Depraved comes to us by way of genre staple writer/director, Larry Fessenden. It also happens to be the first film he has completed in 5 years. All hyperbole aside, I’ll gladly wait another 5 years if his next work is even half as exceptional as Depraved. Here’s why.
The film is a nuanced interpretation of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein set in modern day New York. Stylistically, it has a fairly muted color palette juxtaposed against beautifully colored overlays of synapses and brain function. This can seem excessive at first, but it becomes a non-verbal means of expression from our “monster”, Adam; played impressively by newcomer Alex Breaux. Additional standouts include David Call, Joshua Leonard, and Chloë Levine who (next to Breaux) gives the most emotionally demanding performance–especially considering how little they both actually speak.
Depraved is extremely successful in both modernizing the narrative and avoiding the “monster in all of us” trope. Rather, this is a subversion of that concept and realistically makes every character fully accountable for their actions/inaction. It’s visually remarkable and emotionally devastating twist on the literary classic that replaces the “mad scientist” with a damaged war veteran determined to retroactively save those that he lost on the battle field. It’s a startling sentiment to consider, and the themes addressed will stay with you long after viewing.
What Luca did for Suspiria, I believe Fessenden has done for Frankenstein. It’s easily one of the best (and to me definitely the best) adaptions of the source material ever atempted. We’ve always known the “how”, but there’s never been such a visceral exploration of the “why”–and that’s Depraved’s greatest strength. The reason for doing something so horrible never stays the same, and the journey is just that. So here’s to a new world of Gods and Monsters. Check this one out at soon as you can.
Depraved made its world premiere at the 2019 What the Fest!?. A wide release is expected later this year.
‘Depraved’ is an Emotional and Visually Remarkable Twist on Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein [Review]