Mary Shelley’s horror gothic fiction, Frankenstein, has been adapted several times in both literature and cinema. Over these years, the good old tale of humanity’s quest for supreme greatness turning into its misfortune has been presented in many forms and stories. Netflix’s Turkish drama Creature is the latest addition to the mythos. While the Turkish drama is a decent adaptation of the classic gothic series, it plays a more dramatic card, trying to make us extra sentimental. But the effect is the opposite, and as the show progresses, it comes across as repetitive and somewhat boring. Unfortunately, more than anything, it’s the first episode that really fails the show, making it out to be some sort of dramatic horror epic but later turning into a story for children. The first episode is dark and dreary, making for a non-compelling beginning to the series that follows.
The series follows a man named Ziya, a scientist in Ottoman-era Turkey who is eager to discover new ways of conquering death. On his journey of curious discoveries, he meets a professor with similar interests, and together they create something unimaginable. What follows is a story of endurance, monstrosity, love, and pain. The thing that makes Creature interesting is the cultural response to the story of Frankenstein. There is an overwhelming amount of moral lessons the show tries to throw at the viewer, which makes it feel like a life lesson rather than something to watch for entertainment. Additionally, the series, marketed as a horror show, is pure drama. The only “horrifying” elements are the visions of cholera and the Creature‘s features. Overall, it comes across as a tragic romance, like Beauty and the Beast or Romeo and Juliet. The series uses practical effects and makeup for most of its runtime, and it works well. Some scenes are definitely hard to watch, and I’d warn you if you’re prone to squirming.
Creature is definitely not unwatchable. It has the elements of something great, but it’s these same elements coming together that fail it somehow. The series doesn’t tread too far from the original Frankenstein, and apart from some cultural references, setting, and religious elements, there isn’t really anything surprising if you’re familiar with the original story. Ziya’s character is an obnoxious one, though, and there’s honestly nothing to like about him. His stubborn curiosity and repulsive arrogance make for a terrible protagonist, and it’s hard to believe why so many people would be so interested in hearing what he has to say. His love interest, Asiya, seems to be a feminist character, but at the end of the day, her role is redundant too. Professor Ihsan and Hamdi are the most interesting characters in the series, who have well-developed character arcs, and honestly, we’d love to have seen more of Hamdi. Visually, Creature’s bleak colors and set-up make for a great viewing experience.
What is unfortunate is that, even with some good, the series is quite forgettable. It feels as if the emotional elements are plastered on the face of the series to make it heartfelt, but it only comes across as fake and overacted. Director Çagan Irmak’s attempt is decent, but it is washed over by the extra effort made to make this series much more than it actually is: a story about humanity’s many vices. The eight-episode series takes much too long to establish its main storyline, and many people may give up in the first two to three episodes. By the time the series gets somewhat interesting, it changes gears to an emotional exploration rather than a sci-fi or fantasy one, leaving us confused. The pacing of Creature is haywire, and so it’s hard to pay attention until the last part of the show.
The world-building of Creature is what makes it entertaining. Perhaps what fails Creature is the fact that it is a story that has been adapted so many times. Additionally, the original is so deeply impactful that it is hard to capture the essence of it when trying to marry too many modern concepts to the original.
Creature tries hard to be a socially impactful series, and to be fair, it does a decent job at that, but it is just the overwhelming amount of moralizing that the series is depicting that makes it uninteresting. Maybe it is also the fact that everything feels overexplained when there is no need, and the series could’ve been tied up in 6 episodes or less. The score of the series adds to the melancholic nature of the whole thing, but at some point, it feels like too much. If you want a cultural series as a background watch and have a liking for Turkish shows, then I’d say you can give this one a go. Otherwise, it might feel like a waste of time. The show ends in a satisfying manner after 8 episodes of waiting, but again, it is the over-sentimentality that lets it down. At this point, one is left wondering how someone could be so invested in Ziya’s actions (without giving away any spoilers) and feel so deeply for him. There is some nudity, profanity, and violence in the series. A warning for those who find it hard to view burn marks.
I’d give Creature a personal score of about 2.5 out of 5 stars. In terms of horror, I would give it about 2, mainly due to some of the horrifying images presented for extra effect. Overall, I’d say if you watch it as a romantic tragedy, it might feel more appropriate. If you’re going in search of something scary or unique, then I would say steer clear of Creature.