I am Lisa premiered at the virtual edition of Frightfest 2020 and was an enjoyable watch for fans of werewolf and revenge thrillers alike.
Written by Eric Winkler and directed by Patrick Rea, I was keen to see the World Premiere at the virtual edition FrightFest 2020. I have been following I am Lisa on social media pages and know how much heart was put into this indie film.
Lisa (Kristen Vaganos), has recently moved back to her hometown after inheriting the used bookstore that was left to her by her grandmother. After being harassed and sexually assaulted by Jessica (Carmen Anello) Lisa goes to the police to report it, but instead of doing something about it the corrupt Sheriff (Manon Halliburton) and her deputies facilitate and take part in a brutal attack on Lisa. Lisa is left for dead in the nearby woods, and there she is bitten by a werewolf and bestowed with supernatural abilities.
The question becomes, can Lisa retain her humanity as she exacts her revenge, or will she lose herself in the lycan aspects of her personality?
I found Lisa immediately relatable. Lisa is a warm and likeable character with a similar style and interests to the audience - including myself. This makes the bullying and violence exacted on her by the films antagonists all the more difficult to bear. However, her story resonated deeply with me and I was rooting for her throughout.
The deliberate irony that Lisa was attacked by the very people who were meant to protect her was not lost on me. Many women who have experienced rape and sexual violence are often severely let down by the justice system - so victims are very much ‘left to the wolves’ - including societal judgements.
I am Lisa is intended to be a revenge film. The most brutal part of this was definitely the assault on Lisa. As audience members may well be haunted by their own experiences - and potentially triggered by the attach - a film can only feel truly cathartic if any revenge on the antagonist is just as vicious - or even more so.
The use of the werewolf trope in a female-centred revenge film is a fascinating one. Usually the trope is used to show a man struggling against his animalistic urges. However, Lisa’s metamorphosis explored her (justified) grief, anger and ultimate empowerment after her attack. As the Lycan aspects don’t completely overtake Lisa - her change revealed through her eyes and teeth rather than a full on transformation - we never lose sight of her journey as a character. Vaganos’s heartfelt performance as Lisa, and the friendship between her and Sam (Jennifer Seward) is incredibly tender and authentic as she comes to terms with what has happened to her.
The excellent performances from the acting, scoring, practical effects and cinematography will hopefully make mainstream audiences seek out more indie horror. I am Lisa is an enjoyable watch for fans of films such as Ginger Snaps. The film is on general release at selected theatres from October 9 2020. Follow I am Lisa on Facebook