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Review: Lisa Frankenstein

Screenwriter Diablo Cody combines romance, reanimated bodies, Gothic imagery and John Hughes vibes in the new film Lisa Frankenstein. The film is set in 1989 and follows Lisa (a charming Kathryn Newton) a high-schooler who hangs out in the local cemetery wishing she could join the dead in peaceful slumber. High school is that bad and to make things worse, Lisa is now living with an evil stepmother (Carla Gugino), her clueless father (Joe Chrest) and her popular stepsister Taffy (Lisa Soberano) after her mother was brutally killed by an axe-murderer.

Lisa has a mad crush on the Christian Slater-esque editor of the school lit magazine (Henry Eikenberry) but she soon finds a more meaningful relationship with a corpse (Cole Sprouse). He doesn't speak, his tears smell awful and he is missing a few key body parts but the guy is otherwise great. The two begin to bond as the body count increases.

Director Zelda Williams understands the speed of Cody's dialogue and there are some good laughs to be found here. Newton is game for just about anything, as she proved previously in Freaky. She really commits here and the film succeeds for the most part thanks to her charm. Her musical interlude featuring an REO Speedwagon song is a highlight. Sprouse struggles a bit more here. His performance feels a bit too cribbed from Johnny Depp's Edward Scissorhands. The film gets increasingly violent and takes a couple of inspired turns but losses steam as it chugs along. Lisa Frankenstein could be tightened up by 10 or so minutes and the whole thing would have gone down a bit smoother. Still, its a funky, funny film that may wear its influences proudly but has a strong enough voice of its own. This is due to Diablo Cody who still shows she is a creative writer with a style all her own.



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