‘Lisa Frankenstein’ Review – Bringing Out A Dead Horse To Beat Under A Neon Moon

Lisa Frankenstein wants dead guy
Lisa (Kathryn Newton) makes a wish in Lisa Frankenstein (2024), Focus Features

In case you haven’t heard, Lisa Frankenstein is set in the same universe as Jennifer’s Body, making it a follow-up and a prequel of sorts. The writer Diablo Cody randomly threw that one out at the premiere based on excitement – or desperation – but there it is.

Lisa Frankenstein- Cole and Kathryn
Kathryn Newton and Cole Sprouse in Lisa Frankenstein (2024), Focus Features

That seed of a connection doesn’t affect anything in the grander scheme, but it does create an expectation. Lisa Frankenstein now lives or dies as a true piece of Cody’s cinema and not just of its broader genre. But how does it carry that burden? You’re probably wondering.

The plot is boilerplate for the burgeoning ‘undead romantic comedy’ subgenre – assuming that’s really a full-fledged thing. Kathryn Newton of Quantumania and Detective Pikachu fame is Lisa, the spooky goth girl obsessed with death who would rather be six feet under than deal with the cookie-cutter normies in her family and at school.

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Lisa (Kathryn Newton) hangs out in a cemetery in Lisa Frankenstein (2024), Focus Features

This leads her to make a wish that is granted when a bolt of lightning strikes the grave of a cultured but lovelorn youth (Cole Sprouse) who died before his time in the 1830s. His name? Frankenstein – and like his literary namesake’s Monster, he comes back to life as a lumbering, groaning corpse that needs new parts. 

Before long, Lisa takes it upon herself to fix this Creature’s problem, but doing that requires going on a murder spree in a small, but fortunately for her, not very bright town. There is also a magic tanning bed that serves as the mad science lab, and a struggle to lose virginity which plays out in the background.

That’s Lisa Frankenstein in a nutshell for you. I’m sure most would be ready to cast it off after reading all that, but there are a few flashes of brilliance to reel a viewer in.

Paying tribute to the silent era of filmmaking and Georges Méliès, for instance, while nothing new, is always a welcome distraction. The pyrrhic side effect, however, is one of two things – the homage is either pretentious or it reminds you of something better than what you’re watching.

It’s not a bad move on the part of first-time director Zelda ‘daughter of Robin’ Williams. She shows creativity and promise and elevates the material whenever possible, though she might need another feature or two under her belt to find her groove. 

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Kathryn Newton opposite Liza Soberano in Lisa Frankenstein (2024), Focus Features

Still, the yin to the above yang I alluded to – Diablo Cody’s footprint on proceedings (i.e., the script that needs elevating) – comes with flaws. I can definitely see this story fitting in the same world as Jennifer’s Body with its morbid sense of humor and grandiloquent brand of dialogue uncharacteristic of high schoolers.

However, it fails in ways the latter and other films like it always do. At the top of the list is they expect you to root for Lisa as she grows bitchier and gleefully starts murdering people to mend her zombie ‘boyfriend’ whom she treats like the dirt he crawled out of at varying points.

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Cole Sprouse is the Frankenstein Creature in Lisa Frankenstein (2024), Focus Features

Yet he stands by her to the end past the nookie, the haranguing, and the dismemberments. Isn’t that sweet? Well, anyway, I have to disappoint the sorrowfully star-crossed lovebirds out there.

Lisa Frankenstein runs out of steam long before getting to its resolution, and probably won’t hold your attention outside the experimental interludes. It seems destined to become a cult classic, but why Universal/Comcast would waste their horror IPs on gory farces like this, Renfield, and Poor Things is beyond me when they hit a home run with The Invisible Man.

NEXT: ‘Madame Web’ Review – What’s One More Spider-Verse Wannabe Stuck In The Past?

Lisa Frankenstein



  • Decent first act.
  • Imaginative interludes that help tell the story.
  • Liza Soberano stands out.


  • No redeemable main characters.
  • Does not ultimately live up to the Frankenstein mythos.
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