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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Waterloo chapter.

In a cinematic landscape often dominated by darkness and grit, Lisa Frankenstein bursts onto the screen like a shot of technicolour brilliance and emerges as a whimsical, yet morbid, fusion of hopeless romance and 80s horror. Directed by Zelda Williams and written by Diablo Cody (who also wrote the cult-classic Jennifer’s Body), this movie breathes new life into the age-old tale of Frankenstein. It’s gently gnarly, charming, and electrifying (literally).

To be honest, I hadn’t really heard anything about this movie before reading the description and deciding to go with my siblings during reading week. I was expecting something similar to Beetlejuice or like a modern Tim Burton — what I received was neither and both at the same time. I think this was the only movie I’ve ever watched where I was genuinely speechless leaving the theatre, and I wasn’t quite sure if it was in a good or bad way. Lisa Frankenstein pays tribute to several different horror genres, yet somehow manages to become its own brand of weird. It is kind of like Sweeney Todd if it took place in high school. 

In order to avoid spoilers, I will keep the premise brief. Our main character is a teenage girl named Lisa Swallows (played by Kathryn Newton), who attempts to cope with high school by indulging in the odds and awkwardness of life. She is an outcast, introverted, socially inept, and murderous; with a sister who is a popular cheerleader (Liza Soberano). As common as this trope is, there is just something about the awkwardness of Lisa Swallows that pulls you in. It’s hard to look away. She speaks to the “weird-girl” in all of us, the ones who constantly felt pushed to the outside because of something outside of their control. It’s a relatable story of love despite flaws, coming of age, with a bit of gore mixed in. Though I don’t know of many teenage girls who didn’t like darker stories at a certain age. 

I couldn’t decide if I liked this movie when I first watched it, but I can quickly see it becoming a comfort movie. It’s told in such a way that subverts expectations. It’s uncomfortable, almost all the time. It requires a bit of patience and understanding, as we all do. I don’t doubt that there’ll be many people who watch this and think it was the worst thing they ever watched; I thought so too during a few scenes (spontaneous singing has never been my thing). However, I think that’s part of the beauty of this movie, it’s silly and it doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s the teenage goth at the mall, it’s the “weird” kids who fall in love — a nervous new beginning. 

Speaking of the romance in this movie, I have to hand it to Cole Sprouse for his portrayal as “The Creature” (basically Frankenstein’s monster). Having to grunt for almost two hours, with one line at the end must’ve been hilarious to film. I do commend his facial performance though, he delivered a lot of emotion through his expressions, and I definitely felt the love he had for Lisa Swallows as the movie went on. “The Creature” was well done though, and I honestly have to admit that he is probably the hottest zombie that I have ever seen. Maybe because he is Cole Sprouse with a bit of dirt and green goo, or maybe because he has the softest and sweetest heart despite the dirt and green goo. The love story between him (it?) and Lisa Swallows developed nicely and was believable until the end. It truly was a love letter to the strange and macabre — as well as all the spooky people out there who like their partners a little… undead. 

Lastly, I think the movie was so well put together design-wise. The colours were gorgeous and saturated, and the scenes were well-lit. I honestly think we need more films using warmer colour tones and brighter pieces that are fun and stylish. I am also incredibly tired of movies being too dark, just because the characters can’t see doesn’t mean I shouldn’t. 

The outfits were well-designed, and you can definitely see the references to 80s horror films, with modern adjustments. Lisa Swallows is a fashion icon, I don’t care that she kills people. I support women’s rights and women’s wrongs, especially when they look that good. 

The soundtrack was also perfect for the vibes of the movie — mysterious and weird yet slightly nostalgic. It kind of reminded me of the Coraline soundtrack in a way, a mixture of whimsical and haunting. 

I truly wasn’t sure how to feel about this movie right away, but after some digestion, I think it’s one of my favourite releases in a while. I love horror movies usually, and I was delighted to see this gorey rom-com lean fully into its disturbing roots. It was a mature film, awkward as we all are. It’s almost like when you see a really interesting bug someone stepped on — it’s hard to look away even if you don’t actually want to see the guts. This movie forces you to look at the guts, and you come out of it loving the colour of them. This isn’t made for everyone, and there will definitely be people who don’t resonate with this genre of discomfort. But I personally think this is a near-perfect movie, and I hope it gains some more traction. I fear we have a new cult-classic on our hands, Diablo Cody has done it again with Lisa Frankenstein

Rhyanna (pronounced Rye-Anne-Uh) is a BSc Psychology student at the University of Waterloo, with a passion for research and writing. After her studies, she hopes to become a psychiatrist, working specifically with children. She started writing poetry in middle school and has been published in the Young Writers of Canada collections and won awards for her creative literature. Since then, she has made it a long term goal to write a poetry collection of her own. Rhyanna loves all things Halloween and shows this adoration by watching horror movies in cozy pajamas, going to themed events, pumpkin carving and planning an incredible costume every year. She also enjoys playing the flute, reading novels, online shopping, and volleyball. When exam season comes around, you can expect to find her in the kitchen baking endless sweet treats to avoid doing any work.