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Unsuccessful Creation: ‘Lisa Frankenstein’ Fails to Come Alive in New Orleans

When she excels in her craft, it must be acknowledged that Diablo Cody is among the boldest and most innovative screenwriters in Hollywood, rivaled only by Quentin Tarantino.

Possessing a unique talent for creating sharp and witty comedic dialogue that adds a touch of lightness to her often dark and complex subject matter, she made a significant impact right from the start, clinching a screenwriting Oscar for her debut feature film, “Juno,” in 2007.

Following this success, Cody continued to impress with finely tuned scripts for “Young Adult” in 2011 and “Tully” in 2018.

However, what happens when Cody’s work falls short of expectations? How does that manifest?

Enter “Lisa Frankenstein,” a horror-comedy directed by Zelda Williams, which epitomizes a lackluster effort from Cody. Described as a subversive feminist tale blending camp, angst, and a memorable castration scene, the film falls short in subtlety and cleverness.

Lacking cohesion and depth, the movie is promoted as a tribute to 1980s cinema but comes across as a shallow parody of the era’s worst offerings. It relies on random 1980s references as punchlines and fails to breathe life into its “Frankenstein” concept.

Despite fleeting moments of entertainment, the film’s major flaws extend beyond its evident budget limitations. Its poorly paced narrative is populated by superficial, unrelatable characters.

Watching “Lisa Frankenstein” feels akin to revisiting vintage MTV: initially nostalgic but ultimately disappointing, reminiscent of the channel’s mundane programming interspersed with occasional flashes of brilliance.

Set in a fictional American town but filmed in New Orleans in August and September 2022, the story centers on Lisa Swallows, a brooding high school goth grappling with a traumatic past. As the plot unfolds, it hints at dark secrets and unresolved mysteries surrounding Lisa’s family tragedy.

As the narrative progresses, the film struggles to find its footing, meandering through uninspired and disjointed sequences, occasionally punctuated by moments of dark humor and unexpected twists.

Featuring Kathryn Newton in a standout performance and Cole Sprouse as a peculiar zombie love interest, the film teeters between absurdity and charm, culminating in a metaphor-laden finale that veers between intriguing and questionable.

While “Lisa Frankenstein” may find redemption in the future, much like the reevaluation of Cody’s “Jennifer’s Body” in later years, it currently falls short of leaving a lasting impact.

In all likelihood, the film will quietly fade into obscurity, resting undisturbed in the annals of cinematic history.


  • Rating: 2 stars out of 4
  • Synopsis: An 1980s-themed horror-comedy shot in New Orleans in 2022.
  • Cast: Kathryn Newton, Cole Sprouse, Liza Soberano, Carla Gugino, Joe Chrest, Henry Eikenberry
  • Director: Zelda Williams
  • MPAA Rating: PG-13
  • Duration: 1 hour 48 minutes
  • Showing: Wide release.