Lisa Frankenstein (2024)


Zelda Williams


Kathryn Newton - Lisa Swallows

Cole Sprouse - The Creature

Liza Soberano - Taffy Swallows

Henry Eikenberry - Michael Trent

Joe Chrest - Dale Swallows

Carla Cugino - Janet Swallows

Genre - Horror/Romance/Comedy/Supernatural/Zombies

Running Time - 101 Minutes


In 1989, a misunderstood teenager has a high school crush — who just happens to be a handsome corpse! After a set of playfully horrific circumstances bring him back to life, the two embark on a murderous journey to find love, happiness…and a few missing body parts along the way.


While I think this film tries a bit too hard to be a cult film in about five to ten years like a HEATHERS or even a JENNIFER’S BODY, 2024’s LISA FRANKENSTEIN still manages to mostly be a fun time despite its uneven tone and lackluster final act that falls apart in every way. While the narrative doesn’t always work and doesn’t really capitalize on the Frankenstein concept all the way, Diablo Cody’s script is what one would expect from it - amusing quips, some memorable off-the-wall dialogue, and a sense of fun even if the comedy doesn’t land like she would want it to. The characters are all quirky and live in their own 1980s universe, making the film watchable despite not getting much out of it besides nostalgia for that time.

I was expecting more of a Frankenstein type of story, like 2002’s MAY for example, but a bit more lighthearted. Instead, LISA FRANKENSTEIN is less a horror film but more of a zombie rom-com for teens and young adults. While I think 2013’s WARM BODIES handles this kind of tone better, LISA FRANKENSTEIN does have interesting character arcs and twists [as predictable as they are] that keep it somewhat engaging for its 101-minute runtime. Watching Lisa transform from a mousey and grieving teen to a goth princess who enjoys the power of murder to give her Creature love interest body parts he’s missing since he died centuries prior is a fun time and brings a lot of life to what could have been a one-note narrative. While I wish the film had more tension and some darker moments of making one feel uncomfortable, the rom-com aspect [which could have been stronger] still manages to satisfy due to the chemistry between the two main actors.

Zelda Williams’ direction [her first feature, by the way] is hit-and-miss. When Williams wants to be dynamic and show some visual flair, mainly through fantasy sequences that really add a ton to the story, it makes me interested in what Williams could really do with a better script in her next feature. When things get a bit slower, the film is not as visually impressive but still shot well enough to leave a small impression. The lighting, in particular, is used really well. In particular, the scenes involving a tanning bed in a garage really make great use of neon colors that enhance the 1989 setting. Plus, I thought the use of certain songs - like When In Rome’s “The Promise” and Kathryn Newton’s take on REO Speedwagon’s “Can’t Fight This Feeling” are visualized really well and put a smile on my face. Zelda Williams' first film isn’t a total winner, but it does prove she has a voice and it’ll be interesting to see what she takes on next.

What really saves LISA FRANKENSTEIN is the cast. I think this film has Kathryn Newton’s best performance as Lisa Swallows, an awkward teen who just grows more confident with power as the film rolls along. I liked her a lot in FREAKY and thought she was just okay in ANT-MAN & THE WASP: QUANTUMANIA, but Newton really showcases her talent here. She’s always game for anything, using her big eyes and facial expressions to give a lot of depth to a character that could have just been a cliche. I would like to see her do more like this one in the future because she does have some nice comic timing.

Cole Sprouse is also very good as the Creature. He has a harder role to pull off since he barely has any lines of dialogue and mainly has to give a physical performance to convey what the character is going through as he’s revived from the dead and starts to have a life again with Lisa. Sprouse and Newton have great chemistry despite the lack of dialogue, making you root for them within this strange and quirky world they live in.

The only other actors of any note are Liza Soberano and Carla Cugino. Soberano plays Lisa’s stepsister Taffy, a popular girl who could have been totally mean to the more introverted and less popular Lisa. Instead, Soberano plays Taffy as a bubbly delight with some great dialogue that fleshes out what should have been a one-note character on script. I think it was smart of Diablo Cody to make the popular girl not be a bitch to someone perceived to be on a lower level on the social chain, instead making Taffy a supportive and funny character you like just as much as Lisa. I think we’ll be seeing Soberano in more films in the future. As for Carla Cugino, she doesn’t really get enough time to really shine like one would expect. But she makes the most of her screen time, hamming it up and reciting some of the quirkiest dialogue I’ve heard in a long time. I could tell Cugino was enjoying the hell out of this role, making me wish she had more to do and had more interactions with Newton, who plays off of her really well as a foil. 


