Filmmaker Andrew Weiner on The Frankenstein Theory
Filmmaker Andrew Weiner's latest film, The Frankenstein Theory, has a simple premise: what if Mary Shelley's novel Frankenstein were based on a true story? And what if the monster was still alive and living in isolation in the arctic?
Using a found footage documentary style, Weiner constructs a contemporary horror story based on a centuries old monster. Kris Lemche plays Jonathan Venkenhei, a direct descendant of the scientist who put together what became known as the Frankenstein monster. Venkenhei, a university professor who's been disgraced because of his public belief that the creature was real and his theory that it's still alive and living in the frozen arctic, hires a film crew to follow him into the Arctic, saying, "The Frankenstein monster is real, that he exists and he's alive now ... and I think I can find him."
Unfortunately for them, he's right.
Frankenstein Theory co-writer Vlady Pildysh approached Weiner with the idea and the two began to develop a plot line. "I really got caught up in thinking about this creature created by Dr. Frankenstein, what if this thing was still alive?" Weiner tells us. "How could it still be alive 200 years later? How did it survive living completely alone, in total isolation? The more I thought about it, the more I thought we could pull it off and tell this story about the creature living alone in forced exile. Every experience it had had with humans had just been disastrous and just thinking about this intelligent being living alone in the most inhospitable part of the world for a couple of hundred years I thought was a story worth telling."
Weiner turned to the Shelley's life for inspiration. "Researching Mary Shelly's life and trying to get a good understanding of her and her surroundings when she wrote that novel gave me a lot of insight. She wrote Frankenstein when she was 18 years old - it's staggering that she wrote that novel as a teenager. Her mother died when she was 11 days old due to complications from childbirth. She lived in her mother's shadow and without her mother's love. Her husband died when she was only in her twenties. Her half-sister committed suicide just before Mary Shelly wrote Frankenstein. She lost most of her children if not in childbirth, in infancy. She lived a very tragic life, but a triumphant life as well. In so many ways the novel's about loss and being responsible for that loss. This monster Frankenstein destroys everything close to Dr. Victor Frankenstien; in some ways people think that symbolic of Mary herself."
Weiner says he found horror the perfect genre for The Frankenstein Theory. "Horror films, to me, have replaced Westerns in modern cinema and I love Westerns. The best Westerns, to me, are frequently allegories. And I think the same can be said in horror films.
"You can tell any story within a horror film. Godzilla was not just this fire-breathing creature. That story was birthed right after WWII when the Japanese had suffered two Atom bombs. It's a direct reflection of what had just happened in Japan. These stories that sometimes feel like just popcorn fun are operating on a couple of different levels. They are fun, but frequently there's something a little deeper going on so you have a very interesting canvas to paint on. As a filmmaker, it's enjoyable to be able to explore a lot of deep themes and ideas that we wrestle with and keep us up at night. We can tell those stories in a horror film."
The Frankenstein Theory will be released on DVD/Blu-ray on March 26.
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