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“Lisa Frankenstein” is not what I expected

Isabella Santoro

Anchor Staff Writer

“Lisa Frankenstein,” the 2024 comedy horror film starring Cole Sprouse and Kathryn Newton is a cinematic love letter to the camp of the 1980s. Sprouse stars as a zombie bachelor from the 19th century while Newton plays a depressed and reclusive teen girl who recently lost her mother after a vicious murder. From the trailer, this seems like a romance set in the 1980’s where the guy gets the girl but with a twist. It is, but with a few more unexpected twists. “Lisa Frankenstein” appears to be a romance story set around Lisa and her new zombie friend, but it doesn’t start out that way. Lisa is gunning for her new crush, Michael Trent (Henry Eikenberry) and Sprouse’s character is not considered until later. Arguably the best part of the film is Lisa’s stepsister Taffy (Liza Soberano), a seemingly shallow and vapid cheerleader, but is, uniquely, not the way she’s made out to be.  

Image via Wikipedia

What stood out the most were the comedy aspects of the film where a scene looked like it was not meant to be comedic but ended up being so. Sitting in the theater, the guests around me laughed at the parts I did and were shocked by the same scenes I was. It was the first time I saw a movie in theaters elicit such a reaction from the audience, making for a better movie. It felt as though the audience was not expecting the violence they saw or how each scene ended up being taken in a comedic light. My first time seeing the movie, I was shocked by what went on during the film, but the second time I watched it was an entirely different beast. The second time, I understood the jokes and humor for what they were: silly. It felt as though the movie was echoing horror and cult classic movies like “Heathers” and other 1980’s teen comedy films. 

Aside from poking fun at them in this satire film, “Lisa Frankenstein” lends a hand to the gloriously outrageous fashion and decor trends of the 1980’s. Specifically the late 1980s with the many neon colors and bright lights of the decade. Just within the home she lives in with her family, there appears to be a great deal of references and calls to the revolutionary time period that is the 1980s. I thought it was a very clever choice to set this movie in such a decadent era because of the ironic way it is not the light romantic comedy one might expect but something a little stranger and a little darker than that. 

However, it seems “Lisa Frankenstein” might have missed its target audience. Casting Cole Sprouse, who is known for his work on Disney Channel and the CW show Riverdale, seems like it would set the film up for a young audience. But with references that were picked right from the 1980s, Gen Z may not have caught on to a lot of the wording and phrases such as song references and the like. As someone who is familiar with 1980s trends by having parents from that generation, I was able to catch on, but not everyone will be able to. This may cause some of the humor to fall short where it shouldn’t. 

I was not a fan of the romance aspect, but instead thought it was unserious and something to poke fun at. I am not sure if it was meant to elicit these types of feelings, but it did for me. I did not root for the main characters and rather liked the humor and the setting the best. If anything, the way they tried to make it seem like Lisa would end up with her crush was more interesting than her being with her zombie friend. Coming from an avid watcher of romantic comedies, this movie did not seem the sort to be promoting the seriousness of the romance rather than trying to highlight the satire and weirdness of the plot.

Given the lack of seriousness of this movie and the fact that it was meant to be a satire, it does a good job with setting and silly humor. If you are a fan of satire, the 1980s, and goofy movies with a strange horror twist, “Lisa Frankenstein” is for you.


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