Thursday, April 10, 2014

Film Review: Frankenstein's Army (2013)

Frankenstein's Army (Review)
United States/Netherlands/2013
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"...a wicked concept aimed at having a great time."

After receiving a distress call from a fellow battalion, a group of Russian soldiers stumble upon a seemingly abandoned village... and an army of half-human, half-machine creatures...

Frankenstein's Army follows this battalion of Russian soldiers as they answer the distress call, and as they film their mission -- this is a found-footage film. They end up at this abandoned village and, upon further inspection, find a secret Nazi facility. Apparently, using Dr. Frankenstein's work, the Nazis were creating creatures from different metals and the body parts of their dead comrades -- no need for lightning thanks to generators. There's a little twist in the story, but most of it is basically the soldiers trying to survive this army of monsters. The final act picks up the pace and explains a lot, and features some great chase sequences. I like the ending of the film -- doesn't take itself too seriously, but it's a satisfying ending.

Frankenstein's Army is an interesting concept with great execution. Okay, the found-footage style isn't necessary and can be occasionally detrimental, but it ends up working more than serviceably. Otherwise, the slow buildup to the first monster reveal is great. There are a few jump-scares, none of which are particularly effective, but worth noting. Also, there are a few great chase/escape scenes in this film that create a sense of being surrounded and overwhelmed; they remind me of the first person sequence at the end of the Doom movie. The creatures range from awesome to eerie -- regardless, their nightmarish designs are creative and even frightening -- a genuine highlight for the film. The gore effects are great too, a little cheesy, but a well-appreciated throwback. The story isn't deep or well-developed, but it offers a good enough frame for the fascinating concept. Really, this is more for fans of practical special effects, creature features, and throwback horror films -- it's a film with a wicked concept aimed at having a great time.

The acting was decent; there are no standout performances, or any terrible performances, either. As previously states, the found-footage style makes it hard to see what's going on; it's unfortunate since the style really isn't necessary and I would really like to see these creatures a but more clearly. The practical designs for the creatures are fantastic; it really helps the film develop it's own distinct style, and it really brings you into this insane world. Writer and director Richard Raaphorst crafts a great creature horror film; he develops a fascinating world with amazing creatures, but the found-footage elements feels like nothing more than a useless gimmick.

Overall, Frankenstein's Army is a very good creature feature. The creature and costume design are fantastic -- I really loved this world I was dropped into. The plot isn't fully developed, something felt like it was missing, and the found-footage style hurt the film a bit. Regardless, it's one of the few found-footage horror films worth seeking.

Score: 7/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and gore.

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