Star Rating:

Lisa Frankenstein

Director: Zelda Williams

Actors: Kathryn Newton, Carla Gugino, Cole Sprouse

Release Date: Friday 1st March 2024

Genre(s): Comedy, Horror, Romance, Sci-Fi

Running time: 101 minutes

Following the gruesome murder of her mother, Lisa Swallows (Kathryn Newton) tries to readjust to life. While Lisa's father Dale (Joe Chrest) has remarried to Janet (Carla Gugino) and now has a peppy stepsister named Taffy (Liza Soberano) to boot, she finds herself spending more and more time in a local cemetery, where she concocts a way to reanimate the corpse (Cole Sprouse) of a dead man from the Victorian age that she's become enamoured with...

There's a kind of gnarly humour in 'Lisa Frankenstein' that is clearly much of what's made Diablo Cody such a recognisable name, but is in itself borrowed from others. When you watch 'Lisa Frankenstein', you're reminded of movies from the likes of John Waters, John Hughes, Pedro Almodóvar, and the likes of 'Heathers', 'Return of the Living Dead', and other gross-out comedies of the '80s. It's not that 'Lisa Frankenstein' isn't aware of its influences, nor does it try to deny them. It's more that it rarely lives up to them. That said, it's not to say that 'Lisa Frankenstein' isn't fun.

For one, Carla Gugino is perfectly cast as the diabolically prissy stepmother to Kathryn Newton's goth weirdo and has some of the best comedic setpieces in the movie. Cole Sprouse, though he doesn't have a word of dialogue in the movie, commits to the physical comedy that the role requires. Not only that, Kathryn Newton throws herself headlong into the frizzy hairdos and the Curehead (well, maybe it's goth, who knows) fashion with genuine aplomb. 'Stranger Things' alum Joe Chrest plays the shlubby absent father with ease, while Liza Soberano plays the annoyingly chipper stepsister with ease.

Diablo Cody's script and Zelda Williams' confident direction gives 'Lisa Frankenstein' a chance to embrace the weirdness of it all. The choice of music is, as you'd expect, top-notch with deep-cuts from Galaxie 500 and the Romantics peppered along the way. Likewise, there's pastels and neon everywhere, with Carla Gugino's character rocking a motivational tape in a Walkman and enough hairspray used throughout the movie to open another hole in the ozone layer. Yet, for all of the period details, the enjoyable musical throwbacks, 'Lisa Frankenstein' never feels like it's living up to the sum of its parts. It's more that 'Lisa Frankenstein' is a movie trying desperately hard to be cool and effortless, when in fact it's often landing as contrived and forced.

Still, 'Lisa Frankenstein' is enjoyably goofy, with a game cast and a killer soundtrack to boot.