is an amusing and fun horror rom-com that tries a bit too hard to be a future cult film in the making, sort of in the vein of HEATHERS or even JENNIFER’S BODY. Diablo Cody’s quirky and memorable dialogue elevates a story that slowly loses its way by the time the film hits its third act, thanks to an energetic cast who bring colorful characters to life. The uneven tone doesn’t help, as this movie is more of a zombie rom-com than an actual horror film - not completely succeeding at either one. In her film directorial debut, Zelda Williams shows promise for future projects with some cool visuals at times and a great use of lighting. The cast is what keeps LISA FRANKENSTEIN worth watching, with Kathryn Newton doing her best work as a shy high schooler who transforms into a goth princess once a wish she makes comes true. Her chemistry with Cole Sprouse, who does well with mainly a solid physical performance due to lack of dialogue, is great. Solid supporting performances by a bubbly Liza Soberano and a sassy Carla Cugino add substance to the quirky atmosphere. LISA FRANKENSTEIN didn’t bring me to life or anything, but it’s worth an eventual look if you’re in the mood for a horror rom-com buried in nostalgia.


2.5 Howls Outta 4

(6 out of 10)


Night Swim (2024)


Bryce McGuire


Wyatt Russell - Ray Waller

Kerry Condon - Eve Waller

Amelie Hoefele - Izzy Waller

Gavin Warren - Elliot Waller

Jodi Long - Lucy Summers

Nancy Lenehan - Kay

Genre - Horror/Supernatural

Running Time - 98 Minutes


Forced into early retirement by a degenerative illness, former baseball player Ray Waller moves into a new house with his wife and two children. He hopes that the backyard swimming pool will be fun for the kids and provide physical therapy for himself. However, a dark secret from the home’s past soon unleashes a malevolent force that drags the family into the depths of inescapable terror.


The last couple of years started off pretty strong, with 2022’s SCREAM and 2023’s M3GAN pretty much setting the horror genre on a good pace for the rest of those respective years. While the trailers for Blumhouse’s NIGHT SWIM didn’t exactly excite me in any sort of way, I was hoping for a decent enough time that would give me some hope for some killer horror movies for 2024.

It took me a while to pin down my thoughts for NIGHT SWIM because I honestly don’t have anything to really discuss about this bland film that left me more underwhelmed than I was expecting it to. Going in, I was expecting something similar to 1977’s DEATH BED: THE BED THAT EATS. The only difference is that it would be a swimming pool eating and/or killing people in a fun B-movie way. I wasn’t expecting a lamer version of THE AMITYVILLE HORROR with less murder, unearned insanity and a resolution that had people in my theater laughing their heads off. 

To get the good stuff out of the way, I thought the film looked nice with some cool shots here and there. The actors were giving more than what the screenplay deserved honestly, Wyatt Russell and Kerry Condon, in particular, deserve better material but are sympathetic as parents who are struggling for different reasons. The two younger actors (Amelie Hoefele and Gavin Warren) are likable as well. And I think the concept of a supernatural pool that grants one’s desires while demanding a violent sacrifice is super interesting.

However, the execution is weak and it creates a pretty dull film that contains elements of other horror movies that have executed these elements way better. There’s an investigation of this supernatural pool that doesn’t explore things enough, considering all the sacrifices that inhabit the pool. I guess you need a reason for a prequel or sequels since everything has to be a franchise/universe. The father of the family gets possessed like in THE AMITYVILLE HORROR, but it happens way too late into the film and not much is done with it until the very end. The change is all surface level and we don’t really get much depth, which NIGHT SWIM seriously lacks. And the worst part? It’s not scary or suspenseful at all. In fact, I chuckled when I saw the first CGI figure that appears in the pool to scare one of the characters. I doubt that’s the reaction the filmmakers wanted.


has a great idea that could have been explored in many interesting ways, but just decides to play it safe and give audiences something they’ve already seen countless of times. I’m sure it worked as a short film and this could have been pretty cool as a miniseries on Peacock to flesh out characters and ideas. But it seriously fell flat for me and I will probably never watch this again. Not worth dipping your feet into, in my opinion.


1.5 Howls Outta 4

(4 out of 10)

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