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  • Writer's pictureJamie

Lisa Frankenstein - Review

Lisa Frankentein comes to us from Zelda Williams and writer Diablo Cody. It is a stupid little movie that is fun from beginning to end. The 80s self aware style is fully realised and never overstepped into boring cliches. It feels like targeted manipulation to make a film like this for me, making it so hard to criticise when I just sat and had a nice time. From production design to music choices, I was whooping and hollering. My only lack of said whoop and said holler came from the slightly lacking storyline of the film.

Lisa (Kathryn Newton) is your everyday outcast at school, the only anchor she has to social life is her sister, Taffy (Liza Soberano) who is in with the popular girls. Lisa and Taffy are step sisters, with Lisa’s dad marrying Taffy’s mum after Lisa’s mum’s death. In a classic evil stepmother getup, Carla Gugino pushes Lisa’s outcast status even further by making her home life not so fun either. Taffy stays on Lisa’s side when Lisa finds herself part of a unique home invasion after wishing on a lightning storm. She hangs around the old gravesite and has a particular favourite stone belonging to someone she becomes pretty familiar with. Known as The Creature (Cole Sprouse), shakes up Lisa’s usual life with hijinks, shenanigans and tomfoolery. The journey we’re taken on from here is one of campy 80s references and violent encounters. 

While the story is simplistic, I think it adds a lot in the way of humour and technical approach. The camera work, set design and music are all screaming 80s from the top of their lungs in every frame of the film. They use neon lights like only Riverdale has done before this one. The camera glides around the scenes in a romantic and cheesy fashion to cement the absurdity and holds for quite a while on a joke through editing to drive the humour home in a dry delivery. 

The music is present throughout, mixing needle drops of classic songs with an Adams Family-esque score to set the misty atmosphere of the film. 

Lisa Frankenstein does slot itself amongst those types of films like Adams Family, Hocus Pocus or Rocky Horror to play on the accessible horror elements while using the genre to push the bizarre in a freeing manner. 

I appreciated the casting of the film too, with Kathryn Newton completely understanding the tone of the film and playing it exactly how it felt it should have been. Cole Sprouse is a silent addition to the cast, with the occasional grunts from his corpse character but has a weird amount of heart in his portrayal of this Ferankenstein monster. Supporting roles from Liza Soberano and Joe Chrest round out the cast. However, ever scene stealing is Carla Gugino who simply cannot be stopped, she is too good and it isn’t fair.

The film is pretty surface level, not really needing to dive into the why or how for its plot, which is all intentional but I think can come across to some as maybe just a bit lazy. I found the writing to be sharp and funny enough to know that the story was relatively vapid for a reason. It's a light story that you can throw on around halloween time and escape the world for an hour and a half. It’s most likely not going to change your life but it may change your rewatch list.


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