Lisa Frankenstein movie review in 2024

Lisa Frankenstein – Review

When the ’80s-set horror-comedy Lisa Frankenstein begins, Lisa Swallows (Kathryn Newton) has already survived a slasher movie: Her mother was murdered by a masked psychopath, which Jennifer’s Body screenwriter Diablo Cody and first-time-feature director Zelda Williams depict in riotous flashbacks.

But the grieving Lisa has greater terrors to contend with, like the uptight narcissist (Carla Gugino) her insipid, head-in-a-newspaper father (Joe Chrest) married after being widowed, the hell of a new high school in a new town, and the messy sexual politics of adolescence.

The frizzy-haired loner prefers the company of the dead to that of her living peers, and in a derelict cemetery, she takes a fancy to one tombstone in particular. The Victorian pianist (played by Cole Sprouse) owns it, with his tragic death attractively animated in black-and-white over the opening credits. This sets up both his eventual rise from the grave and his deliciously vengeful connection with Lisa.

Lisa Frankenstein

In a quirky and campy affair, Lisa Frankenstein lacks the bark or bite of Cody’s previous mix of chills and laughs, which could be due to its PG-13 leash. Megan Fox’s titular teen succubus sharply wielded her R-rated dialogue in Jennifer’s Body, but in this film, there’s a kookier voice coming out of Newton’s mouth.

The leads form a tornado of slapstick, with Williams’ direction reinforcing visual humor in ways that the dialogue doesn’t always make good on. When someone spikes Lisa’s drink at a party, it provides an early opportunity for Newton to showcase her physical comedy and line-delivery skills. She fends off a predatory lab partner while confusing the creep with an expertly murmured “Pabst” (referring to her favorite director, while he thinks she’s mentioning the beer in his hand).

The jokes may be a bit pedestrian, but Newton’s wide-eyed and droll performance ensures most of hers earn a guffaw.

Lisa Frankenstein Gallery 

This is very much The Kathryn Newton Show, but Sprouse throws himself flamboyantly into his gruesome role. He’s playing a mostly mute character – save for a few grunts and groans – but proves a gross yet endearing romantic lead, and the subject of a nostalgic makeover sequence that’s sure to please Clueless fans.

Lisa Frankenstein screams with references to ’80s and ’90s cinema: Newton pulls double Winona-Ryder-homage duty, engaged in a toxic, murderous romance like Veronica in Heathers while channeling the macabre fixations and awkward demeanor of Beetlejuice’s Lydia Deetz. (Though unlike Veronica, Lisa lives for the danger, and even at her most homicidal, she’s an adorable character to root for.)

Lisa Frankenstein

The vintage Tim Burton extends through the Edward Scissorhands-esque juxtaposition between Lisa’s princess-of-darkness fashions and the various pinks and pastels of her family home, as well as a portrayal of a misunderstood “monster.”

The film piles on the high-school comedy clichés – the unavailable heartthrob, his bitchy gal pal – but Cody also gives herself the opportunity to flip those tropes on their heads. In a refreshing twist, the writer portrays Lisa’s perfectly coiffed stepsister Taffy (played by Liza Soberano) as more of a friend than a foe, rather than the typical callous cinematic cheerleader.

Cody further skewers nerds and cool-guy archetypes by offering a female protagonist who’s smart and cultured, and whose coming-of-age journey catapults her into becoming even more unapologetically herself. Unfortunately, a late-stage speech about “cool guys not wanting cool girls” lacks the weight to warrant such sincerity in a film overflowing with silliness.

Lisa Frankenstein might not prove as timeless as the movies it references, but it’s fun and frothy enough to pass the time for now. A period-appropriate namecheck of The Cure earns one of Newton’s biggest laughs, and the pioneering British goths provide one of the many ’80s bangers soundtracking the whimsical antics of this antiheroine and her undead beau. Plus, there are a few horny black-and-white live-action and animated sequences, with nods to “The Bride of Frankenstein” and Georges Méliès’ Le Voyage dans la Lune” to further tickle classic film fans’ fancies.

The Verdict

In Lisa Frankenstein, Jennifer’s Body screenwriter Diablo Cody returns to high-school horror-comedy with a playful riff on Mary Shelley’s iconic Gothic novel. Director Zelda Williams’ feature-length debut, while not as memorable as the ’80s and ’90s high-school romps and creep shows it pays tribute to, still offers lots of gory fun. This is thanks to Newton’s electric lead performance and the sparks she throws off opposite Cole Sprouse’s game portrayal of a reanimated corpse.


  • Kathryn Newton as Lisa Swallows
  • Cole Sprouse as The Creature
  • Liza Soberano as Taffy[5]
  • Henry Eikenberry as Michael Trent
  • Joe Chrest as Dale Swallows
  • Carla Gugino as Janet Swallows


Lisa Frankenstein was released on February 9, 2024, in the United States by Focus Features.[8] It is scheduled to be released in the United Kingdom by Universal Pictures on March 1, 2024.[2]


Leave a Comment