A death row prisoner is put to death, then brought back to life using an advanced chemical procedure. A nutcase doctor and the convict he resurrects are at the center of “The Frankenstein Children.” The tension is turned up when the doctor hides out along with the ex-con/ex-dead man. They hold up in an isolated house where no one can discover their dark secret. The ex-con must take special drugs in order to keep from decomposing and the doctor uses the drugs as leverage to keep the con at bay. The doctor soon enlists the aid of a female colleague to expand his tests as he awakens yet another dead body, this time a fifteen year-old girl. The girl has amnesia and struggles with exactly who and what she is without any compassion whatsoever from the doctor who brought her back to the real world. The girl is only told that her name is Sally. She is covered in severe scars, her body seemingly cobbled together from other people. Sally develops a relationship with the ex-con, who takes an interest in her well being. She can barely walk and her basic body functions are slowly beginning to work. Sally has no identity and becomes fascinated by the flight of birds, so much so that she covers her favorite shirt with feathers. Ethical questions arise when a third dead boy is the next in line to be brought back to life.
“The Frankenstein Children” is a moody low-budget horror film. The stark black and white photography adds to the classic fifties monster movie feel the director Jim Zachar seems to be going for and it is effective. The primary weakness of the film is the uneven acting by what must be theater actors. Theater actors in indie movies generally never work as they tend to overact and project their voices as if there’s an audience in the back of the room that might not hear them if they didn’t yell every line. The doctor in particular is weak and his insane over-the-top rants kill almost every scene. Here’s a new word for you to learn: subtle.
In spite of its weaknesses, this is a smart genre film that avoids the conventions of the typical B-monster movies and deals with more difficult issues such as the real problems that may arise from bringing someone back from the dead. It will be interesting to see what director Zachar could achieve with a stronger cast and a larger budget. An admirable effort and I applaud independent films that attempt to explore themes outside of indie cliches like the too often seen “coming of age” flick.