Starring: Kathryn Newton, Cole Sprouse, Liza Soberano, Carla Gugino, Joe Chrest, and Henry Eikenberry
Director: Zelda Williams
Lisa Frankenstein is like a necrophiliac mashup of Encino Man and Hocus Pocus, with Tim Burton-esque potential and an appropriate tone, but none of the charm. Maybe I am a generation removed from the target audience, but why is apathy somehow a complete substitute for humor?! The main characters end up being assholes who I couldn’t care less about, and the only good news is that you get to enjoy the first 30 minutes in a state of ignorance about its unworthiness. That’s like 30ish percent of the total runtime, so this seems like an appropriate rating…
Despite its messiness, Lisa Frankenstein is an absurdist horror comedy that is a freakin’ delight. The film occasionally falters with the basics of its own structure, but Diablo Cody's killer, zinger-filled script keeps it afloat. Kathryn Newton plays the unhinged Lisa Swallows perfectly, and there's no denying the chemistry between her and Cole Sprouse. Overall, the movie is a bloody good time, and is an entertaining experience from beginning to end. This gothic teen drama is so nostalgic for the 80s that I can't help but think it will become a cult classic.
Lisa Frankenstein has tremendous cult film potential, but I did not find much enjoyment in this movie. I laughed a bit towards the end, but director Zelda Williams ultimately couldn't balance the tone between dark and endearing. The script progresses at an unnatural pace too. On the flip of a dime, the protagonist is a completely different person with not much reason to root for her. Cole Sprouse shows off some great physical comedy, but it's now clear to me that Kathryn Newton can't act. I won't take away the fun others will have, but I just didn't have fun myself.
It brings me no joy criticizing Lisa Frankenstein, but Zelda Williams' directorial debut is a total misfire. I appreciated the campy aesthetic, and certain sequences look great; however, the energetic visuals only ever lend the film the illusion of fun since the actual script is so boring . The characters are inconsistent and unlikable, the plot is bone thin, and the “jokes” primarily consist of tired 80s references. Maybe with a charismatic lead this could’ve been salvageable, but Kathryn Newton’s floaty performance doesn’t do the material any favours. I was hoping for a good time, but Lisa Frankenstein never really comes to life.