When one hears the words “horror” and “comedy” put together, the films that come to mind are Robert Zemeckis’ Death Becomes Her or even 2015’s The Final Girls. Each of these movies tries to do something different. They are both funny, but Death Becomes Her wants the characters to be unlikable. Whereas Todd Strauss-Schulson’s The Final Girls is deeply moving in helping the main character deal with her trauma. Unfortunately, Lisa Frankenstein, directed by Zelda Williams written by Diablo Cody, tries to do both, which just doesn’t work.


Lisa Frankenstein takes place In 1989. Our teenage misfit protagonist, Lisa -Kathryn Newton- finds herself in an unideal situation. A year earlier her mother was brutally murdered while Lisa escaped. Her dad has remarried to a horrible homemaker -Carla Gugino- but has a concerned, albeit naive, new stepsister -Liza Soberano.   

Lisa longs to be with the dead occupant from the Victorian era of her favorite grave (Frankenstein, played by Cole Sprouse). Her wish unexpectedly comes true when a corpse rises from the grave and joins her in the land of the living. Together, they embark on a murder-spree to find the missing body parts of the corpse.


The story starts out pretty slowly. It goes out of its way to make Kathryn Newton look mousy and then gradually has her grow more “goth” as the story progresses. It isn’t until part way through the second act that there is an escalating event that jolts life into the narrative.

I realize I am probably not the ideal audience for this movie, but I sure didn’t like it. As hinted at above, trying to get the audience to care about a character who does deplorable things is a very difficult thing. The juxtaposition of having a girl who needs to heal from her trauma but ends up being ok with and even orchestrating the murder of people is unnerving. I might be misreading it, but it sure comes across like glorifying suicide.

It is a very fun film, however. And it can even be almost moving in parts. Kathryn Newton and Cole Sprouse are electric together and both have a very bright future in the industry.

The production design felt like a dollar store version of Tim Burton, specifically Edward Scissorhands. And thematically it tries to match that. Yet the result doesn’t have the sincerity that Burton brings to his projects.

Bottom Line

Lisa Frankenstein is a horror-comedy that tries to be too many things, causing an unsatisfying mess. There are funny parts but not enough to redeem the film. I do not recommend it.

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