Inverse Recommends

The Year’s Best Sci-Fi Comedy Finds Life After Death On Streaming

I can’t fight this streaming anymore!

Focus Features
Inverse Recommends

There are some movies that just don’t do well in theaters, but find the audience they are meant for later in their life cycles. These cult classics often go on to have more relevance than traditionally “successful” movies. A great example is Jennifer’s Body, written by Juno writer Diablo Cody and directed by Karyn Kusama. It had an underwhelming box office release in 2010 but has gone on to become a feminist cult classic with a second life on streaming.

This year, a spiritual successor to Jennifer’s Body is following a similar path, releasing earlier this year to underwhelming reviews and even more underwhelming box office returns. But thankfully, Lisa Frankenstein can still find the audience that would appreciate its twisted, gothic teenage love story for what it is: a movie for the weirdos.

Fourteen years after Jennifer’s Body, Diablo Cody comes back with Lisa Frankenstein, a take on the classic reanimation story with a 1980s twist, directed by Zelda Williams. It follows Lisa (Kathryn Newton), an introverted seamstress who spends her spare time in a graveyard to avoid her preppy new stepmother and stepsister.

After making a wish during a freak lightning storm, Lisa finds herself face-to-face with The Creature (Cole Sprouse), a 19th-century bachelor who was killed as a young man. Lisa’s journey with the Creature begins as just an E.T.-style series of attempts to keep him hidden, but eventually, the two begin helping each other out. Lisa uses her seamstress skills and her stepsister’s conveniently broken tanning bed to replace all of the Creature’s body parts that have rotted away, and the Creature helps Lisa find newfound confidence, while helping her work through the loss of her mother.

But this isn’t as simple as any teen love story. Their romance has a body count, a factor that isn’t hand-waved away. In fact, the real-world stakes of this movie build to a finale that would only be possible in a movie as dark as this. It’s a risky ending, but it’s more than earned.

Cody’s script plays on every 1980s teen romcom trope while seamlessly incorporating elements from the movies that subverted the genre, like Weird Science or Heathers. It also never loses sight of the story that inspired it: Lisa Frankenstein might extensively feature a severed penis, but it also makes time to pay homage to the poem Frankenstein author Mary Shelley’s husband wrote about her.

Over the course of the movie, Lisa looks more goth and confident and The Creature looks more like Cole Sprouse.

Focus Features

Adding to this is Zelda Williams’ direction, who has a surprising amount of reverence for the 1980s. The music isn’t just a rehash of a nostalgic mix CD. It dives deep into what Lisa would actually listen to at the time, including a singalong to REO Speedwagon’s “Can’t Fight this Feeling” with a questionable amount of irony.

Lisa Frankenstein didn’t do well in theaters, but it’s absolutely made for success on streaming. It’s the kind of movie that you stumble upon late and night and get sucked in instantly. It’s an instant cult classic, a movie made for sleepovers and Halloween movie marathons. Like the Creature itself, its initial life is only the first chapter in what’s sure to be a long story.

Lisa Frankenstein is now streaming on Peacock.

Related Tags