Lisa Frankenstein review: A Joyfully Silly Love Letter to Gothic Horror

Lisa Frankenstein review: A Joyfully Silly Love Letter to Gothic Horror

Kathryn Newton stars in goth girl fantasy movie Lisa Frankenstein. Our review…

Screenwriter Diablo Cody makes a welcome return to the high-school setting with Lisa Frankenstein, an irreverent weirdo goth girl fantasy directed by Zelda Williams. It’s a 1980s teen-comedy-horror that takes inspiration from Mary Shelley, Heathers, John Hughes and Creature from the Black Lagoon to name a few. Though not as edgy as her beloved cult favourite Jennifer’s Body (that was misunderstood by many at the time thanks to dire marketing) it is a joyfully silly love letter to gothic horror.

Lisa Swallows (another brilliant performance from Kathryn Newton) feels out of place. She’s mourning the murder of her mother by an axe murderer, getting to grips with her new step-family and secretly lusting after a dead guy in the local abandoned cemetery. When she drinks a spiked cocktail at a party, things take a strange turn. The same night a bolt of lightning reanimates the corpse of her Victorian crush (a mute Cole Sprouse) and the pair go on a killing spree in search of body parts.

Visually the film blends animation sequences featuring shadow puppetry with a heightened live-action aesthetic depicting suburbia in a similar fashion to Edward Scissorhands or even Bob Balaban’s Parents. The screenplay is intriguing and playful though gets a bit muddled in tone as the film goes on. In its attempts to balance its themes of trauma, assault and the general horrors of being a teenage girl with humour it occasionally gets a bit lost. Though it must be said that Cody is still a dab hand at the hilariously memorable one-liners.

For all its faults there is so much to love about Lisa Frankenstein including the great performances from all the cast, the banging soundtrack featuring The Jesus & Mary Chain and Pixies and its deeply sincere subversion of the cheerleader character. Just like a fulfilling romantic fling, this is a film that will hold a special place in the hearts of misfit teen girls (and maybe their mums too).

Lisa Frankenstein is in cinemas on 1 March