Film Review – Lisa Frankenstein

Lisa Frankenstein

Lisa Frankenstein

A teen romance flick with a deadly comedic twist—that should be the one-line summary of Lisa Frankenstein (2024). The film boasts the screenwriting talents of Diablo Cody (Juno, Tully), which promises some wacky writing (in a good way) with interesting characters.  Unfortunately, the film makes some quizzical choices and has flawed character development.

Lisa Frankenstein follows Lisa (Kathryn Newton), a 1989 senior in high school in a new town and a new school.  Rumor has it that an axe murderer killed Lisa’s mom, and Lisa watched it all happen.  Because of this incident, Lisa lives with her recently re-wed father (Joe Chrest) in her stepmother Janet’s (Carla Gugino) house and her new step-sister Taffy (Liza Soberano).  Lisa is the mousy fly-on-the-wall teen trying not to get noticed or stick out.  Being a bookworm, Lisa is infatuated with the editor of the school’s paper, Michael Trent (Henry Eikenberry), your typical late-1980s Judd Nelson look-alike, complete with the flannel shirt and leather jacket. 


As Lisa struggles with 80s makeup and hair to fit in at school at Taffy’s behest, she finds solace in the abandoned bachelor’s graveyard. In particular, she is drawn to the grave of a young man who died unmarried and has a bust on top of his gravestone.  Visions of this handsome fellow provide for daydreams and an outlet for talking about her life, even gifting the man’s bust her mother’s rosary.

Dragged to a party by Taffy and drinking a spiked beverage leads to some mind-boggling occurrences that may have been helped by Taffy’s tanning bed and some lightning.  “The Creature” (Cole Sprouse),a.k.a. Lisa’s dead imaginary boyfriend, is somehow alive.  While Lisa eventually recognizes this seemingly living corpse, what ensues may be the most toxic and one-sided relationship ever to take place between a teen and a corpse.

At the behest of the Creature, Lisa starts dressing differently, which eventually leads to her feeling empowered by all the newfound attention her looks attract.  What comes with it is a personality change that begins as mildly off-putting and becomes nearly inexplicable by the film’s end.  Who knew an undead crush could have such an impact on a girl’s life?  It might help that the Creature kills her stepmother when he hears Lisa being threatened and verbally abused.  Having the Creature in her back pocket makes Lisa even more brazen and retaliatory towards those she has been wronged by.  The Creature, while helping Lisa, also benefits by taking spare parts from those he or both of them have killed to complete his look.  Somehow, the buggy tanning bed helps the Creature by electrifying him back to a human-like state, but the details are still kind of fishy.


While erratic and over-the-top like Lisa, the film has plenty of comedic relief and is one of its saving graces.  While the film goes into even more outlandish plot points, it is hard not to laugh at what unfolds in Lisa’s life along with the Creature.  Her life was going according to her plan until she had to reap what she sowed.  Many characters, especially stepmom Janet, are over the top on purpose.  Even Taffy’s perpetual perkiness and aloofness regarding what is happening around her provide some laughs.

While Lisa develops into an unlikeable character, the evolution of the Creature from groans and seeping bodily fluids to a more expressive yet still seeping bodily fluids thanks to that miraculous tanning bed is due to Cole Sprouse’s dedication to the character and the makeup artists at work on this film.  There are not many lines for Sprouse to utter, but not many actors hiding behind prosthesis and makeup can convey the character’s emotions and development as effectively as Sprouse did.  Somehow, the undead bachelor redeemed himself of his past, though not necessarily through ethical means.

Lisa Frankenstein is a fun 1980s flick that asks you to reserve any logical thinking about what is occurring.  Seriously, I am still scratching my head at a couple of scenes, as well as the ending.  The setting of 1989 just added to the audacity of the story because we all looked ridiculous, which I can say as someone who donned rhinestone sweatsuits.  We do not get a likable development of Lisa’s character; she does not give main character energy.  Instead, she is the antithesis of where the audience thought Lisa would go, but at least she did it with gusto, big hair, and Madonna’s wardrobe.  There are flaws in Lisa Frankenstein that can be overlooked if you love everything else, but that just did not happen in this instance. At least it was funny.




Sarah resides in Dallas where she writes about films and trailers in her spare time when she is not taking care of her animals at the zoo.

You can reach her via email or on Twitter

View all posts by this author