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Found-footage movies tend to be cast with unknown,
unrecognizable actors for that realistic feel, but the lead in the new THE
FRANKENSTEIN THEORY will be a familiar face for many horror fans. Kris Lemche,
whose credits include GINGER SNAPS and FINAL DESTINATION 3, toplines this
Mary-Shelley-meets-BLAIR-WITCH project, and discusses it in this exclusive
THE FRANKENSTEIN THEORY, directed and co-written by Andrew
Weiner with THE LAST EXORCISM scripters Huck Botko and Andrew Gurland on board
as executive producers, and debuting on VOD and in limited theatrical release
today from Image Entertainment, casts Lemche as young professor John
Venkenheim, a descendant of a scientist whose real-life exploits, John
believes, inspired Shelley to write her classic novel. When he takes a
documentary crew with him to the Arctic to prove his theory, they wind up on
the stalking grounds of the still-living monster. It’s the first genre lead for
the Canadian-born Lemche, whose characters suffered horrible fates in GINGER
SNAPS and FINAL DESTINATION 3 as well as the early surveillance-camera shocker
MY LITTLE EYE.
FANGORIA: How did you become involved with THE FRANKENSTEIN
KRIS LEMCHE: It was a pretty typical process; I met with
Andrew Weiner through auditioning, and he was pretty specific about what he
wanted. It was kind of a long audition process, and bizarrely intimidating. The
first time I went out, he had seven pages of pretty much monologue—a lot of
talking. I met with him and did these ridiculous amounts of lines, and every
time I thought it went well, he kept bringing me back. And every time I went
back, there would be fewer and fewer people in the room, and eventually he
called me one afternoon and said, “Hey, let’s go to Alaska and make a movie.”
FANG: Other actors who have done found-footage movies have
talked about the veil of secrecy hanging over the auditions; that wasn’t the
LEMCHE: It wasn’t a top-secret kind of thing, no. It wasn’t
a case where they kept the script from me; I’m pretty sure I knew everything. I
could have leaked it all right away. If I didn’t get the part, I could’ve put
that script on-line instantly and absolutely screwed ’em!
FANG: Your character is a professor, a part that would
ordinarily be played by an older actor. Was that something that was discussed
when you got the role?
LEMCHE: Yeah, I thought it maybe should’ve been an older
actor, but that’s also my own delusion about how young I am. I think actors are
encouraged to foster this belief that you can still play a teenager, even
though I’m in my mid-30s. I still feel like a kid a lot of the time, and I
guess it’s possible that had I chosen a different path in life, I could have
actually been a professor.
For Andrew, it was never an issue; he thought it was totally
appropriate. I did ask him a couple of times whether we should do something to
make me seem older, but I believe this was part of his idea of presenting a
character who has something to prove, in terms of mimicking the Dr.
Frankenstein character in the novel—someone who is brash, maybe a little
top-heavy ego-wise and has a bit of a vendetta in terms of proving his
self-worth. His personal life has suffered from this mission he’s trying to
accomplish, and I think that’s something that happens to young men more often
than older men. He wanted somebody younger, that kind of egocentric, a little
bit crazy and wild type of person.
FANG: Did you attempt to draw specific parallels between
John Venkenheim and the novel’s Victor Frankenstein in your performance?
LEMCHE: Yeah, absolutely. My character is based on
Frankenstein in a number of ways, primarily in the sense of these people
driving themselves to a point of blindness, basically—blindness to their own
personal situation, to the moral implications of what they’re doing and to the
safety of themselves and the people around them. The similarities between those
two lie in the fact that the implications of what they’re doing are lost on
them. Those implications are kind of background noise in the face of this
all-consuming passion, which is to prove that what they know is possible is
actually possible—a kind of intellectual vindication.
FANG: How much of THE FRANKENSTEIN THEORY was scripted, and
how much were you allowed to improvise?
LEMCHE: In my recollection, almost none of it was
improvised. Especially not my character, because a lot of what I’m saying is
precise information about the Frankenstein monster. Other people might have
been ad-libbing—people who didn’t necessarily have half-page monologues [laughs].
As far as I remember, we stayed on script pretty heavily, much more so than in
most found-footage movies. I know that when you have that loose camera, you
feel can do whatever you want. Maybe sometimes there was a bit of fudging the
lines and connecting the dots when there would be a blank space, but we were
pretty solidly on book a lot of the time.
FANG: How was the experience of shooting in Alaska?
LEMCHE: Spectacular, spectacular. I loved Alaska. I’m trying
to figure out what I can say that’s not gonna just sound like a clichéd
description of Alaska, but it’s like a different universe out there. In many
ways, the people you meet are similar to anyone you could meet in Los Angeles
in terms of the fact that we all speak the same language and everyone’s eating
the same fast food and watching the same television shows. But—and I don’t want
this to sound condescending—there’s something about that place that feels very,
very powerful, and it draws a specific kind of person. It draws people who want
to be in a area that remote and challenging, or the people who were born there
have grown up in an environment that’s very remote and challenging, and it
breeds a very specific type of person.
Beyond that, just landscape-wise it’s an absolute knockout.
It’s such a beautiful place. The first morning I woke up there, I went
wandering out into the snow totally improperly dressed, wearing my hipster
peacoat and a pair of fingerless gloves when it was seven degrees outside. And
the sun was rising with the mountains in the distance, and the snow had been
kicked up to make this kind of foggy haze. It’s staggeringly beautiful. It felt
like being on an alien planet.
It was kind of a rare experience, at least for me, having
lived in Southern California most of my life. It’s strange when you cannot see
any evidence of human civilization anywhere. You’re just standing out there in
a field, and every which way you look, there’s nothing but snow as far as the
eye can see. To be honest, I feel like I would move to Alaska in a heartbeat,
if I could find something to do out there. I loved it. It’s an amazing place.
I’m from Canada originally, so I think I’ve got that snow in my bones.
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