Lisa Frankenstein Review

REVIEW: Lisa Frankenstein

Lisa Frankenstein is the feature film directorial debut of Zelda Williams, daughter of Robin Williams. This, along with a screenplay by Juno writer Diablo Cody and an entertaining trailer, gave Lisa Frankenstein a lot of potential that sadly didn’t quite shine through.

After a quirky animated title sequence featuring a young man unlucky in love dying alone, the film opens in 1989 with Lisa Swallows (Kathryn Newton), who spends most of her time hanging out in the local cemetery. Her mother was horrifically murdered a couple of years earlier, and she now lives with her father (Joe Chrest), her awful new stepmother Janet (Carla Gugino) and stepsister Taffy (Liza Soberano).

Lisa Frankenstein Review

Taffy drags Lisa to a party, where Lisa admits she has a fondness for a particular grave in the local cemetery, the one belonging to the unnamed young Victorian man. Later at the party, after being drugged and sexually assaulted by her lab partner, Lisa runs off to the cemetery, where she expresses her desire to be with the young man. After she leaves, a bolt of green lightning hits the grave and brings the young man back to life as an undead zombie credited as ‘the Creature’ (Cole Sprouse). 

Lisa Frankenstein Review

The next evening when Lisa is home alone, the Creature breaks into the house. Despite being afraid, Lisa soon realises he isn’t going to harm her and instead invites him to live in her closet. He’s mute and missing a few body parts, and wants Lisa to help him become whole. Lisa then discovers her new friend has a murderous streak and will do anything to restore his body, and despite initial reservations, Lisa soon begins to assist him, even utilising Taffy’s temperamental tanning bed as a means to electrocute the creature to fully attach his new parts. As the pair bond, anyone who has wronged Lisa soon falls foul of the Creature’s murdering ways, even her own family. 

I saw the trailer for this film and thought it looked really entertaining and amusing, but unfortunately, it was anything but. The film has a great 80’s setting with some pretty fabulous costumes and the music is exactly what you’d expect from something set in the ’80s, but aside from the ’80s vibes, the rest of the film feels incredibly dull and boring. It isn’t funny at all, I don’t think I laughed once and all of the jokes fall flat. It’s almost like it’s trying too hard to be funny and fails, even throwing in a Rocky Horror reference with the character Janet didn’t hit the mark. The mixture of genres doesn’t help matters, the horror, comedy and coming-of-age narratives just seem to clash, resulting in the film not quite knowing what it’s meant to be and floundering in everyone. 

Lisa Frankenstein Review

It’s unfortunate here that the cast can only do so much with the material and direction. After a fantastic turn in 2020’s Freaky, Kathryn Newton could have been phenomenal in this and there are hints of it, but ultimately she can only do so much with such a haphazard and unexciting script. Cole Sprouse does the best, managing to inject a surprising amount of life and fun into a mute, undead character, making the Creature really quite sweet, likeable and enjoyable to watch. It’s just a shame the rest of the film can’t live up to the potential that these two and the rest of the cast offer. 

Lisa Frankenstein certainly had potential and some inspired casting, but the jumbled mash-up of genres and lacklustre script left it ultimately lacking.

Where to Watch

Lisa Frankenstein | March 1, 2024 (United Kingdom) 6.1


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