Review: Lisa Frankenstein

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Title: Lisa Frankenstein
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Director: Zelda Williams
Starring: Kathryn Newton, Liza Soberano, Cole Sprouse
Runtime: 1 hr 41 mins

What It Is: Lisa Swallows (Kathryn Newton) has been dealt a rough hand. Her mother was killed by an axe murderer, her father remarried, and she is very much so an outsider. Little does she know her life is about to change. When lightning strikes after a conversation with a tombstone, Lisa has found a new, zombified friend (Cole Sprouse). He’s sweet, mute, and charming, but things start getting a little complicated when the pair begin murdering people to restore his body parts.

What We Think: This movie is highly reminiscent of Heathers and early Tim Burton movies. In that sense, it definitely wears its influences on its sleeve. The setting is a bright, neon and inherently eighties. In a lot of ways, it felt like a movie ripped out of the late 80s and 90s, which I do think was the intention.

Admittedly, I was not sure what to expect when this movie started. The beginning is definitely the weakest point in the movie and even though there is some comedy, it’s more comedy that lends itself to a smirk rather than any substantial laughter. When the movie really picks up is when our zombie suitor (Cole Sprouse) comes back from the grave. Honesty the zombie is the best part of this film.Once there began to be zombie related shenanigans, I found myself very much so cracking up, because the movie was beginning to embrace its more morbid humor. The strange thing (and I suppose truly Heathers-y part) of this film is that this movie is truly a very dark comedy, which you don’t see a lot of these days. I mean that in, a lot of the most humorous moments are to be found in the most messed up moments. Very bold, especially for a movie that is PG-13. If I learned it was R I frankly would’ve been less surprised. Once zombie Cole Sprouse is on the scene and especially once the murders begin, the movie really picks up and is at its most enjoyable. It does have some very fun gallows humor and how unhinged Lisa gets throughout the movie is deliciously diabolical.

My main issues with this movie are probably with the beginning and ending. The beginning felt like maybe a little too much set up, and then by the end, it felt like we were rushing towards the finish line. It felt like there needed to be more to the third act after such a strong second. It almost felt like a substantial amount of the movie was cut out for time towards the back half, which is a little disappointing. I think with maybe a few more drafts, the script could’ve been a little tighter. The ending is satisfactory, but I definitely found myself wanting more from it and not in a good way.

Our Grade: B+, Despite some of the shortcomings of the script, I think this movie was very fun. It was bright and colorful and in terms of mainstream, non-A24 horror, it was decent. I look forward to seeing future efforts from Zelda Williams. There’s definitely good stuff in this film, it just needed some polishing.

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