Film Fanatics: ‘Lisa Frankenstein’ resurrects camp horror-comedies

These two lovebirds are slaying the game. Photo courtesy of Variety


“Film Fanatics” focuses on the latest and greatest cinema has to offer. Ranging from the newest movies in theaters to familiar favorites, enjoy thoughtful reviews that inspire further reflection or several rewatches. Read on to discover a new favorite film

Directed by newcomer Zelda Williams, daughter of legendary comedian Robin Williams, “Lisa Frankenstein” has single-handedly brought new life to the horror-comedy genre. Stacked with unforgettable characters, “Lisa Frankenstein” is frightfully fun, but the pacing makes the laughs few and far between. 

“Lisa Frankenstein” follows Lisa Swallows — portrayed by Kathryn Newton — as she explores her new family dynamic after the sudden death of her mother. While feeling lost, she magically resurrects an unnamed corpse — portrayed by Cole Sprouse — who is credited as the Creature. Together, the two rediscover the joy of living while they attempt to locate the Creature’s missing features. 

“Lisa Frankenstein” is a love letter to horror movies, taking inspiration from different eras of movie history. Paying homage to 1980s slasher horror-comedies, the movie incorporates bright, bubbly set pieces to juxtapose Lisa’s goth appearance. The hair is just as big as the body count. 

Drawing inspiration from movies like “Edward Scissorhands” and “Heathers”, “Lisa Frankenstein” blends the outcast and lovers-to-murderers tropes to create something entirely new. Additionally, “Lisa Frankenstein” tributes the great monster flicks from the early days of cinema, like “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari” and obviously “Frankenstein”. 

However, the movie’s biggest inspiration is the cult classic “Jennifer’s Body”. In fact, Diablo Cody wrote both screenplays, and she seamlessly blends the two genres together to create hilariously grotesque movies. Many fans are even calling “Lisa Frankenstein” the spiritual sequel to the criminally underrated “Jennifer’s Body”

Cody’s writing ability in this movie does not seem on par with her previous accolades. If the movie was allowed an R-rating, it could have been gorier, zanier and funnier. The jokes felt like they were holding themselves back in order to keep the PG-13 rating, and the gore was cut in order to preserve the rating. What is a slasher movie without the gore? 

“Lisa Frankenstein” is Zelda Williams’ directorial debut, and it is rare to see a debut that has such a unique and unrelenting style. She has such a clear direction in this movie. From the absurdist style to the hints of German Expressionism, Williams creates a breathtaking dream sequence towards the beginning of the movie. Audiences should be on the edge of their seats to see what experiments Williams concocts next. 

Kathryn Newton and Cole Sprouse absolutely slay in this movie. Newton completely immerses herself into the character of Lisa Swallows. Her transformation from a shy, awkward girl to a goth icon proves that Newton deserves to be considered one of the gothic greats, alongside Helena Bonham Carter and Winona Ryder. Sprouse also kills his role. He is an engaging character even though he does not say a single word. He flawlessly embodies the Creature but also manages to humanize the character, solidifying him as a worthy actor. 

While the performances were on-point, ultimately, “Lisa Frankenstein” needed more time to cook in the tanning bed. The pacing was off, with the first act feeling infinitely longer than the second and third. The story does not pick up until the Creature is introduced. Lisa and the Creature’s love story feels like it is never going to happen, but once it does, it happens too fast. Cody and the creative team needed to run this script through the wringer before starting production. 

While it is currently getting mediocre reviews on sites like Rotten Tomatoes, “Lisa Frankenstein” is a load of fun and never takes itself too seriously. It could follow in the footsteps of its predecessor “Jennifer’s Body” and become a cult classic years from now, or audiences could give it the love it deserves this Valentine’s Day. 

“Lisa Frankenstein” is currently out in theaters and will be streaming soon on Peacock


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