Imagine the scientist character of Victor Frankenstein created by Mary Shelley, who possessed a determined scientific mind and intellectual accomplishments as he would react to giving life to something as haywire and horny as Lisa Frankenstein. It seems like an obvious move for director Zelda Williams and writer Diablo Cody: without doubt, the only reason you would think of resurrecting a rotting corpse (a good-looking one that is) would be to give meaning to your own miserable life.
Lisa Frankenstein is referred to as a “coming of rage.” This title playfully combines both the original horror work about a deformed man brought back from the dead and a typical teenage initiation story in which a young girl struggles so hard to blend it. Lisa Swallows (Kathryn Newton, spritely with great timing) doesn’t need everyone around her to care but sometimes she desires just some more attention, if there could be any.
She makes up for her dull home-life by hiding out at the nearest cemetery. She has one favorite spot – it is his grave. The creature is never referred to by name; however, during one fateful storm his body rises from underneath the soil, and… Cole Sprouse (Jughead on Riverdale!) ends up in Lisa’s bedroom.
Thus begins a tale of young love, extreme makeover, soft murder, and finding oneself along the way. The film refuses to settle on any single thing – it takes pleasure in playing around with body horrors element of Creature slowly coming into existence again (perfect casting option for Sprouse who speaks almost nothing but brings humor and tenderness through the smallest gestures), sudden thirst for murder by Lisa —as well as high school politics, consent issues, impossible beauty standards among others. And Williams stirs it all together ramping up 80s excesses and ambitions with a poppy jukebox soundtrack packed full of countless high-octane outfits that watched Grease and then turned up the tanning bed to eleven.
Some of these have been fun to watch as a genre exercise, while others are just plain charismatic because of the young leads, but Cody – one of the best writers of our time- gives Lisa and her lover way too much to do so it can get kind of jumbled. Murder isn’t that bad; realizing that a shabby tanning bed could bring back your lover is simply the first part. Will they even stay together? Did anyone deserve to die anyway? Maybe it’s enough just to wonder how much fun these horrors can be.
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