Lisa Frankenstein Review

While Kathryn Newton absolutely shines, Lisa Frankenstein is often hampered by its terrible script and awkward tone.

PLOT: A coming-of-Rage love story about a teenager and her crush, who happens to be a corpse. After a set of horrific circumstances bring him back to life, the two embark on a journey to find love, happiness – and a few missing body parts.

REVIEW: It seems as though 2023’s obsession with Frankenstein is continuing into 2024 as we get yet another version of the Mary Shelley story. But this one feels decidedly more Weird Science than the more macabre tone of, say, the Kenneth Branagh version. And with Diablo Cody behind the words, I suppose that’s not exactly a surprise. Juno took over the world and pretty much-changed dialogue in teen cinema, so expectations were high for the film. And this is her return to the genre after a long absence. But, like Jennifer’s Body, Lisa Frankenstein feels more like lost potential than anything.

Lisa Frankenstein follows the title character as she obsesses over a grave and the man buried six feet deep. He’s brought back to life and they become a chaotic couple. The story progresses in a pretty basic way, and there’s not much energy to the proceedings. There’s a lull in the middle of the film where all the quirkiness gets sucked out of it and we’re just watching a standard high school romcom for a bit. Thankfully, things get back on track eventually, but it adds to the uneven storytelling. Lisa’s motivations are all over the place and feels disconnected from scene to scene.

Cole Sprouse and Kathryn Newton in Lisa Frankenstein (2024).

Kathryn Newton has been impressive in everything she’s done to this point, and here is no different. Lisa is pretty much a Tim Burton character both in her demeanor and appearance and I was all for it. The movie is at its best when Newton is embracing the strangeness. Every time the script does her dirty, Newton makes the most of it. She’s absolutely wonderful. I love a good Frankenstein’s Monster and Cole Sprouse is great as The Creature. He pulls off some entertaining physical comedy that got a lot of laughs from my theater. The romance is a little iffy, but that’s less due to chemistry and more the awkward plot developments.

Liza Soberano is also really impressive as Lisa’s stepsister, Taffy. This could have easily been a more stereotypical role, yet they make her quite affable. Unfortunately, the writer feels the need to acknowledge it themselves, thus lessening the point of her character. Almost feels like Diablo Cody trying to pat herself on the back. Then there’s Carla Gugino who feels wasted in the role of Lisa’s stepmother. It’s stereotypical and doesn’t utilize her talents.

I had big expectations for Zelda Williams as she’s always come across as very intelligent, with an in-depth knowledge of film. And there was some stuff I enjoyed about this with the neon color scheme and fantastic costumes. But the look never matches the tone and there’s a lot of first-timer sloppiness. Most of the actors feel like they’re in different movies and there’s no real cohesiveness to the vision.

Cole Sprouse and Kathryn Newton in Lisa Frankenstein (2024).

Now let’s get into the Diablo Cody of it all. The script is easily the worst aspect of the film and there are constantly elements introduced, that don’t amount to any plot progression. I kept waiting for the earring The Creature wears to be relevant, yet despite its prominent placement, it goes unnoticed by people who should notice it. The dialogue is stale and tired and I question how it was ever a trademark of hers. The number of PMS jokes almost made me think this was written by some dude in the 90s. And she doesn’t seem to understand the Frankenstein story, making the Creature more of a homicidal maniac versus a newly formed person, unable to control his emotions, strength, and impulses.

I can’t help but look at Lisa Frankenstein and see all of the potential. Kathryn Newton and Cole Sprouse are fantastic leads and this could have easily been the Edward Scissorhands of the 2020s. And I’m not just talking about the set design. Unfortunately, the filmmakers seem at odds with the kind of film they’re making. There was a desperate need for surrealism to take over but, outside of the opening and drug-induced stupor, it’s a dull affair. While I could see this achieving some kind of cult status a la Jennifer’s Body, there’s not enough campiness.

LISA FRANKENSTEIN IS IN THEATERS EVERYWHERE ON FEBRUARY 9TH, 2024.

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About the Author

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Tyler Nichols is a horror fanatic who resides in Michigan and is always on the hunt for the next great film. When not scouring the internet for movie news, he is usually off watching something dark, writing nonsensical musings, or playing in some fantastical video game world. While horror takes up most of his time, he still makes time for films of all types, with a certain affinity for the strange and unusual. He’s also an expert on all things Comic Book Cinema. In addition to reviews and interviews here on JoBlo.com, Tyler also helps with JoBlo Horror Originals where he’s constantly trying to convince viewers to give lesser-known horror films a chance.