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The Student News Site of Altoona Area High School

Mountain Echo

The Student News Site of Altoona Area High School

Mountain Echo

Lisa Frankenstein is an underappreciated ‘weird girl’ movie

Lila Benjamin
The release of “Lisa Frankenstein” on February 9, 2024, has made it the best movie of the year so far. [Made with Canva]

For the last two years, I’ve had an infatuation with the coming-of-age subgenre of movies that are considered “weird girl films.” This type of movie normally follows an unpopular, strange, or off-putting girl during her everyday life, often being interrupted by an abnormal experience. A prime example of this and maybe even the mother of the categorization would be the 1976 classic “Carrie” directed by Stephen King. My personal favorite is the 2000 masterpiece “Ginger Snaps,” which follows an estranged teenage girl trying to go through high school while unknowingly turning into a werewolf. Since discovering this movie, I’ve found nothing that equates to its perfection. Now, I can say with certainty that “Lisa Frankenstein” is what I consider to be the best release of this year and a perfect continuation of the strange genre. It’s campy, artistic and a perfect ode to the post-punk style of the 1980’s. 

Ever since a teenage Mary Shelley wrote her Gothic novel “Frankenstein,” the classic has flourished among scholars, fans of the macabre and critics alike. This movie has a clear, whimsical inspiration from notable director Tim Burton while continuing the famous story of something- or someone- being brought to life.

It’s 1989. The movie follows the main character, Lisa Swallows as she is situated in a new town with her now-blended family. Lisa loves to sew, write poetry and watch old horror movies. She carries a fascination with an ancient headstone in a rundown and supposedly haunted cemetery, visiting it against people’s warnings. After a bad storm, the tombstone is struck and a Frankenstein-esque creature is brought to life. Lisa is flanked by her bubbly step-sister Taffy. Her new family member tries her hardest to make Lisa feel included; taking her to parties and permitting her to wear any clothes from her closet. Lisa now has to hide her new undead friend from the world while also juggling the fact that the creature is in love with her. 

My favorite part of this movie is the attention to detail. Every set has an artsy and intentional feel. Lisa’s bedroom is probably my favorite one shown. The writers give her so much personality without having to physically speak it. Her room screams who she is as a person, and has a true lived-in feel. I love that she has a “Violent Femmes” T-shirt that she gives to the monster and a “Bauhaus” poster on her wall, two bands that not only I love- but are accurate to what a goth teenager would listen to. The entire film feels like a love letter to not only the 1980’s but to the alternative fashion and music movement that many teens were a part of and still follow today.

Another thing I  enjoy about  this movie is the artistic creativity. Scenes are funny, but not overdone. All of the dialogue flows naturally, and Lisa, as a character, is wonderful. She’s a great contrast to her bright pink house and colorful life. Even though she dresses darkly, she isn’t a bland and monotone person. She has a very unique personality. Upon finding a giant monster in her house, she’s comical and upholds her unique personality. A lot of characters in films have specific personalities, but don’t act the way their personality would naturally upon facing the throes of whatever film they’re in. It’s a pet peeve I’m sure a good amount of people have, so it’s refreshing to see an accurate portrayal of a character. I don’t think anything in this movie fits a stereotype or outline that other movies often follow. Even though it’s a love story, there isn’t a ton of cheesy romance put in. It’s as natural as a zombie movie can be. 

The only negative thing I have to say is the ending feels rushed. Nevertheless, it’s still emotional and funny. Without spoilers, I would say that the climax was weak. The build-up was there but could have had a better turning point that led to the end of the movie. Things seemed improvised, and the pacing was sped up a lot to get to the credits faster. After the climax things go back to being evenly paced, so I’m unsure why the main conflict had to be so choppy. All of the other reviews I’ve found online are negative. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but I think being critical of a  fun, campy piece isn’t worth anyone’s time. If people are looking for something serious and mind-altering then I wouldn’t suggest this film. I don’t think the director intended it to be anything deeper than cinematography, humor and teenagers. But for what it is, it’s far from terrible.

I think this is a great movie for fans of Edward Scissorhands. The two have a very similar plot without being on the nose. It’s different in a good way and holds a new level of authenticity I haven’t seen many modern movies have. A cool fact I learned while researching for this review is that the writer of the masterpiece “Juno,”- an amazing teen flick that I think has the most realistic and funny line delivery of any movie ever- wrote this story too. The director working with her is none other than Zelda Williams, daughter of Robin Williams. Overall, this production has a lot of credibility and impressive people under its belt. And it shows. Movies today tend to stick to being as realistic as possible. “Lisa Frankenstein” is a great, bubbly and memorable weird girl movie that breaks the barriers of modern film.

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