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Victor Frankenstein review: A Gothic horror show


Odd couple: James McAvoy and Daniel Radcliffe

Odd couple: James McAvoy and Daniel Radcliffe

Odd couple: James McAvoy and Daniel Radcliffe

In her 1818 novel Frankenstein, Mary Shelley paints a vivid portrait of a wretched monster, whose "unearthly ugliness rendered it almost too horrible for human eyes". Scottish director Paul McGuigan's clunky reworking of the Gothic masterpiece, from the perspective of Frankenstein's assistant Igor, is also a lifeless and unappealing mess.

Disfigured, snivelling Igor doesn't feature in Shelley's haunting text, but was popularised by Hollywood in the Thirties and Forties.

Daniel Radcliffe's Igor is a kind-hearted circus clown. He isn't a hunchback at all, but a victim of a nasty bulging abscess which is drained of pus in stomach-churning close-up as a centrepiece of the film's pedestrian first half.

The bond between master and much-abused whelp is one of the more interesting aspects of Max Landis' misguided and misfiring script.

Victor Frankenstein (James McAvoy) is a student at the Royal College Of Medicine. He and Igor harness the power of electricity to reanimate dead flesh.

Radcliffe and McAvoy are an awkward double-act: the former stilted and earnest, the latter wide-eyed and manic. Meanwhile, God-fearing Inspector Roderick Turpin (Andrew Scott) vows to bring down Victor for mocking his religion.

Scott verges on unintentional hilarity.

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"Something reeks here - reeks of an evil, sinful mischief," he cackles.

Lamentably, he's right: Victor Frankenstein stinks.

Two stars