World War II, Russian soldiers on a rescue mission in eastern Germany discover a secret Nazi lab and creations which pose a threat to both sides.
Set during WWII it pulls no punches, many of the characters are unsavoury, there’s burning body piles, dying Nuns, slaughtered villagers, attempted rape (none of which is glorified). Multi-talented Richard Raaphorst known for his concept designs has directed a few shorts prior and here he finally gets a chance to put his unique designs onto screen in his own feature. Creator of the best trailer to a film that never was ‘Worst Case Scenario’ (Woensdag Gehaktdag) he’s no stranger to haunting visuals.
Frankenstein’s Army is shot as P.O.V film but don’t be mistaken this isn’t your low budget rickety camera footage film that there’s an abundance of, it’s in a different league in both style and execution, it’s crisp and well conceived as character Dimitri (Alexander Mercury) is charged with filming the mission. This utilisation of Dimitri’s cam’ nicely is fits into the story and it’s flip zoom (based on the camera of the period) allows for additional jump scares with explosions, blood spatter and monster abominations popping into the peripheral vision from every corner. It also allows editor Jasper Verhorevoort flexibly to keep the pace fast and the action and suspense flowing.
There’s fellowship against all odds, with a few twists and turns in the journey, director Raaphorst moves quickly from one location to the next, from dilapidated houses, the countryside, to a hanger like buildings with tracks to cart bodies, claustrophobic corridors, darkly lit smoke-filled rooms. The camera compliments this and no doubt allowed the budget to be spent creating worn authentic feel with its creepy set design, strewn body parts and period engineered robots and excellent locations.
The acting is realistic enough with some worn faces on display Robert Gwilym, Jan de Lukowicz and Klaus Lucas to name a few. The younger cast are notable – Alexander Mercury and Cristina Catalina are effective. Although Karel Roden has limited screen time he is excellent as the memorable obsessive, yet unruffled scientist Viktor who merges metal with flesh and reanimates his creations. Also it may seem like a straight forwarded visual horror but in writers Mitchell, Raaphorst, Shelley and Tejada-Flores story there is plenty of interesting subtext, not only surrounding science and progress but war and ethics.
Full credit to the art, costume designers and make up department the stars of Raaphorst’s offering are Viktor’s ingenious creations the Zombots, which are difficult to describe – not limited to there’s legs with naval-like mines for heads, leather clad gas masked reanimated on stilts, electrical blind leathery skinned females, period heavy footed diving suit-bots, bug-eyed masked soldiers with cleavers for hands, a head with a body of a teddy bear in a glass case, it really is surreal haunting imagery and that’s not including the severed limbs, heads and lobotomies on display. This coupled with some clever sound design and eerie period music and soundtrack give a complete immersible experience.
Frankenstein’s Army industrial, electrical and biotechnology gives it a truly unique feel. It has the most visually interesting horror antagonists since Hellraiser, Neon Maniacs and Nightbreed. A splanchnic visual atmospheric horror treat… Epical. Don’t expect the conventional horror ride.
Frankenstein’s Army on IMDB