to his rat, Frankenstein. There's almost no dialogue, and the visual parts of the story generally involve the camera lingering on Victor as he sits somewhere looking weird. The story (such as it is) develops slowly as Victor seems to lose it before his final decision to create a "friend." There's very little to give Victor a backstory or any genuine characterization, which makes his decent into madness not very compelling.
After watching the included documentary, it's easy to see why Frankenstein looks the way it does. Nothing eats into a film's schedule like shooting dialogue. If all the camera has to do is film someone for a few minutes looking strange, there's very little chance that a second take will be needed. With little dialogue to remember, actors get most takes in one, and 60 minutes of footage can be filmed in a day and a half with relative ease. It's pretty impressive that Creepersin and Co. could so easily adapt themselves to the vicissitudes of indie production, but the documentary simply highlights the film's faults even as it excuses them. If the film is to be mostly silent because of the shooting schedule, why not go all out and just make a silent feature?
On DVD, Frankenstein looks like the low-budget production that it is. The video looks consumer grade, but for all that the transfer appears free of any serious artefact or compression problems. As long as viewers expect a typical video image they won't be disappointed. The stereo audio keeps the dialogue audible. However, there are a number of jump scares in the film based on using high-volume sound effects. I found them more annoying than scary, but viewers might want to keep a hand near the remote to ensure speakers and ears remain undamaged. The main extra is the included documentary, which uses interview and behind-the-scenes footage to show how the film got made. In many ways, it's more compelling than the film itself and is probably worth a look for any aspiring indie filmmakers. The film's trailer is also included.
Creep Creepersin's Frankenstein gets points for making a film in a short amount of time, and there's definite potential in some of the video effects. However, the lack of a conventional story will likely turn most viewers off. Those looking for horror will be similarly disappointed -- despite the sometimes dreadful atmosphere, the film's only scares are generated by jumps on the soundtrack. This is a decent DVD of the film, but it's only worth a rental to hardcore indie viewers or fans of Creep Creepersin's other ventures.
Despite an interesting backstory, Creep Creepersin's Frankenstein is guilty of being boring.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: MVD Visual
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 60 Minutes
Release Year: 2011
MPAA Rating: Not Rated