The found footage genre has become a cliche as it is overused to a crazy degree in Hollywood. Most found footage movies can feel gimmicky and pretentious, with many replacing originality with the genre’s simple gimmick. It typically doesn’t hold up.
This is why Frankenstein’s Army, available now on Blu-ray, actually has some charm. Here’s a film that has taken the found footage template and tried to do something different with it. For that, this movie deserves some acclaim.
Frankenstein’s Army follows a group of Russian soldiers during World War II. They are being followed by a fellow soldier with an old-school camera to send footage home in order to motivate citizens to back the war. This squad of soldiers ends up in a town where a Nazi doctor has been up to no good, and our protagonists may be about to discover just exactly what this rogue Nazi doctor has been up to.
I’ll give you a hint: it ain’t good.
If this sounds like an exploitation movie that belongs at a drive in theater then that is because it is–sort of. The film meshes different genres together with little effort. It is part found footage horror, part war movie and part exploitation flick. Heck, there’s even some comedy to go around. Now there’s a mix I certainly have never heard of.
Frankenstein’s Army uses the whole found footage angle to its advantage and never feels pretentious or stale. In fact, the film makes the found footage thing work because we never sense that this movie is like other horror flicks that use the gimmick.
For a while it feels like a war movie, and later a horror movie, and then, finally, an exploitation movie with lots of originality and charm. By moving the found footage angle into a different time (World War II), the filmmakers freed themselves from the constraints other directors fall victim to when making found footage flicks.
This film is definitely gruesome and low budget, so it’s probably only for die hard cinema lovers. Anyone with an interest in the picture will be pleasantly surprised to discover a sly little twist of a movie that has everything from monsters to Nazis to crazy doctors and giant cameras.
Frankenstein’s Army is worth the 84 minutes for any cinema lover looking for something just a little different. It is also a film other filmmakers should pay close attention to. If you’re going to make a found footage movie then this is how you gotta do it.