Justice for Lisa Frankenstein

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The lifespan of a movie these days can be very unpredictable. Take for instance Sydney Sweeney’s surprise hit Anyone But You (not Madame Web) and Pixar’s Elemental—two films which ended up getting legs after a few weeks of release. Here’s hoping that’s the case with Lisa Frankenstein, that it chops off some legs and runs.

The sharp, darkly comedic film written by Jennifer’s Body scribe Diablo Cody and directed by Zelda Williams is a serve unlike anything in theaters right now. If there’s superhero fatigue, here’s an original movie that’s quirky and electric. Its romantic leads are Kathryn Newton (Freaky) and Cole Sprouse (Riverdale); she’s a teen goth girl who has more in common with the dead than the living, and he’s the deceased bachelor (Sprouse) who complements her perfectly. When we first meet her, Lisa is miserable while dealing with the death of her mother in a very Lydia Deetz way; her father got remarried quickly to a hair-sprayed, exercise-obsessed wicked stepmother (portrayed deliciously by Carla Gugino) who has a kind-hearted, popular daughter (breakout Liza Soberano) who truly wants to connect with Lisa.

One fateful night while the new sisters are having high-school misadventures involving a messy party, lighting strikes the tomb of the forlorn bachelor, bringing him to life fully determined to woo Lisa. Sprouse shines in a mostly silent role propelled by slapstick humor, and his character becomes Lisa’s dangerous secret. Newton becomes the killer inventor who you can’t help but root for; she’s so charming as she slips into madness that it’s definitely a “good for her” story, even she helps her suitor amass the functional body parts and buzz buzz jolts to fully come to life. They’re dynamite to see fall into more and more murderous love.

Tim Burton’s Lydia Deetz is mentioned above; the story’s dark romantic comedy also gives off Heathers vibes. Cody and Williams really speak the same cinematic language, and Lisa Frankenstein is not just a hilarious, new-wave and neon blood-drenched debut from Williams, it’s also another Cody classic. Though the Oscar winner has found success in a variety of genres, this movie really shows how she’s tapped into being the weird kid’s Judy Blume. Any high school outcast who wished they could build their partner and wrote lots of Tumblr Frankenstein fanfic about it will get on board with this film. Take a black-clad literary cutie to see this and win their heart.

Lisa Frankenstein also offers counterpoints to so many film Twitter complaints, like how movies are too dark these days. Okay, well here’s one that’s colorful and fun to look at with defined atmosphere and cinematography. The costuming on Lisa alone will inspire a new generation of goth chicks and even current ones (I want Lisa’s closet). The story is a cute romantic and gross gem—if I could, I’d put it in a Polly Pocket and carry it around everywhere with me. So please go see it: Lisa Frankenstein cannot go the way of Jennifer’s Body, which was under-appreciated when it was released and took years to earn its rightful laurels. Let’s not do this again to Diablo Cody y’all.


Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel, Star Wars, and Star Trek releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about the future of Doctor Who.

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