Home Estate Planning Lisa Frankenstein review: Zelda Williams debut is frightfully good

Lisa Frankenstein review: Zelda Williams debut is frightfully good

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Zelda Williams, actor and daughter of the late Robin Williams, makes her directorial debut with this high concept comedy set in the 1980s. Kathryn Newton plays Lisa, a high schooler who struggles to fit in to her new home after her father remarries. Following a bad experience at a party, she unwittingly reanimates the corpse of a dead Victorian man (Cole Sprouse). Keen to look more human, The Creature goes on a killing spree for new body parts, while Lisa’s growing affection for him leads her down a dark path. 

The film has a lot of inspirations, most notably 1980s horror comedies like Weird Science (which this film references). There’s also echoes of Jennifer’s Body, the cult hit by Diablo Cody, who writes the script for this film. It’s an anarchic mix of genres that quite often gets in its own way, lurching from comedy to horror to drama without much connective tissue.

However, there’s no denying that this is a lot of fun. Revelling in the dark nature of its story, the neon drenched mediocrity of Lisa’s world leads to some hilarious moments, like Lisa using her step-sister Taffy’s (Liza Soberano) tanning bed to animate new parts for The Creature. Williams is an interesting visual filmmaker, bringing to mind early Tim Burton in the way she views suburbia, while Cody’s script has some darkly comic exchanges. 

Newton makes for a charming lead, channelling Winona Ryder in her Heathers era. She captures the coolness and tragedy of being a high school outcast, before leaning fully into the madness. Sprouse sits somewhere between Johnny Depp in Edward Scissorhands and Nicholas Hoult in Warm Bodies, never quite capturing the charisma of either but making a fine comedic foil for his co-star. 

Nostalgic and colourful, Lisa Frankenstein has every chance of becoming the type of cult horror hit it is inspired by. 

Lisa Frankenstein is in cinemas from 1st March. 

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