The Prometheus Project (2010)

The end justifies the means

Writer: Sean Tretta
Director: Sean Tretta

The Prometheus Project (aka The Frankenstein Experiment and The Frankenstein Syndrome) begins with Elizabeth (Tiffany Shepis) being pursued by something in a medical research facility full of corpses and blood. Cut to two years later and Elizabeth – now disfigured and in a wheelchair – is being questioned by two FBI agents. She recounts the story of how she was part of a group conducting illegal experiments trying to use stem cells to create a ‘regenerative serum’… until things went badly wrong.

Which sounds like the perfect set-up for a zombie film, but that’s not what this is. Instead, it’s very much a modern version of Frankenstein, although that doesn’t become obvious until quite far in. In case there’s any doubt, Mary Shelly is credited in the closing credits and the main scientist is called ‘Victoria’. Oh, and the FBI agents are named Wollstoncraft and Godwin! Presumably some viewers still missed it, hence the alternative titles.

Like Mary Shelly’s novel, this film is only tangentially horror. There is some unpleasant gore near the end, but essentially this is a film about medical ethics, the nature of humanity and the dangers of playing god. In some way it’s really well done, more intelligent than many movies. Unfortunately there a couple of problems.

Most serious is the pacing and structure. The interview framing device is presumably there to allow us to skip through large chunks of early story. Unfortunately instead of making things more interesting the result is to depersonalise everything and disassociate us from the action. Even with this device there’s simply too much of the first part of the film. Rather than having an interview, Tretta would have been better off with a traditional but much reduced first half then an extended second half.

The other problem might be more personal to me: whereas the creature in the original story was a sympathetic victim, I found it impossible to sympathise with his counterpart in the film. The latter is a victim in some ways, yes, but not enough to justify his reactions.

So there is a good movie here, albeit maybe not what many people would class as ‘horror’. Unfortunately the story telling doesn’t really do it justice.