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‘Lisa Frankenstein’ on track to be the next cult classic

Lisa+Frankenstein%2C+released+Feb.+9%2C+tells+the+story+of+Lisa+Swallows+%28Kathryn+Newton%29+and+The+Creature+%28Cole+Sprouse%29+as+they+seek+revenge.
Courtesy of Focus Features
“Lisa Frankenstein,” released Feb. 9, tells the story of Lisa Swallows (Kathryn Newton) and The Creature (Cole Sprouse) as they seek revenge.

“Lisa Frankenstein,” released Feb. 9 and directed by Zelda Williams, stars Kathyrn Newton as Lisa Swallows and Cole Sprouse as The Creature. The film follows Lisa as she works through the traumatic murder of her mother just a few months prior. Lisa struggles to move on as everyone pressures her to. Eccentric, macabre and tortured, Lisa is the outcast of her town, in constant comparison to her step-sister, Taffy (Liza Soberano). 

The film begins to take off when lightning strikes The Creature’s grave, bringing him to life and drawing him to Lisa, our soon-to-be femme fatale. Paying homage to Veronica Sawyer and Jason Dean from the cult classic film “Heathers” (1988), Lisa and The Creature take matters into their own hands to take revenge on the people who have wronged Lisa, including her viciously vindictive step-mother, Janet (Carla Gugino), and perverted classmate, Doug (Bryce Romero). 

Set in 1989, the film is popping with classic80s colors, clothes and Lisa’s iconically crimped hair, often styled with a signature scrunchie. Music plays a crucial role in the film as well, setting the perfect tone to accompany what the audience is watching. Featured songs include “Head Over Heels,” “I Can See Clearly Now” and most notably, “Can’t Fight This Feeling.” The use of 80s pop ballads makes for a campy, nostalgic watch for those who experienced the80s only through film and music. 

Newton, also known for her roles in “Freaky” (2020) and “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” (2023), has quickly joined cinema’s elite of final girls. Her role as Lisa has surely fast-tracked this. Newton’s performance as an angsty teen in the 80s is easily one of the best of her career, rightfully earning her the title of becoming a horror powerhouse alongside Jenna Ortega, Mia Goth and Anya Taylor Joy, to name a few. Newton’s portrayal is natural and personal. As we see the character, we get a real sense of Lisa’s lived-in reality. Newton brings an empathetic vulnerability that is perfectly matched with her humorous charm and edgy melodrama.

Lisa is a haunting blend of our favorite gothic heroines with a deep, emotional vulnerability, saying, “Time heals all wounds, but that’s a lie. Time is the wound.” She is an easily dynamic character with big emotions, drawing the audience in with her relatable and outrageous revenge plots and contempt for the people who mean to harm her. 

Cole Sprouse’s performance as The Creature is genuine and charismatic, his chemistry with Lisa palpable as the film progresses with a charming likeness to “Edward Scissorhands” (1990). He does not speak through the majority of the film, relying on a very physical performance, strengthening the integrity of the film, complementing Newton’s own use of physical comedy alongside her chatty stream of consciousness that Lisa shares with The Creature. 

“Lisa Frankenstein” is on track to become a cult classic in twenty years with its notable callbacks to beloved cult classics and Williams skillfully weaving the past with the present. Williams uses an abundance of humor throughout the film while simultaneously tugging on the audience’s heartstrings. The pacing is well-timed, moving swiftly into the story, immediately bringing the audience into Lisa’s world; each beat is driven with conflict and hoops for Lisa to jump through. 

Though well paced, the ending of the film does not do the rest of the film justice. Left just a tad too ambiguous, the resolution falls flat, leaving much to be desired for such a high-energy and empathetic story. It is unsatisfying, though that is not to say every film requires to be wrapped up with a neat little bow, in the sense that the audience is left with too much to interpret. 

“Lisa Frankenstein” all in all is a campy, nostalgic film that fits right in with our most adored ’80s films. For anyone wishing they could time travel back to 1989, back to the days of iconically crimped hair, styled with scrunchies, timeless pop ballads and the occasional undead revenge plot, “Lisa Frankenstein” is the perfect film. 

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