Lisa Frankenstein Review: From High School to High Voltage, An Electrifying Take on Teen Angst
“Lisa Frankenstein” emerges as a vibrant splash on the monochromatic palette of contemporary film. This cinematic endeavor, directed with a keen eye for both homage and innovation, resurrects the gothic charm of classic monster tales, infusing it with a neon glow of modernity that is as unexpected as it is delightful. Set against the backdrop of the early ’90s, a period teeming with the nascent vibrancy of pop culture yet to be fully realized, the film presents an audacious narrative that intertwines teenage angst with the macabre, crafting a story that is both a love letter to and a parody of the era it seeks to represent.
At its heart, “Lisa Frankenstein” is a tale of resurrection, not just of the titular character, but of a genre that has long oscillated between reverence and ridicule. The film’s protagonist, a cleverly named Lisa Frankenstein played by Kathryn Newton, embodies the quintessential outsider, navigating the treacherous waters of high school social hierarchies. However, the twist in her tale comes with a literal jolt of electricity, propelling the narrative into a realm where teenage drama meets the supernatural. This fusion of elements is handled with a deft touch, balancing the grotesque with the glamorous, and the eerie with the exuberant.
The film’s visual style is a character in its own right, a dazzling array of colors and patterns that pay homage to the iconic ’90s brand that shares its name. Yet, it’s not merely the aesthetics that make “Lisa Frankenstein” stand out; it’s the way these visuals are woven into the narrative, enhancing the storytelling rather than overshadowing it. Zelda Williams, as director, makes the bold choice to lean into this vibrant palette, which serves as both a nod to the past and a statement of intent, challenging the often-muted tones of its genre contemporaries.
Of course, the type of fusion at work in “Lisa Frankenstein” is going to have some bumps, and at times, the film’s ambitious blending of genres and styles feels more like a collision than a synthesis. The film’s pacing, too, occasionally stumbles, struggling to maintain the delicate balance between its horror roots and its comedic aspirations. These moments of discord, though few, are noticeable, pulling the viewer out of the immersive world the film so passionately crafts.
Yet, it is in its breaking of the mold that “Lisa Frankenstein” truly shines. The film boldly reimagines the Frankenstein mythos, casting its creature not as a monstrous other, but as a misunderstood being seeking connection in a world that views her with suspicion and fear. This reinterpretation is a clever subversion of expectations, offering a commentary on the nature of monstrosity and the societal penchant for othering what it does not understand. Moreover, the film’s exploration of themes such as identity, acceptance, and the power of friendship adds a layer of depth to its otherwise whimsical narrative.
The performances, particularly from Newton, inject the film with a vitality that is infectious. There is a tangible sense of joy in the portrayal of Lisa, a character who, despite the fantastical elements surrounding her, remains relatably human at her core. The supporting cast, too, brings a dynamic energy to the screen, each character fully realized and contributing to the film’s themes and emotions.
“Lisa Frankenstein” is a film that defies easy categorization. It is a tribute to the past, a fun look into the future, and a cinematic experience that delights and disorients in equal measure. While it may falter in its ambition, the film’s heart—beating vibrantly with the essence of creativity and innovation—cannot be denied.
RATING: 4.0 out of 5.0
Lisa Frankenstein is playing in theaters, February 9th, 2024.