Be warned. This is, essentially, another film in the long line of “found footage” films. Karel Roden plays Sergei, a propaganda filmmaker accompanying a group of Russian soldiers as they wander through enemy territory during the Second World War. They eventually stumble across a secret laboratory and, before you can say “Outpost?”, everything starts to go horribly wrong when they find themselves under attack by creatures that have been put together with parts obtained from various corpses and machines. The camera keeps rolling, and the monsters keep coming.
The cast isn’t all that important here, the script by Chris W. Mitchell and Miguel Tejas-Flores serves its purpose without serving up any truly memorable lines, and things like logic and editing choices can be put to one side. All that really matters, when everything starts to liven up, is the direction from Richard Raaphorst and his unwavering dedication to wringing the most fun out of the potential offered up by the title.
After a slow and steady first 20-30 minutes, Frankenstein’s Army catapults the viewer into a complete nightmare world. A gallery of grotesques, all out to kill the ignorant soldiers who have stumbled into this fresh hell. The design, both in terms of the crazy creatures (all dead flesh and sharp metal bits, and sometimes also moving machinery) and the blood-spattered building that the soldiers find themselves in, is consistently superb.
I must admit that I wished it hadn’t gone for the found footage style, but it doesn’t cause too many problems. The whole movie gains that feeling of closeness and immediacy that the style does well, while the many minor flaws are easily cast aside while the gore and madness just keeps filling up the screen.
If you go into a movie called Frankenstein’s Army and aren’t too sure whether you’re going to like it or not . . . . . . . . . well, you can’t say that the major themes and tone of the movie weren’t signposted well enough in advance. It’s bags and bags of fun, with a streak of black humour running just under everything like blood being washed down a groove towards the drain, but it’s also given care, love and attention where it matters most – the creature design – so that any mis-steps are all too easy to forgive.
Personally, I can’t wait to see what Richard Raaphorst comes up with next.
DIRECTOR: RICHARD RAAPHORST
WRITER: CHRIS W MITCHELL, MIGUEL TEJAS-FLORES
STARS: KAREL RODEN, JOSHUA SASSE, ROBERT GWILYM, ALEXANDER MERCURY, LUKE NEWBERRY, HON PING TANG
RUNTIME: 84 MINS APPROX