Frank & Zed (2020)

Frank & Zed
Director: Jesse Blanchard
Writer: Jesse Blanchard
Cast: Jerry Bell Jr., Aaron Booth, Randolph F. Christen,Chris Henry, Johnny Huang, Brian McKann, Jonathan McLain, Timothy Morse, Sam A. Mowry, Steve Overton, Daniel Rhovan, Jason Ropp, Mandy Stockholm
Part of: Secret Society Screening at the SLASH Film Festival
Seen on: 3.10.2021

Frank and Zed are the sole remaining inhabitants of a castle that is slowly falling apart, and strictly speaking, they aren’t even alive. But they do have their routines that ensure their continued existence. In a nearby village, rumors and myths about the castle abound and prove fertile ground for a magistrate to satisfy his power urges, leading the villagers, as well as Frank and Zed into the prophesied Orgy of Blood.

I have to admit that watching puppets in a gore film (what the director dubbed puppetcore) is a fun idea and the execution was very impressive. Narratively, though, the film is a little thin, leaving the impression that there is not much to it apart from the puppetcore idea.

The film poster showing Frank holding an axe and a decapitated head, and Zed holding his own decapitated head with the brain sticking out.

Let me say this first, because it really is astounding: the craft that went into this film is brilliant and very obviously a labor of love. Watching the painstakingly created and detailed puppets, and the sets (both were much bigger than I thought at first – during the credits there is some behind the scenes footage that is definitely worth watching) is simply fantastic. And the practical effects show a level of ingenuity that is really impressive, too.

The film was screened to gether with Shine, the first puppetcore film (a short) and there is a small note at the beginning of the film about how long it took to make the short, and how long it took to make the feature. While I can’t remember who long it was exactly, it took them quite a while, and the commitment to the puppets and the concept is present in every frame.

Zed holding up his hand.

I couldn’t shake the impression though that amid all the puppets and the gore, the story fell a little short. Frank and Zed were the only characters to which I got a really emotional connection and their friendship/love was really sweet. But other than that, I just didn’t really care much about any of the characters or what was going on.

That meant that once we got used to the concept, the film didn’t have much left to capture your attention and I found myself drifting off. But I have good hopes that the next puppetcore film will pay a little more attention to its story and won’t spent its entire attention on the technical stuff, and then we’ll have a really good film. Meanwhile, this film was pretty okay.

The villagers ready to attack the castle.

Summarizing: cool idea, but lacks story.

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