Lisa Frankenstein Movie Review

When I first heard of “Lisa Frankenstein,” I was intrigued by the title. Yeah. Let’s get some women in the man-making game!


I was curious about why it wasn’t coming out during Halloween, but after watching it, I’m glad it didn’t because it would have been just another Halloween tale and gotten lost amongst the others. Well, not entirely. This is quite different. The entertaining script was written by Diablo Cody, who wrote “Juno,” which won her an Academy Award. I like her work but like her even more after learning she got her name by going through Cody, Wyoming (gorgeous country) and the song from an offshoot of Duran Duran’s group called Arcadia and their song “El Diablo,” which I happen to love. Her previous writing is magnificent and remains the same here with Lisa. This film is Zelda Williams’s (Robin Williams’s daughter) feature-length directorial debut.


Wait! Before I say anything else, I want you to know that you can’t miss the opening credits, so get to your seats on time! They’re clever.

In “Lisa Frankenstein,” Cody takes a story about a teenage girl isolated from her family through her mother’s death and turns it into a comedic look at who that girl becomes from that death. Lisa, played by Kathryn Newton (Lady Bird and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri), has no friends and likes to wander through an old, abandoned cemetery, spending time there because “no one should be forgotten.” She also creates rubbings she then takes home to pin on her walls. She’s into the group The Cure because they help her emotionally.

Largely into art, new and old, she has a poster of a legendary image on her closet door from the film “A Trip to the Moon” from 1902 by director Georges Méliès. It’s a perfect image for who ends up spending time in that closet.


When Lisa strolls through the cemetery with its rusted gate and overgrown shrubbery, she can’t forget about one grave in particular, with a statue atop the thing. It’s a young man’s head. She makes a wish that she could be with him and touches the face she has seen many times, over and over. Later that night, looking at her own face in the mirror, she throws something at that mirror, which then shatters into a web of sorts. She prefers to avoid what she sees. When her stepmother sees the cracks, she loses it.

She has a stepsister named Taffy (Liza Soberano), who tries to tame her mother, but Lisa’s terribly abusive stepmother, Janet, played incredibly well (and nastily) by Carla Gugino from “Entourage” makes Lisa’s life a living hell over the mess.

Since her name is Janet, Cody uses the line, “Damn it, Janet.” I loved it because, in my teen years, I was very into the film that line is from. I applaud the filmmakers, including so many little easter eggs.


After Lisa, who looks like Madonna from “Desperately Seeking Susan,” makes the wish, a strange, bright green lightening storm hits the area. “The Creature,” played by Cole Sprouse, dead since the 1800s, appears on her doorstep and makes entrance. She knows who he is and wants to help him become whole again… in ways that will benefit her.

No question that scrubbing the filth off of him is the first thing that needs to be done, and it is. But Lisa tells him that she didn’t actually “wish” for him to come to her but for her to be able to meet him where he has been because “life sucks.” Oh, well. She has to work with what she has.

They quickly get down to changing him. You’ll be impressed with how Sprouse gets a point across to Lisa from when he first meets her through the rest of the film. He doesn’t speak; instead, he communicates with body motion and grunts. His Creature is an imposing character and his work in the film is striking.


The soundtrack in the film is delicious. It’s set in the 80’s and has that feel and sound. Nevertheless, you might appreciate the Violent Femmes t-shirt worn by “The Creature” and images of Patrick Nagel’s art on the walls where Lisa (Kathryn Newton) worked. A Nagel was used on the cover of the Duran Duran album “Rio.” When In Rome’s, “The Promise” is used along with “Can’t Fight This Feeling,” sung not by REO Speedwagon, but by JoJo. You’ll never forget the scene where “On the Wings of Love” by Jeffrey Osborne is used. It’s a surprisingly dark but hysterical moment.


So, “Lisa Frankenstein” isn’t the best horror/comedy ever written, but it doesn’t have to be for you to have a good time. You can compare it to “Edward Scissorhands” to a degree, but Williams and Cody could do worse since that film is outstanding. It’s funny but isn’t scary. Sometimes, it feels like a teen drama without the back-and-forth love story they often have.

Stay away from looking for the next best thing and you’ll find yourself laughing throughout and enjoying yourself. I recommend the film, but it’s not one you must see in the theater to find its value. It’s clear that the director and writer made a stellar team here, and I hope they find time to work together again in the future.


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Lisa Frankenstein

Director: Zelda Williams
Writer: Diablo Cody
Starring: Kathryn Newton, Cole Sprouse, Liza Soberano, Henry Eikenberry, Joe Chrest and Carla Gugino

Producers: Mason Novick, Diablo Cody
Executive Producer: Jeffrey Lampert

Genres: Horror, Comedy

Distributor: Focus Features

Production Co: MXN Entertainment


Rating contributor: ShariK.Green tmc
I'm the Sr. Film Writer and Community Manager for I write, direct and produce short films with my production company, Good Stew Productions. Though it's difficult to answer this question when asked, I'd say my favorite movie is “The Big Chill.” I enjoy photography, poetry, and hiking and I adore animals, especially elephants. I live in Arizona and feel it's an outstanding and inspirational place to live.

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