Mister Creecher is delivered with dulcet tones and sombre tears... Zip on the scare factor. Nada. Nowt. Nuffin'.
Frankenstein’s creature, Mister Creecher, is a terrible thing to behold - inhumanly tall with a destroyed face that reeks of horrors unspoken and carrying a whiff of death about him – he is as unlovable a creature that ever was. And yet, a gangly street urchin, Billy, finds some way of penetrating the vile shell and seeing the man within… at least that is what he convinces himself. In truth, it is their mutual need for each other that forges an uneasy alliance, which over the months of travelling together becomes more like a friendship of sorts; a friendship that is tested time and time again… to breaking point, from which neither escape unscathed.
Written with a boyish enthusiasm that stems from an abiding love of ghastly tales; Mister Creecher draws inspiration from Shelley’s Frankenstein and attempts to rationalise the creature’s actions. The pull of promised companionship is all consuming for Creecher; his moral compass ruined beyond recognition as he struggles to get what he needs from a world that doesn’t want him. The portrayal of Victor Frankenstein as unyielding and narcissistic runs in parallel to previous depictions of the questionable scientist, but it is the boy’s relationship to Creecher that is the heart and soul of the book.
Priestley writes with equal measures of gleeful violence (although the squishing of human heads has never seemed so dull) and glimpses of humanity; the real consequence of the character’s actions leading them inextricably towards their disparate ends. But I cannot excuse the crude attempt to blend Frankenstein’s story with Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist. It feels sloppy and left me with a scowl on my face. I expected something innovative, some new twist to the monster’s story, anything but the desolation of a friendship torn apart and cast away like an unwanted birthday present. And we are left to suppose that the tale is one of journeying: the rise and fall of the bond between boy and monster; the eventual eclipse of their individual desires that corrodes their relationship. The parting shot is one of role reversal: where the boy becomes a monstrous man, which whilst hardly good, doesn’t exactly negate the sense that the novel somehow missed its mark. Neither frightening, nor harrowing, not creepy, or gruesome – Mister Creecher falls significantly short of being the horror story Shelley intended Frankenstein to be.
We interview C J Daugherty about Night School
- 10 January 2012