Lisa Frankenstein bites into more than it can chew

Sun. February 11, 2024 12:00 AM
by Jerry Nunn

Even with a new jolt of electricity as a fresh flick in 2024, the Focus Feature film Lisa Frankenstein arrives stiff as a board and lifeless unfortunately. This horror film is dying to be a cult classic in the vein of Beetlejuice and The Rocky Horror Picture Show but looks to be put out of its rest after a short run in theaters.

The plot follows Lisa Swallows, a student struggling to find her tribe and become popular in school in the year of 1989. This gives room for uncomfortable situations to be had for the characters onscreen and questionable jokes to be told to modern audiences that were acceptable at the time.

The story starts off promisingly enough as Swallows, played by Kathryn Newton, is likable in a Winona Ryder sort of way and wants to reanimate a Victorian-era dead body with Cole Sprouse as The Creature. The misunderstood teenager drastically changes in character after a shocking incident and the love story lumbers along at a zombielike pace until the bitter end.

All of Lisa Frankenstein's parts don't line up correctly and only a few of the shriveled-up jokes are amusing. There are bits and pieces borrowed from cinematic history that are ripe to exploit, but the tropes become stale before the end. There are classic ingredients from Heathers, Mean Girls and Clueless mixed with Tim Burton's Corpse Bride and Frankenweenie. What should have been a possible divine inspiration and an homage slowly turns into a blatant stealing of ideas that audiences have seen before. This Edward Scissorhands has an unexpected talent for playing the piano instead of trimming the edges or cutting hair.

Liza Soberano as Taffy Swallows, escapes unscathed as the stepsister in this copycat caper and Carla Gugino understood the campy assignment as Janet Swallows. This doesn't match Joe Chrest's contribution as Dale Swallows who seemed lost and appeared awkward while onscreen.

Lisa Frankenstein is the feature film debut from Robin Williams' daughter Zelda who should be more adept at presenting a twisted comedy. She identifies as bisexual but missed an opportunity for more LGBTQ+ inclusion in this piece.

Writer Diablo Cody is from Illinois and grew up in Lemont before hitting it big with the movies Juno and Jennifer's Body. She is known for revising scripts such as Burlesque and The Evil Dead but deserves detention for not completing her homework for Lisa Frankenstein.

Instead of killing time with this monstrous mishap try watching Poor Things instead. That Oscar contender explores the same genre in more interesting and unforgettable ways told through a unique lens.

This Frankenstein earns an F for failure to honor the original material and needs to study the macabre masters much more.

Lisa Frankestein lurches into theaters on Feb. 9, 2024, before sinking into a streaming grave.