Lisa Frankenstein movie review (2024)

At least on paper, “Lisa Frankenstein” promised a deliciously twisted flavor with the goods to finally become the next timeless teen flick on this side of the ‘20s. For starters, it’s an intriguingly genre-bending horror-romance-comedy mash-up written by no other than Diablo Cody, a scribe peerlessly tuned into the feminine rhythms of both teenage girls and adult women (considering “Juno” and “Young Adult”) with humor and insight, as well as the scribe of the fiendishly off-kilter flesh-and-blood pleasures of “Jennifer’s Body.” Then there is director Zelda Williams (the daughter of Robin Williams) making her feature debut, a talent raised in the world of comedy. And, finally, we have the wonderful Kathryn Newton (of the aforementioned “Blockers”) in the eponymous role, a reclusive, ’80s-era goth girl in Madonna outfits who falls in love with an uncanny creature from the grave and sassily goes off the deep end.

Considering all these earthshattering assets at its disposal, it’s such a bummer that “Lisa Frankenstein” doesn’t quite work on any level—not as a comedy, or a coming-of-age flick, or an outlandish love story, leaving us craving for a lot more of each bloody dish it serves up. The blame should be split evenly between the script and direction here, with the former not pushing it boldly enough in any direction, and the latter merely matching the story’s timidity on the screen with flat visuals lacking a sense of witchy magic.

The tale follows the peculiarly named Lisa Swallows, a misfit who witnessed her mom get barbarically slayed by an ax murderer, only to see her dad get married to the intolerant Janet (Carla Gugino) in the tragedy’s wake. Now, Lisa just spends her days avoiding her popular yet kindly cheerleader stepsister Taffy (Liza Soberano) and daydreaming at a nearby cemetery, wishing that she was with the dead occupant of her favorite grave decorated with an old-timey bust. When she makes that wish all too literally after suffering much cruelty in the hands of her school crush and her predatory lab partner, let’s just say that the corpse misunderstands Lisa’s bidding, abandoning his coffin to join her in the land of the living.

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