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REVIEW: ‘Lisa Frankenstein’ showcases Liza Soberano’s comedic prowess

By Jerald Uy Published Feb 07, 2024 5:19 pm

As they say, “The best revenge is massive success,” and fittingly enough, Liza Soberano’s debut Hollywood film Lisa Frankenstein is set to shun naysayers who mocked her decision last year to get out of her comfort zone, exploring opportunities in Los Angeles and South Korea—after revealing the unpleasant experiences she had in Filipino productions.

The breakout star of Lisa F. is Liza S. With her comedic timing and natural charm, she stands out in the horror comedy, written by Diablo Cody, renowned screenwriter of the coming-of-age film Juno and the Tony-winning musical book writer of Jagged Little Pill. In the film helmed by first-time full-length film director Zelda Williams, Soberano plays Taffy, a cheerleader with a soft spot for her socially awkward stepsister Lisa Swallows, portrayed by Kathryn Newton (Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania).

In her Hollywood debut, Liza Soberano plays Taffy, Lisa's sweet but sharp-tongued stepsister.

As the title suggests, Lisa plays mad scientist with her undead lover, the Creature, played by Riverdale’s narrator of all things weird, Cole Sprouse. With a backstory that pays tribute to 80s serial killer movies and the obvious reference to Mary Shelley’s gothic novel Frankenstein, Lisa and the Creature navigate teenage angst, love, and heartbreaks in a mash-up of B-horror and thriller movies.

Similar to how the 1992 film Death Becomes Her mocked Hollywood’s obsession with vanity through plastic surgery, Lisa Frankenstein pokes fun at teens’ insecurities, whether it is not having tanned skin or not possessing a humongous penis.

But at its core, it carries the message that traumas and grief cannot disappear overnight or in a few months. The period where the film is set, the 80s, was still a time when discussions on mental health and wellbeing were not as open as now. Although, arguably, the stigma of mental health still exists to this day.

The message is more pronounced to people who are aware that the filmmaker is the daughter of the late comedian Robin Williams. Comedy and the concept of death are not easy to combine in a full-length narrative in the world of woke but Zelda Williams and Cody pulled it off.

Kathryn Newton and Cole Sprouse cause mayhem in the name of love as Lisa and the Creature in Lisa Frankenstein.

So for the most part, enjoy the dark comedy for what it is. It is freaky, bloody, horny, and, ultimately, it is funny.

And much like the movie, this is also a revenge arc for Liza Soberano. Her comeback, no less than a Hollywood offering, is riddled with star-making moments for her. Her mean girl quips and believable acts of distress pivot the viewers to reality and ground the story. Lisa Frankenstein is a great match for Liza, who's now proving she can play any role—from a rom-com darling to a scream queen.

Lisa Frankenstein opens in Philippine cinemas on Feb. 7. Watch the trailer below.