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Review: Lisa Frankenstein (2024)

Lisa Frankenstein (2024)

Directed by: Zelda Williams

Premise: Set in the 1980s, a teenage girl (Kathryn Newton) takes in the reanimated corpse of a handsome Victorian man (Cole Sprouse). She procures body parts to repair the creature.

What Works: Lisa Frankenstein has a very specific style that might be best described as Heathers by way of the The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Much like those films, Lisa Frankenstein has a kooky sense of humor and the film is consistently funny. The production design is an exaggerated version of 1980s middle class suburban life and the sets and costumes create an embellished retro look that gives Lisa Frankenstein a cartoonish visual style that is in keeping with the pitch of the story. The performances are also consistent with that tone and Kathryn Newton and Liza Soberano and Carla Gugino create believable characters within the film’s unusual style.

What Doesn’t: Lisa Frankenstein is a hodgepodge of different tones and storylines that never come together. The film starts out quite silly, playing like a goth parody of Saved By the Bell but other parts of the film veer into serious tangents in which people are murdered. The abrupt tonal transitions are discordant but not in a way that creates an interesting contrast. The tonal zigzags are matched by scattershot plotting. The story often feels like scenes are missing. Characters show up in locations for no reason and Lisa Frankenstein suffers from significant leaps in internal logic. The storytelling lacks focus and the characters are ill defined. Everyone is superficial. The humor distracts from the flimsiness of the material but it can’t cover for the lack of motivation or depth. Lisa doesn’t have a discernible goal. She’s established as an outcast and a romantic but her desires remain vague. The creature wanders into her life virtually by chance but his presence doesn’t really fulfill a need. He’s also vacant. The best interpretations of Frankenstein feature creatures who are tortured souls which is why that story is beloved by so many teenagers. That’s not the case here. The creature is not a character at all. As a love story. nothing keeps Lisa and the creature from living happily ever after. The two of them have no romantic heat nor does the story every require Lisa and the creature to do things that would draw them together as a couple. There’s nothing at stake and the movie isn’t building toward anything. That’s especially evident in the ending. The movie just stops. It doesn’t reach a conclusion and the final actions by Lisa and the creature don’t make sense.

Bottom Line: Lisa Frankenstein is a mess. With time, the style and sense of humor might earn the film a cult following but Lisa Frankenstein pales in comparison to similar films such as Return of the Living Dead 3, My Boyfriend’s Back, and Frankenhooker.

Episode: #986 (February 25, 2024)