Teen Girl Meets Ghoul Love Story in Lisa Frankenstein: Our Divalicious Review!

By   |   February 12, 2024   |   Entertainment
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DivaGals movie critic Caroline Cao reviews the new comedy-horror, Lisa Frankenstein

Lisa Frankenstein is a likable film. It’s also Diablo Cody’s screenwriting comeback since the underrated Jennifer’s Body. That said, it’s not without its blemishes in plotting.

Lisa Swallows (Kathryn Newton) is no ordinary girl living in a suburb that demands ordinariness. She’s bored. Her perky stepsister Taffy (Filipino American star Liza Soberano) tries to structure her life with the best intentions. Lisa has to deal with an evil stepmother (Carla Gugino, having a ball) who dominates their family life. She has no connection or joy in her high school life, especially being seen as prey by lecherous nerds and kids who find her weird. Lisa would rather hang out by an antique gravestone, communing with the dead. She also has a favorite tombstone that carries the remains of a Victorian bachelor.

But her life changes drastically one night, as an eerie storm magically resurrects the corpse from her favorite tombstone, giving her a zombie love who might understand her, in the form of Cole Sprouse, or help act out her deep impulses. Like E.T., she must conceal him away from prying eyes. 

Lisa Frankenstein is the directorial debut of Zelda Williams, who is quite playful with the animation sequences. The stars also aligned for the leads, the moping Newton and the longing Sprouse. Newton captures teen messiness, letting her be equally tender and fierce. Meagan McLaughlin also deserves a campaign for Best Costumes, with a wardrobe that fleshes out Lisa’s fashionable Gothiness. 

Sprouse performs especially stellar here in a role that limits his expression, yet his eyes suggest a yearning beyond his dirt-crusted face (in an ingenious progression: a tanning bed makes him look more human). In other hands, the zombie would have come off as vacant. But a quiet passion stirs in Sprouse whenever his new lady love is distressed by a living mortal. 

Lisa Frankenstein drags when figuring out its build, filling up the runtime with meandering antics before a kicker third act. But it will have an audience and may rise to a cult classic status. And that may be that’s fine enough.

Lisa Frankenstein, now playing in theaters.

photo credit: Michele K. Short/Focus Features

Filed Under: Entertainment
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