22 March 2008 | bob the moo
Solid and effective version that was better than I expected despite a couple of flaws
Dr Victoria Frankenstein is the head of science project UX which is using stem-cell research to engineer a human heart. The project has reached this point without approval and understandably the heads of the funding to be nervous. Victoria presses on regardless, changing the project to start the development of an entire organ chain. Nobody mentions the extreme conflict of interest that exists in Victoria's young son currently dying and indeed of an entire new organ chain. When her son dies, Victoria agrees to let the project be terminated but by then the funders want it to continue on the QT. A freak lightening strike and rampant cell growth sees the experiment explode anyway, with tissue everywhere. However it soon transpires that not all organic matter has been accounted for and "something" has made it out of the system.
This film sat on my harddrive for almost six month before I got round to watching it. It wasn't that I was busy for all this time but more than the idea of an ITV drama being any good was foreign to me and I decided to watch other things instead. When I finally watched it I must admit it was almost because I felt I "had" to and did not expect much. On the contrary though the film is an effective version of the famous story that is strong in several areas. The direction avoids the usual "TV" feel that many of these one-off ITV dramas seem to have and instead is very atmospheric and dark.
It is not as smart as I would have liked and some aspects of the material seems very rushed due to the time constraints, while others are all a bit too convenient in the name of keeping things moving and limiting development time required. However these are forgivable and the film does move along well, with plenty of dramatic moments and, surprisingly dark content. A brutal child murder caught me off-guard, as did some other moments, making it feel more than an attempt to make me watch adverts (which lets be honest, some ITV one-off dramas are all about). Although they are rushed the characters are quite good, particularly the monster. What it looks like is clear but, while the film controls direct vision of it, it isn't a big deal and there is no big reveal. This helps the viewer feel like it is the story not the effects that the makers are interested in.
The cast are pretty good. McCrory leads the cast well with a solid and pained performance. I would have liked to see her given a harder character and more time to work with but regardless she still does a good job. Purefoy is not as good and he feels quite unnecessary and I think you can see this in his performance. Support is solid enough and has a few recognisable faces in there in the form of Benedict Wong and Fraser James. Bleach's Monster is well played as it has enough to be afraid of but also enough to make you believe that it is just frightened.
Overall then a quite effective version of the famous story. It has its faults in the speed it does things and the odd "convenient" narrative device but mostly it is atmospheric, dark and interesting.