Netflix's Creature looks like a Frankenstein thriller that leans into the novel's obsession

Creature on Netflix
(Image credit: Netflix)

If you're looking for something a bit more cerebral than the average monster movie, Creature by Çağan Irmak could be just the thing. It's an adaptation – Netflix describes it as a re-imagining – of Mary Shelley's classic Frankenstein that updates the story, but looks like it won't lose track of the themes of obsession and grief of the original.

The limited series is set in Ottoman-era Istanbul and focuses on Ziya, a young and rebellious medical student. After seeing people he cares about die, his ambition is to become a famous doctor and save people from the epidemics for which there is currently no cure. Over its eight episodes it shows what happens when Ziya, in cahoots with fellow doctor Ihsan, conducts a forbidden experiment that crosses the fine line between genius and insanity with horrific results.

As you can see from the trailer below, it looks pretty interesting.

Why is this Frankenstein adaptation called Creature?

The show's title, which translates from the Turkish as 'creature', is faithful to Shelley's original too: throughout her book the creature created by Doctor Frankenstein was only ever called "the creature", "the wretch", "the thing" and other no-capitals titles designed to avoid humanizing it. And if the scientist's name isn't Frankenstein, you can't really call it Frankenstein any more. That's probably a factor.

It's hard to decide whether this show is going to be great or if it'll fall into hackneyed horror tropes, but I'm optimistic: all the pre-show publicity so far has emphasized the darker elements of Shelley's story: the grief of losing people, the hubris of believing we can cheat death, the sickening feeling of things going badly and dangerously out of control, and the horror of humans playing God. So it's a safe bet that this show isn't going to have a laugh track. 

I hope Creature is as good as it looks, because of course the real horror of the Frankenstein story wasn't the monster, the creature, the fiend or any of the other things the doctor's creation was dubbed – although the monster is often the focus of most pop-culture depictions. The real horror lived in the second half of the title, the bit that's typically forgotten or ignored: The Modern Prometheus, the man so arrogant he believed he could steal fire from the gods. In an era of accelerating climate change, autonomous weapons and other modern human-created terrors, the story is just as resonant as when Shelley first told it in 1818.

Creature will be streaming on Netflix from 20th October. 

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Carrie Marshall

Writer, broadcaster, musician and kitchen gadget obsessive Carrie Marshall has been writing about tech since 1998, contributing sage advice and odd opinions to all kinds of magazines and websites as well as writing more than a dozen books. Her memoir, Carrie Kills A Man, is on sale now and her next book, about pop music, is out in 2025. She is the singer in Glaswegian rock band Unquiet Mind.