Quaranstein is precisely what the title implies – the story of Frankenstein, but as told by filmmakers who are social distancing and self-isolating. Hence, the title is one half “quarantine” and “Frankenstein.” Much like the monster itself, the 20-minute film is stitched together with 16 directors directing, or co-directing, the 13 scenes that go through the story proper. Plus, there are five additional directors, one of whom did the introduction and the other four helmed the music video that plays after the movie.
That equates to a grand finale of 21 directors. That essentially works out to a new director every minute, and Quaranstein certainly plays as if that were the literal case. The film is not situated as an anthology, so each scene, with its new style, is jarring. An anthology would allow the viewer to prep for a different visual approach as the wraparound interstitials play out for a minute or two.
“…the story of Frankenstein, but as told by filmmakers who are social distancing and self-isolating.”
Nor is it told in chapters, which given its literary origins, is a bit surprising. Chapter 1 would be one filmmaker’s vision, chapter 2, someone else, and so on. Again, fading to black, or turning the page to the new chapter would signify change and allow the audience to get ready for a new look, fresh faces in the various roles, and the like. But as it stands now, scenes just jump on top of each other, making for a discombobulating watch. It is all but impossible to understand the story’s flow because, as soon as you are used to one visual motif, it switches gears entirely.
Maybe if all the disparate scenes were at least of the same caliber, the plot would not feel so fragmented. But as with most anthologies, the quality varies wildly. The prologue, from Nik Morgan, is excellent. It ominously lays the stage and impact of coronavirus before discussing Mary Shelley’s well-known story. But Blake Myers’s scene 2 casts Victor Frankenstein as a surfer dude. It plays entirely at odds with the over-the-top but megalomaniacal version the earlier moments established him as. Mind you, the actor in this moment is doing well and most of the jokes land. But it does not feel like a cohesive whole. Well, that is true save for the fact that everyone aims for a comedic slant on the well-worn material.
"…aims for a comedic slant on the well-worn material."