Lisa Frankenstein | Review by: Luke Elisio
Lisa Frankenstein,” the directorial debut of Zelda Williams and screenwriter Diablo Cody’s return to the horror-comedy genre, successfully adds the occasional flourish of macabre humour and homage to 1980s comedies that viewers would expect from a movie like this, but fails to fully satisfy. Williams might not pack as dynamic a punch as say Jordan Peele or Greta Getwig did with their directorial debuts (then again they both also wrote extremely personal screenplays) but there’s nothing glaringly terrible to fault her with. It’s clear she has plenty of potential and more of an artistic vision than the average first time director. Her debut is uneven but it isn’t without promise. That being said, it’s disappointing to think about how much more entertaining and unique this movie could be in the hands of a more experienced director. The inspiration of a director like Tim Burton is all over “Lisa Frankenstein” from tone to production design, and this is exactly the type of movie Burton would have made (exceptionally well, by the way) in the early 1990s. Though it’s safe to say Burton’s movie would be far more edgy and engaging.
If you enjoy movies like, “Jennifer’s Body,” “Beetlejuice,” “Heathers,” “Edward Scissorhands” or “Corpse Bride” you’ll probably like this movie or at least be willing to give it a chance. It feels like all of those movies thrown into a blender and the result is a familiar drink that while it goes down smoothly, isn’t the most exciting. Cody’s writing is fair but it’s disappointing how this is less of a satirical take on “Frankenstein” and more of a “Warm Bodies” rip-off. It’s not very original from a screenwriter who constantly delivers unique stories. As well, the humour is much more broad and not as dark or memorable as we’ve come to expect from Cody. The premise alone, not including the LISA FRANKenstein title pun, sounds like the plot of a Disney Channel Original Movie. That’s not the only element of “Lisa Frankenstein” that feels made-for-TV. The production value is nowhere near as spooky, campy or vibrant as the premise promises, and is more in line with a Netflix original than a theatrical treat.
Kathryn Newton stars as the title character and she’s always reliable in a horror-comedy. She was fantastic in “Freaky” and her performance in “Lisa Frankenstein” is as magnificently morose. However, I couldn’t help but think how much more enjoyable this character would have been to watch had she been played by Jenna Ortega, Aubrey Plaza or even Christina Ricci in the early ‘90s. Newton shines in a cast of actors who deliver solid performances (special kudos to Cole Spouse who plays Lisa’s love interest completely mute) but the one who steals the show in “Lisa Frankenstein” is undoubtedly Carla Gugino. She’s an amazing, versatile actress who always understands the assignment. As a melodramatic, borderline evil stepmother she is the most fun to watch. Probably because Gugino gets the most biting of Cody’s signature witty lines that she performs with gusto.
“Lisa Frankenstein” is a serviceable enough movie but the uneven delivery begs the question of whether or not the Frankenstein name needed to be dug up and brought back to life.
Review by: Luke Elisio