Review: DEPRAVED Is A Modern (And Effective) Riff On Mary Shelley’s FRANKENSTEIN

FIRST IMPRESSION

Surprisingly enough, Larry Fessenden's Depraved is an interesting and satisfying modernization of Mary Shelley's classic novel Frankenstein.
Writing
Directing
Acting
Technical Merit

From fan-favorite indie horror filmmaker Larry Fessenden comes Depraved, a modern new take on Mary Shelley’s classic Frankenstein. One of the notoriously toughest works to crack, Fessenden has somehow managed to make the tale his own while preserving Shelley’s original purpose.

The movie follows a former army surgeon who, suffering from PTSD, assembles and brings to life a man out of dead body parts. If you are familiar with Shelley’s book, or any of the other film adaptations of it, Depraved sticks to pretty much the same arc. However, despite the fact that the movie is largely devoid of surprises, Fessendsen’s modern and honest touch makes it feel refreshing nonetheless.

Perhaps the only real issue with this film is that it is slightly overlong. Clocking in at just under two hours, there are a few portions of the movie that are poorly-paced (although they coincide with the parts of Shelley’s work that were slightly bloated themselves). Though the film still works quite well as-is, it could have spared to be a bit tighter.

The most impressive part of this movie is that it is able to capture Shelley’s message with a surprising amount of nuance and honesty. Frankenstein has always been about the primal fears of man, both through the monster’s experiences and the doctor’s desire to play God. Unlike any other version that has come before, Fessenden’s script does justice to both sides of the story.

depraved hand

The character development in the film is very good. Unfortunately, a majority of the past adaptations of this story have been able to recognize and portray the nuance of the monster character in the story. Adam in Depraved is an interesting character that is developed with just as much depth as the Frankenstein who creates him. The emotional arc of Adam is just as compelling and sympathetic as it was in Shelley’s novel.

Alex Breaux gives a phenomenal performance as Adam. The role requires quite a bit of range, as the character is extremely dynamic, growing in knowledge and personality over the course of the movie, but Breaux handles it with ease. Although past iterations of the character have been iconic in their own right (no one will forget Karloff’s performance), Breaux arguably does the best job of portraying Shelley’s version of the creature.

On a technical level, the film is mostly solid. Frankenstein is certainly a very ambitious story to be told on such a low budget, and yet Fessenden does a great job. Apart from a few dream sequences that are slightly over-stylized, the movie looks great. Fessenden and his crew do an excellent job of creating an eerie atmosphere through the cinematography, production design, and sound, and as a result, the film is thoroughly involving.

Although it is highly unexpected given that it is a modernization, Larry Fessenden’s Depraved is probably the best adaptation of Shelley’s Frankenstein that we have gotten so far. One of the few attempts that was able to capture both the tone and message of the story, this is an absolute must-see for any fans of classic literature.

Depraved hits theaters and VOD on September 13.

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Sean Boelman
Sean is a film student, aspiring filmmaker, and life-long cinephile. For as long as he can remember, he has always loved film, but he credits the film Pan's Labyrinth as having started his love of film as art. Sean enjoys watching many types of films, although some personal favorite genres include dramatic comedies, romantic comedies, heist films, and art horror.

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