My Haiku Revu of Frankenstein’s Army.
Recon squad confronts,
A Nazi Midnight Meat Massacre,
More Than One Head Lost.
A found footage film set during the height of the Great Patriotic War follows a Soviet reconnaissance team behind enemy lines on a routine mission which quickly turns south after they receive an unexpected radio signal from nearby friendly forces. The soldiers led by Robert Gwilym rush to aid a group of comrades under fire, only to find a deserted town, incinerated clergy, open graves and a church repurposed into an automaton assembly line. Their Information Officer, Dimitri played by Alexander Mecury records their first contact with an inhuman foe as expectations of assistance rendered turn into a fight for survival.
After Blair Witch there have been a dearth of found footage films which both used horror as their genre piece and have been singularly effective enough to overcome the tendency to use the first person view to obscure partially rendered antagonists. Unlike some of the weaker servings, Frankenstein’s Army foregoes any pretence of camera-shake-as-mere-cover and with Quake as a model, pushed well realised half-human death machines right in your face. To call this a white-knuckle ride may be a disservice as after the various blades, drills and jaws rent their way through each viscerally pounding scene I had to prise my fingers from the arm rests of my cinema seat and take a quick breather before the next onslaught began.
The main conceit of the film saw Dr Frankenstein becoming the Henry Ford of meat based murder machines which allowed for a variety of human/weapon configurations to appear and implacably eviscerate the cast. The unflinching manner in which the team members were hacked away made this film one of the goriest seen in many years, and although I thought myself inured from such spectacle there were a few moments which gave me pause as craniums were exposed or crushed and flesh cut away. This film is most definitely not for the faint-hearted.
Karel Roden played a particularly demented Viktor von Frankenstein when finally revealed after Dimitri had wound his way through a bloody and most certainly septic assembly line. What amounts to a fifteen minute monologue from Frankenstein didn’t detract from the body horror which grew as the doctor outlined to Dimitri the fate of the remaining cast.
The first person view worked well with this film, and along with the fast pace, detailed renderings of WWII man machine maniacs, and sonically matched soundtrack have made this an easy picture to score. The only real negative for me was the complete implausibility of a very underpowered patrol going up against what amounted to human tanks and that somehow their HQ could believe that there was a chance that someone would have been alive to complete the mission. Even so I’m giving this a there-was-so-much-gore-I’m-surprised-the-screen-didn’t-develop-gangrene one thumb up.