Do the monster mash with James McAvoy and Daniel Radcliffe in this gothic horror comedy fantasy Victor Frankenstein **. I suppose it’s right that a film about making a human out of reconstituted body parts should itself consist of reconstituted parts of other movies, but in both cases the result is patchy and lurching.
There is some OTT entertainment to be had in McAvoy’s hysterical performance as the maverick Dr Frankenstein, baring his teeth and popping his eyes like he’s overdone it on the absinthe. The vision of Victorian London under Paul McGuigan’s direction recalls David Lynch’s Elephant Man – and indeed there’s also a reference to that film’s producer Mel Brooks, when someone actually calls the doctor Franken-‘steen’.
Instead of Marty Feldman’s popping eyes as Igor, now we have Daniel Radcliffe, as a hunchback rescued from the freak show circus to become the Dr’s assistant – but only after his hunch has been lanced of its pus, probably the film’s best moment.
There’s some other decent stuff here, but every actor seems to be working in a different film. McGuigan directed a few episodes of Sherlock – whose star, Benedict Cumberbatch, played Frankenstein on stage for Danny Boyle – and he summons up quite a few chums from it: Andrew Scott plays the God-fearing Inspector, Louise Brealey pops up at a party, and there’s the requisite cameo from the dark lord of gothic campery Mark Gatiss. But there’s also Jessica Brown Findlay as a trapeze artist called Lorelei, Freddie Fox as a feckless aristocrat and brief appearances from the likes of Charles Dance and Daniel Mays.
No one – and this should be the director’s job – can figure out if it’s supposed to be funny or scary or camp or thoughtful and the climax is the usual big budget cacophonous mess, hurried as if everyone just wants to get the hell off set and go home. A dodgy horror picture show.