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)

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