April 8, 2024

LISA FRANKENSTEIN: Blunt Force Black Comedy

2024 / 101 min
Review by Pepper the Poopy😾

Lisa Frankenstein is slickly directed, looks great and features good performances. But while there’s plenty of comic horror potential in the basic concept, the film squanders it with shallow characters, heavy-handed satire and a misguided idea of black comedy.

The title character (Kathryn Newton) is your standard-issue misfit emo teenager who’d rather hang out in a graveyard than with her peers. After nearly being sexually assaulted at a party, she visits the grave of a long-dead musician, wishing aloud she could be with him. That wish ends up being granted when he’s resurrected by a lightning strike. Lisa is initially horrified by his stench and missing appendages, but after cleaning him up a bit, he becomes infatuated with her, enough so that when bitchy stepmom (Carla Gugino) threatens to send Lisa away, he kills her.

At this point, Lisa’s entire personality and appearance changes fast enough to give the viewer whiplash. Suddenly sexy, bitchy and outgoing, she ends up sewing missing pieces back onto the Creature (Cole Sprouse) with the body parts of those he kills. This includes a boy who tried to assault her at the party, as well as Michael (Henry Eikenberry), a guy she has a crush on but ends up sleeping with her stepsister, Taffy (Liza Soberano). 

"Stay off the bike...it's where I hang my clothes."
The plot isn’t the problem…it’s the execution. First of all, Lisa Frankenstein takes place in the ‘80s for no discernible reason. Not only is poking fun at that decade like shooting fish in a barrel, the setting has nothing to do with the plot. Additionally, virtually everyone is a caricature…the ditzy cheerleader, the sensitive hunk, the goofy dad, the narcissistic stepmom and, of course, the eye-rolling goth protagonist who’s increasingly nonchalant about the murder and dismemberment going on around her. I guess they'd all be funny if you'd never seen them before.

There’s a lot of situational black comedy in Lisa Frankenstein, but it’s presented with the subtlety of a mallet, as if hearing a sensitive ballad during a brutal murder is inherently humorous (which has been done to death in plenty of other horror comedies). Yet at the same time, the film pulls its punches in an obvious attempt to keep a PG-13 rating. Should any black comedy that takes place in the 80s and features the severing of body parts really be concerned with the tween crowd?

First time director Zelda Williams (Robin’s daughter) has a good visual eye and puts together some neat sequences. But she and the able cast are let down by Diablo Cody’s screenplay which, considering her resume, is surprisingly ham-fisted, derivative and superficial.


FEATURETTES - Resurrecting the ‘80s takes a look at the production design; An Electric Connection is about the characters; A Dark Comedy Duo features director Zelda Williams and screenwriter Diablo Cody.

AUDIO COMMENTARY - By director Zelda Williams.




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