Written by: Matt Molgaard
I’m not sure how it happened, but somewhere along the way, in the last few years Nazi zombies have grown quite popular. Outpost turned the world onto these abominations, continued the trend through a trio of flicks, and Dead Snow worked as wonderful support (keep an eye out for Dead Snow 2: Red vs. Dead, headed our way soon). Now we’ve got another Nazi zombie flick on our hands, Frankenstein’s Army. What separates Frankenstein’s Army from the aforementioned brands? Well… the pic utilizes a found footage approach… that’s about it, really.
The found footage format isn’t what I’d deem an evolutionary advancement for the undead Nazi. In fact, it feels quite far from believable, which is typically the intent behind filming handi-cam style. Perhaps it’s the fact that I wasn’t anticipating a mockumentary/home vid style piece from a story that takes place sometime (presumably near the conclusion of) during World War II. Whatever the reasoning may be, this one caught me by surprise, and I’m not entirely convinced being caught off guard was a good thing, in this instance. But hey, if you’re going to push another Nazi zombie film, given all the others out there already, most of which were quite recently released, you’d better attempt to do something out of the ordinary.
Richard Raaphorst makes an attempt at the switch with the 1st person view, but it isn’t enough to truly bolster the pic. And, for the record, the movie isn’t necessarily bad, it’s just not great. And it certainly isn’t special, or elevated by the not-so-unique POV approach. That said, it’s better than a number of found footage flicks to hit the market in recent memory. Movies like Skinwalker Ranch and The Dyatlov Pass are nowhere near as entertaining, even if there may actually be more substance to those stories. In that regard – the pure entertainment angle – Raaphorst is successful. On all other fronts, he’s just cruising.
Some of the vile doc’s creations are awesome, some are extremely strange and some are outright laughable (there’s a streak of cruel humor in the film, and these goofy freaks work reasonably well with the comedy). I dug the majority of the performances. No one drops the ball which is nice, however not all shine as much as Andrei Zayats (who plays Vassili), Joshua Sasse (Sergei) and Karel Roden (the mad doc, Viktor), who keep the movie moving forward. These three really light up the screen, ultimately empowering this indie piece significantly.
Did I mention the special effects are surprisingly refined? Yeah, another positive to counter the pic’s problems.
Frankenstein’s Army, at the end of the day is an okay movie, and nothing more. There’s a sense of transparency to the production that travels a long way. No one is pretending that this is a groundbreaking piece of work. In fact, Raaphorst is willing to crack a few jokes and go just far enough overboard to give away what could be a subliminal wink. We get it. He delivers, and we see it. There’s no pretending. For that, Frankenstein’s Army earns big praise. Unfortunately it feels like a lost addition to the Outpost franchise, and that hurts a bit. If originality means nothing to you, give this one a go. You should find yourselves entertained.