By Curt Wiser
Mary Shelley’s Gothic classic Frankenstein has been retold so many times, it is hard to find a new and interesting way to retell it. With Depraved, they have found a reason to resurrect this story, even now on its 200th Anniversary (well, it’s been close to 200 years).
Depraved follows Henry, a field surgeon played by David Call who makes a man out of various body parts and brings the creature to life in a Brooklyn Loft.
The new twist they put on this 2019 adaptation are the military elements and the motivation which drives Henry to create life from scratch. I would not want to spoil these differences by elaborating on them here.
This movie is well crafted, much to the credit of Larry Fessenden (“Beneath”, “Habit”), who wrote/directed/produced and edited Depraved. I must admit that I have been a fan of his work for many years now.
Through his production company Glass Eye Pix, I was first taken by their horror/dark comedy Bitter Feast, and have continued to enjoy other productions such as Body, Like Me and their low budget indie take on Jaws called Beneath. I urge genre fans to look at what Glass Eye Pix is doing, and has done for years.
The cast is rounded out by Alex Breaux (“Bushwick”, “The Blacklist (TV)”), who plays Adam, the name Henry gives his creation. Breaux feels like he was made to play this part, with his tall, athletic presence and innocent, clumsy demeanor. Much of the movie’s humor comes from the awkward way Adam navigates through this new world he wakes up in.
I fully believed every stitch of this creature as soon as Adam appeared on screen. This is thanks to the superb prosthetic work from the special effects team on Depraved.
Joshua Leonard (“The Blair Witch Project”, “StartUp (TV)”) plays Polidori, the reckless business partner who bank rolls Henry’s experiment. Leonard and David Call are very convincing as these two war veterans with very opposing viewpoints.
Much like the creation of Adam, the true value of Depraved is the sum of its parts. The intriguing dream sequences and composited visual effects caught my attention early on. The emotionally charged acting reminds us that this is a tale worth telling over the centuries. Unique editing and film making techniques kept me interested throughout the narrative. Depraved is a unified vision from Larry Fessenden, his cast and crew. A well executed patchwork of style and tone.
The New York setting was used to great effect, which we would expect since Fessenden was born in New York City. Also, do not let the title fool you, Depraved in not a slasher or hard core horror film by any means. It stands up well as a thriller, with drama and a love story mixed in.
In a strong piece of writing, some parts of Adam’s body has a history which lingers. The only negative I can find was the lack of conflict in the first half of the story, but this kicks into high gear near the end when action builds and the stakes are raised.
With a total run time of 1 hour and 54 minutes, Depraved did not feel that long, which believe me says a lot these days. The best way to describe the this movie is to say, think Re-animator or Frankenhooker but it takes the subject more seriously (and I love those movies). Depraved is set to start its release on March 20, 2019 so look out for it.
Curt Wiser is the Writer/Director of the suspense movie Cam-Girl. As a filmmaker he is happy to watch and review the work of other artist.
So you are going to make a film. About football. You call it 90 minutes, for that’s how long a football game lasts. You set it on Hackney Marshes in the East End of London, a vast area of football pitches, famous for Sunday League games.
You do all of this, and then make a film that doesn’t even last 90 minutes and isn’t particularly about football at all. This I don’t really understand, much like a lot of the film.
You have two Sunday League teams going head to head on a big game, a chance of winning the league so it seems. Both sets of managers are angry, shouty, sweary geezers whilst the players range from overweight to ‘has potential’.
On the sidelines are a range of supporters; from a woman watching her man, who realises she’s not the only one watching him, to some brothers arguing over their business, to a kid who doesn’t even like football but comes along to watch his dad.
Then there’s one of the team managers wife, who works at the burger van. She’s kicked him out and is forever having arguments with her teenage daughter.
If that’s not enough, you’ve got Rio Ferdinand, who also produced the film, wondering around the pitches, filming himself on his camera, reminiscing about his playing days on the Marshes.
It’s all quite bizarre and plays out like an extended version of Eastenders, on a football pitch, which is ironic given they never mention football on Eastenders.
I’m not quite sure who I’m meant to be focussing on? The dour son, Robert Ristic (“Doctors (TV)”, “TryLife (TV)”)? Or Peyvand Sadeghian (“Song Of King Solomon”, “The Numbers”) who follows him around? Anton Saunders (“Luther (TV)”, “Downton Abbey (TV)”) the angry manager whose been kicked out? Debra Baker (“Doctors (TV)”, “Angel”), the wife who kicked him out? Jessica Collins (“Silent Witness (TV)”, “Doctors (TV)”), the angry young daughter? On and on it goes.
In the middle of all these shenanigans is the football game of which you see very little. Perhaps we shouldn’t be so surprised, writer/director Simon Baker has form with this sort of film, his previous being Night Bus, about people on a bus…at night.
There are some genuinely funny moments in 90 Minutes though, amidst the swearing and frustrating teenage angst. Waj Ali (“RED 2”, “Stan Lee’s Lucky Man (TV)”) and Waleed Akhtar (“Salmon Fishing In The Yemen”, “Tyrant (TV)”) are the two brothers, watching their brother play, who seem completely different to each other, with Ali getting more and more frustrated at his brother Akhtar. You’ll laugh at the banter, but not often enough.
Saunders gives a powerful, emotional roller-coaster of a performance, from shouty, sweary football manager to crying whilst trying to get his wife back. And Baker does handle the camera well too.
I just couldn’t shake the feeling I was watching an extended soap opera episode. It’s all a bit too eye-rollingly cringe-worthy and the laughs to far apart.
It’s a shame, as I was really hoping for a funny, British comedy about Sunday League football. Something along the lines of Brassed Off or The Full Monty, but 90 Minutes isn’t that, it’s something very, very different.
Originally published at www.ocmoviereviews.com on March 21, 2019.