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Depraved - Movie Review

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Depraved (2019)

When Mary Shelley started writing her Frankenstein novel, I wonder if she knew just how fluid and longstanding her masterpiece of fiction would prove to be.  Probably not, right?  I mean, that’s not the writer’s purpose.  We, the audience, are the ones who create meaning and that meaning we create is truly a deeply personal thing.  However, when it comes to the morbidly curious tale of Frankenstein’s monster and one scientist’s obsession of life over death (without properly educating his creation on how to live the best life), well, it just won’t die.

"Depraved is a complex tale and its emotional impact resonates far after its closing credits"


And that continued blessing of life over death rolls on into IFC Midnight’s theatrical release of Depraved, starring David Call, Joshua Leonard, Alex Breaux, Ana Kayne.  This is a modern-day reimagining of the tale of Frankenstein’s monster that works thanks to the sheer amount of pathos surrounding the monster and the venomous (and self-serving) interests of drug companies.

There have been many, many adaptations and versions of this Shelley’s work of fiction, but few have the profoundly dark and the demented touch of writer and director and actor and producer and editor Larry Fessenden (No Telling, Habit, Wendigo, The Last Winter, and Beneath), who brings this morbid tale into the present day thanks to one veteran's nightmarish struggle with PTSD.

But that’s not where we start in this tale.  We first open with a love story between a young couple.  Enjoying an evening together, the two make love on the couch.  It will be this couple's last contact with each other . . . at least in this form.  Because the man is a target for a grand experiment: life over death.  Even if he doesn’t want to be a part of Adam (Alex Breaux); his will be the brain used in bringing one man’s, Henry (David Call), Brooklyn-born experiment to life. 

Henry, after serving as an army medic, is suffering from severe PTSD.  He has lost hope in humanity as it is and sets out, with the help of a nefarious benefactor, to create his own human, Adam.  Stitched together and somewhat taught the classics, Adam soon discovers that he is to hide from strangers, yet his memories (remember that opening scene) have not died and he feels something toward women; toward blues music; toward the works of Van Gogh, which – thanks to a discolored ear – he kind of resembles; and none of it clears up the confusion he has while living in Henry’s Brooklyn apartment.  Surely, the life outside of the apartment is better, right?

Maybe just one night out on the town will open up its mysteries . . . 

Depraved is a complex tale and its emotional impact resonates far after its closing credits as Fessenden brings Mary Shelley’s immortal fable fully into the 21st century and tries to help us all navigate a very shadowy world of doubt, disease, and disorder.Depraved (2019)

Fessenden is still a dark apocalyptic mystery to me and, if I am being honest, I appreciate him for that.  He’s a filmmaker who prefers to work outside of the studio system.  His films are personal and deeply moving; they also deserve a far wider cult following.  He takes horror – which often serves as a MacGuffin in his work – to higher levels by working real people and real situations into his narratives.  This elevates their intensity and renders them scary as hell; Depraved is yet another example of his genius when it comes to the handling of modern day horror.

Fessenden, regardless of the subject, makes deeply moving pictures.  He is concerned with the relationship man has to its environment and creatures therein.  And he very rarely allows for the message to dominate the medium.  All of which makes his pictures truly important works.  Depraved deserves to be seen. 

The film opens in Kansas City (and other select cities) this September at Screenland Crossroads on Friday the 13th.

4/5 stars

Depraved (2019)

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

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Available on Blu-ray

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Depraved (2019)

MPAA Rating: Unrated.
Runtime:
114 mins
Director
: Larry Fessenden
Writer:
Larry Fessenden
Cast:
David Call, Joshua Leonard, Alex Breaux
Genre
: Horror
Tagline:

Memorable Movie Quote: "I figured out how to bring them back"
Theatrical Distributor:
IFC Midnight
Official Site: http://glasseyepix.com/
Release Date:
September 13, 2019
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
No details available.
Synopsis: The legend of Frankenstein gets a provocative modern update in the stylishly disturbing new film from indie horror master Larry Fessenden. Suffering from PTSD following his stint as an army medic, Henry (David Call) now works feverishly in his Brooklyn laboratory to forget the death he witnessed overseas by creating life in the form of a man cobbled together from body parts. After procuring a brain from an unwitting victim, his creation—Adam (Alex Breaux)—is born. But it soon seems that giving life to Adam was the easy part; teaching him how to live in a dark and troubled world may be perilous. A complex, emotionally shattering tale about what it means to be human, Depraved brings Mary Shelley’s immortal fable fully into the 21st century.

Depraved (2019)

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