Review: Liza Soberano makes auspicious Hollywood debut 2
Liza Soberano and Kathryn Newton in 'Lisa Frankenstein.' Universal Pictures International

Movie review: Liza Soberano makes auspicious Hollywood debut

This had a vibe of 'Mean Girls' crossed with 'Edward Scissorhands.'
Fred Hawson | Feb 11 2024

It was 1989. Having witnessing the gory death of her mother, teenager Lisa Swallows (Kathryn Newton) was still reeling from the trauma. Her father Dale (Joe Chrest) soon married a nurse Janet (Carla Gugino) and they moved to the town where she lived. Janet was quite cold to Lisa, but her popular daughter Taffy (Liza Soberano), head cheerleader at school, was very friendly and helpful to Lisa as she struggled to move on and fit in.

An introvert and a misfit, Lisa frequently visited the local graveyard to read, where one particular grave fascinated her. She wished to just die and be buried with the dead Victorian era occupant inside. One night, a freak storm awakened the body of the Creature (Cole Sprouse), who then found his way to Lisa's house. After her initial shock and disgust, they eventually become friends as she helped him source and restore his missing body parts. 

Writer Diablo Cody is best known for winning an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay for "Juno" (2007), her very first script. From then on, her scripts usually have females as the lead character, like her directorial debut "Young Adult" (2011) to her latest before this one, "Tully" (2018). Misfit gets even is a common trope in teen films, but here, Cody wrote Lisa to have as much heart as she had a sense of humor and a streak of violence. 

This is the feature film directorial debut of Zelda Williams, daughter of the late Robin Williams. This had a vibe of "Mean Girls" crossed with "Edward Scissorhands." Logic was thrown out the door from the start, but then again you do not expect realism when one of the characters is a zombie. People do get killed in gory ways in this film, but this was rated R-13 locally (and PG in the USA), so the violence happens off-screen (bad news for gore fans).

Kathryn Newton made for a likable Lisa even if she went from shrinking violet to goth dominatrix. Cole Sprouse only relied on facial expressions and body movements to play the charming Creature, who could not control how his temper wielded his axe. 

Of course, in the Philippines, all the attention will be on the Hollywood debut of Liza Soberano. She had a key role, a great screen presence and she oozed with self-confidence -- auspicious indeed.

This review was originally published in the author's blog, "Fred Said."

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