Director (and writer): Larry Fessenden
Cast: Alex Breaux, David Call, Joshua Leonard, Ana Kayne, Maria Dizzia, Chloe Levine
Depraved is a 2019 American horror film about a field surgeon suffering PTSD that successfully puts together and brings a human to life.
After a sour conversation with his girlfriend, Alex leaves her apartment to go home and suddenly is attacked. When he wakes up, his brain has now been transplanted into another body with only fragments of his memory left. Now named by his maker Henry (David Call) as Adam (Alex Breaux), he needs to learn how to be human from a clean slate. His curiosity leads him to meet Henry’s partner Polidori (Joshua Leonard) who has less responsible expectations of this successful experiment.
Playing out as a modern retelling of Frankenstein , Depraved stays a lot in familiar territory. Its hard to redo a classic especially with a lot of similar elements being played out with modern day distractions. There are obvious challenges to overcome and yet, its hard to say that Depraved truly overcomes the familiar territory with enough of a twist to make it memorable. Sure, the modern take of it gives it a lot more attractions to open up the eyes of Adam, the name of Monster. A night out in town quickly takes him to experience drugs and strip clubs as starters, opening his eyes to the world outside from his contained world controlled by Henry. And no, naming him Adam doesn’t have to do with Adam and Eve. There’s something more to it.
There are two things to appreciate in Depraved. The first is Adam’s design as a character. He isn’t this bulking huge scary beast but still has his stitches and cuts to make him feel pieced together. At the same time, Adam has a past that flashes in his mind and it helps that the movie starts off with the perspective of this fellow before he is transformed into this new person. From the first moments of Adam, there is undoubtedly the character with a lot to discover because he is essentially a newborn discovering the world around him. Here is where the movie truly excels in making Adam feel more forgivable than the Creature because he is made to be more normal and the world around him in general accepts him to be that as well. Alex Breaux delivers on the roles and fits the character very well.
The second element is that the director navigates the film through different point of views. The focal character changes with the flow of the story, revealing the motives for each of them fairly seamlessly. Alex’s point of view flows into Adam and Henry and then pivots into Polidori and so on so forth. Because of this change, the story moves forward and reveals each of its elements with a smooth flow. Its a unique way to navigate this story even if its still much of the standard fare in terms of a modern retelling. At the same time, its important to probably mention that the movie is best when it is showing the Adam and Henry aka Creature and Maker interactions because these two characters have the most depth and friction in the balance of the story, making Alex Breaux and David Call the standout roles here as well.
Depraved is an okay movie. It executes a lot of elements that do make it unique in its way of telling this Frankenstein story and has a lot of merit to be discussed simply in making Adam into a different type of Creature. However, Frankenstein is a Classic and the story is very familiar and at times, while the story gives it some twists and turns to help reveal the ultimate goal of this experiment, it lacks a memorable climax. The tone is good and the execution is decent but the retelling doesn’t push itself to an exciting moment and feels rather flat. Not to mention, some of the acting leaves a little to be desired as well. Overall, Depraved has its pros and cons but it is a decent effort and if Frankenstein is a story that you enjoy, this could be one to check out for sure.