Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Allow us to be frank
MONSTER! Frankenstein, ITV1, 9.00pm
We're not normally the sort to sit around making allusions of the approximate level of a someone taking a GCSE English paper, but a change is as good as a rest, we say: in the original novel of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, Victor pieces together a creature from offcuts of human flesh only to discover that it is not quite the sum of its parts and is in fact rather misshapen, ugly and volatile. Which is sort of what happens here, in this updating of the classic novel for a modern setting: some interesting ideas are thrown in, but the result is lumpy and unsatisfying.
There's an impressive cast list, to be sure (Helen McCrory, Lindsay Duncan, Neil Pearson, James Purefoy...and that's without even mentioning that it was written and directed by Jed Mercurio of Cardiac Arrest and Bodies fame) and the update works hard to be topical: Dr Victoria Frankenstein is working on stem-cell research in an attempt to grow a working human heart, because she has a desperately ill child who's a long way down the transplant list. While her attempts to save her son are unsuccessful, she does manage to grow a heart, and then figures why not try harvesting an entire human body's worth of organs, and hilarity ensues, obviously.
But for all the attempts to be relevant, it's a shame that it can't resist all the played-out horror clichés: woman is stalked by unseen, possibly malevolent, person while alone in house, random small child is killed by overcuriosity, lots of dimly-lit shots of sewers with the monster snapping necks, and so on. Perhaps with a bit more moderation of these it would've worked better, but in this form it just ends up detracting from any useful points that might've been made. It's still not a bad way to spend 90 minutes of your life, however - like we said, there are some interesting observations buried in there if you care enough to look, and Helen McCrory is great in the lead role - and even if you don't watch any of the rest of it, we strongly advise you to tune in during the final ten minutes for a clearly Bafta-worthy performance from a seagull. We'll say no more.