Frankenstein’s Army will leave an impression. Not with its bare-bones narrative nor its characters but with its inventive gruesome creature designs and practical effects. Frankenstein’s Army looks great; it’s just a pity it fails in other important departments.
Set at the end of World War II, a group of Soviet soldiers in Germany receive a distress call. The commanding officer, Novikov (Robert Gwilym) makes the decision to investigate even though it will take them deeper into Germany. It’s about this time they also lose radio contact with Soviet high-command leaving some of the men to question if the distress call is actually fellow soldiers in need of help.
One soldier, a propagandist called Dmitri (Alexander Mercury) has been tasked with filming the events and it’s through him that we watch. Yes, this is a found footage horror but one that doesn’t frustrate as most often do. Although it has plenty of the usual problems.
Arriving at the coordinates they discover an abandoned church and scenes of carnage including many dead Nazi soldiers. It is then they are attacked by a monster that appears to be undead but with robotic implants. It kills Novikov before the rest are able to stop it.
Sergei (Joshua Sasse) then takes command much to the annoyance of Vassili (Andrei Zayats). This character is a bit unhinged and has a temper, something that comes out in full force when a caretaker comes across the soldiers. He ends up torturing the man for information who then leads them deeper into the building and the catacombs below. He ends up leading them into a trap where they are attacked by all manner of imaginative zombie/robot hybrids.
They manage to escape and this is where Dimitri reveals himself to the survivors. He is their commanding officer and coming to this place was the plan all along. He faked the distress call and jammed their signal so they couldn’t contact Soviet high-command. His mission is capture or kill the Nazi scientist behind the monsters and by threatening the families of the remaining soldiers he forces them to come along.
Who is the Nazi scientist? Only Dr. Viktor Frankenstein (Karel Roden), a descendant of the original Victor Frankenstein.
It’s absurd really but not played for laughs. Frankenstein’s Army plays out like a serious film even when the imaginative monsters come out to play. As stated above, they are the highlight alongside the squeamish gore effects. Mixing gruesome imagery with steampunk elements, they really light up the screen and you can’t help but feel excited about each ones introduction.
It’s fun, it’s goofy, it’s a good time, so much so that the thin plot and more ludicrous twists and turns can almost be forgotten. It’s a pity that it is a found-footage movie though as it utilises a few too many of those tropes. The gimmick doesn’t add anything to the film so it just seems unnecessary.
I like the imagination used here. Taking the Frankenstein story and making it a visual treat. It’s a very gory film and the practical effects really shine. On that basis alone it’s worth a watch, just don’t expect a satisfying story.