Lisa Frankenstein premiers as an inventive horror comedy, directed by Zelda Williams in her noteworthy feature-length debut and penned by Diablo Cody's unmistakable storytelling prowess. The film's narrative takes a unique turn, drawing inspiration from Mary Shelley's 1818 novel “Frankenstein,” by placing Kathryn Newton's portrayal of Lisa Swallows, a misunderstood teenage goth girl, as the protagonist.
Cody's narrative skills shine through in the film's exploration of an unconventional premise. Centered around Lisa's quest to find missing body parts for her reanimated corpse companion, Cody expertly weaves together conventional story structures with her distinctive twisted tone. This delicate balance not only makes the film accessible to a broader audience but also preserves its niche appeal. The film, essentially a coming-of-age love story adorned with macabre elements, provides an unconventional yet deeply engaging backdrop for the exploration of themes such as love, acceptance, and identity.
The production design of Lisa Frankenstein assumes the role of a character in itself, embracing the loud and unmistakable aesthetic of the ‘80s. From meticulously designed sets and costumes to dream sequences, each element contributes to a vivid and eccentric portrayal of the era. The music, featuring standout singles and reimagined versions, adds a musical charm that complements the film's overall nostalgic journey.
However, while the film excels in stylized production, the editing misses an opportunity to embrace "tacky" editing trends of the 80s like star swipes and cube spins which could’ve added an extra layer of fun and authenticity. Outside of that, some scenes unfortunately feel unnecessarily prolonged, disrupting the otherwise engaging flow of the film. Nevertheless, these hiccups are overshadowed by the film's infectious energy and the presence of captivating characters.
When it comes to characters, though it is ultimately a love story, the supporting role of Taffy Swallows should be specially recognized. Liza Soberano's portrayal of Taffy, Lisa's stepsister, becomes a scene-stealer with her bubbly obliviousness and unconditional love. Soberano's performance adds depth to the character, making her a standout presence in the film and contributing to the overall charm.
In its unconventional style and concept, Lisa Frankenstein will likely not cater to mass audiences, but it possesses the potential to become a cult classic. The film not only encourages viewers to appreciate the artistry of filmmaking but also serves as a reminder that filmmakers, in this case, Cody and Williams, have the creative license to play, experiment, and deliver a fun, imaginative, and visually striking addition to the horror comedy genre. As a result, Lisa Frankenstein stands as a testament to the creative freedom inherent in filmmaking, where bold choices and unbridled creativity can yield a memorable and entertaining cinematic experience.