DEPRAVED was written, produced, edited and directed by Larry Fessenden and stars David Call, Joshua Leonard, Alex Breaux, Ana Kayne, Maria Dizzia, Chloë Levine, Owen Campbell and Addison Timlin.
Shot on the 200th Anniversary of Mary Shelley’s FRANKENSTEIN, veteran genre writer-director Larry Fessenden’s brings his unique vision of the literary classic in DEPRAVED, set in modern Brooklyn. This meditative reimagining of the novel explores the crisis of masculinity and ideas about loneliness, memory and the subtle psychological shocks that shape us as individuals.
Alex (Owen Campbell) leaves his girlfriend Lucy (Chloë Levine) after an emotional night, walking the streets alone to get home. From out of nowhere, he is stabbed in a frenzied attack, with the life draining out of him. He awakes to find he is the brain in a body he does not recognize. This creature, Adam (Alex Breaux), has been brought into consciousness by Henry (David Call), a brilliant field surgeon suffering from PTSD after two tours in the Mideast, and his accomplice Polidori (Joshua Leonard), a predator determined to cash in on the experiment that brought Adam to life. Henry is increasingly consumed with remorse over what he’s done and when Adam finally discovers a video documenting his own origin, he goes on a rampage that reverberates through the group and tragedy befalls them all.
The opening scene of Depraved shows Alex and Lucy parting ways and maybe it’s not on the best of terms. The next thing we see is Alex being viciously stabbed multiple times in an alley and waking up in on a makeshift operating table in a warehouse where he has no memory of his former life. When he looks in the mirror he sees a horribly scarred figure that’s been stitched together. This is when Henry introduces himself and names the figure Adam. The two quickly form a close bond as the creator slowly teaches his monster the basics and then a few other characters are introduced into the mix.
Polidori is Henry’s “partner in crime” and doesn’t really have Adam’s best interest at heart, so much so, he becomes trouble. While Adam is experiencing life at a rapid pace and remembering some of his past, Henry’s own traumatic experience from the war haunts him and has left the talented doctor scarred on the inside. This becomes a major issue for Polodori because the two aren’t on the same page when it comes to Adam who finally discovers his own shocking origin. This changes everything for everyone involved and now the experiment becomes a fight for survival for all parties. – especially Adam who now wants revenge.
Okay, we’ve gotten plenty of Frankenstein movies over the years and some that even tried to give the classic story a modern-day take but what Larry Fessenden has delivered is easily the best of these modern-day attempts and he did it on a shoestring budget. This impressive slice of indie cinema is not only the best modern-day take on Frankenstein but it adds just the right amount of flawed humanity and humility to it as well as real world problems – like PTSD. Even though Depraved does fit into the horror genre because of some of its graphic content like body parts, blood and gore, it’s also plays like a dramatic character study that focuses on the relationship between the monster and its creator as well as a love lost story that’s playing out in the background.
Depraved is more of a father and son or brotherly relationship because Henry has to reteach Adam so many things about life while bits and pieces of Adam’s memory quietly resurfaces. There’s also some troubling outside interference that comes into play that these two characters end up having to deal with. Needless to say, not everyone deals with these problematic situations the right way but that’s what being human is all about – right?
Bottom line is,, Larry Fessenden has taken Mary Shelley‘s classic story and created something fresh for the cinephiles out there to hopefully enjoy and appreciate as much as I did. He definitely made the best out of this ambitious micro-budget production and the proof is on the screen. The small cast also did their part because all of the characters are interesting – especially the two male leads. Something else that stands out in the movie are the fantastic makeup effects that help in creating the heavily scarred monster. All in all, I’ll go ahead and check this one off as an instant classic because this modern-day Frankenstein story has a lot of heart and is Fessenden’s best work to date.