Frankenweenie – 7
Director – Tim Burton
Cast – Charlie Tahan, Winona Ryder, Catherine O’Hara, Martin Short, Martin Landau, Atticus Shaffer, Robert Capron, James Hiroyuki Liao
Release Year – 2012
Reviewed by John of the Dead
28 years after delivering his first take on this story (in short film fashion), Tim Burton has given us the full-length adventure he envisioned for nearly three decades in Frankenweenie. Penned by one of Burton’s favorites, John August (Dark Shadows, Corpse Bride, Big Fish), this is a simple film that obviously aims to bring in the young crowd but has enough appeal to appease people of all ages (so long as they enjoy Burton’s work). Fun yet equally dark and slightly disturbing, Frankenweenie was a joy to watch and serves as an experience that can be enjoyed year-round by those who love pets that love back even more.
Young Victor conducts a science experiment to bring his beloved dog Sparky back to life, only to face unintended, sometimes monstrous, consequences.
The general story of a young boy and his dog is one many can relate to and one of the oldest story ideas out there, and it works wonderfully for this piece. After initially exposing us to the innocent and loving relationship between Victor and Sparky we are forced to watch Victor endure the horror of losing his best and only friend. Of course, the story would be nothing without Dr. Rzykruski, who demonstrates on how even when the body is lifeless you can still manipulate it with electrical current, and Victor goes Dr. Frankenstein on us and with the help of kitchenware brings Sparky back to life. No, Sparky does not return as some heinous dog with a taste for human flesh, he is the same loving and adorable dog, just uglier and constantly pelted by flies. The conflict lies in Victor keeping him a secret from the neighbors who hate Sparky and his untrustworthy classmates, but of course things eventually get out of hand when his classmates also learn how to reanimate the dead and make some horrible mistakes with the pets they chose to revive. I really enjoyed this element and laughed at the crazy critters that harrassed the townsfolk that were celebrating a large annual event. This is a PG film so you should not expect to see gore or any actual kills of human beings, but it comes with enough elements of horror to warrant this being a horror film experience.
Tim Burton does well in executing this piece, giving us his usual Nightmare on Elm Street (yes I know he only produced the film) and Corpse Bride-looking characters that have become a staple of his style of animation. His camerawork was great and I really enjoyed the sets used and felt they meshed well with the quiet, innocent suburban life Victor lives. One element I often noticed was the feel of “innocence” in the main characters, the protagonists, and I was glad to see such an element in a “horror” film. The voice performances were great and each role was properly fulfilled by the actor, with Evil Egore being my favorite. There are also plenty of laughs as well for us to enjoy. I would not call this a horror/comedy, but there was enough comic relief to keep me smiling often. The look of the creatures was awesome and despite their scary appearances Burton managed to keep a comical feel to them. I was not initially aware that the film would lack color and be shown in black/white (I never saw a trailer for the flick), but it did nothting to detriment the experience and if anything it worked well in keeping this film a simple one.
Overall, Frankenweenie is an enjoyable animated horror film that gives an experience horror fans should enjoy so long as they respect its PG rating.