There is a long and, in film, fairly respected tradition of misconception around certain scientific phenomenon. Radiation makes things grow really big. Spaceships can zip across the galaxy in hours. Black holes are gateways to alternate dimensions. The newest addition seems to be that stem cells, which can do pretty much whatever the story demands.
Enter The Frankenstein Experiment (aka: The Frankenstein Syndrome), the thrust of whose plot can largely be guessed from the title. A group of researchers at a secretive, privately funded institute are conducting illegal stem cell research on people. They create a serum, which through the magic of stem cells brings back the dead: all nice and cuddly until the resurrected people start to get violent.
There are definitely similarities with the Frankenstein story, but the original’s trademark intelligence and philosophical points get lost or left behind by a confused and disjointed plot. In the end, a confusing religious twist leaves a viewer scratching his head, and not in a particularly good way.
The main problem is the characters. Whoever wrote them didn’t seem to really know who these people were, and as a result they end up serving the plot rather than feeling at all like real people.
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Characters should, I believe, have defined personalities in the same way that real people do. Having characters wildly change their very nature midway through is not good writing.
Take, for example, the main character, who narrates the whole story starts off willing to break the rules to advance medical science. But then the next moment, she’s adamantly against everything they’re doing. Similarly, the ‘head scientist’ is a cold, heartless witch, until they manage to resurrect someone. This could be seen as character development, but for the fact that it happens suddenly, without any traceable ‘development’. Rather, the writer simply decided that the characters needed to be different at that point in the story.
Looking beyond its flaws, though, the foundation upon which the story is built is an interesting and well thought through idea. Indeed, it could have been a good film, if it had been more competently executed. The finished product does not cover the writer and director in glory, and the jarring final scene, out of step with the rest of the film, sums up the whole affair, really.