Lisa (Kristen Vaganos) moves back to the small town she grew up in following the death of her grandmother. Taking over the running of the family used book store, Lisa is targeted by Jessica (Carmen Anello), a mean girl she used to go to school with who also happens to be the daughter of the town Sheriff (Manon Halliburton). Following an altercation, and against the advice of her best friend Sam (Jennifer Seward), Lisa reports Jessica to the Sheriff but her complaint falls on deaf ears as the family assaults her and leaves her for dead. Barely surviving the ordeal after fending off a wolf that bites her, Lisa hides out at Sam’s and begins to plot her revenge.
I Am Lisa is written by Eric Winkler and it takes inspiration from both revenge films such as I Spit On Your Grave and the werewolf genre. Combining the two elements makes the film refreshing and it gives it an originality that makes it stand out from the pack. Lisa starts off the film as a fairly meek and mild girl who is frightened of ruffling feathers, and too scared to stand up to Jessica when she helps herself to an expensive book in the shop. The film switches gears once Lisa is assaulted and that’s where things start to get interesting.
Following her ordeal, Lisa starts to feel differently and notices things about herself that are changing. She suddenly craves meat, despite being a vegetarian, and her senses are heightened. Not sure what’s going on, she starts to fight between her conscience and her instinct as her lust for revenge becomes stronger. Using the werewolf angle gives the film an interesting subtext as Lisa is forever change by what she goes through so to have that manifest through an actual physical change is clever.
The central performance from Kristen Vaganos is strong. She’s a compelling presence on screen and the transformation she goes through over the 92 minutes is impressive. Vaganos is very good at bringing the humanity of Lisa to the surface, even when she’s struggling to control her gradual transformation into a werewolf. She’s the strongest member of the cast by far and this performance marks her out as someone to keep an eye on. The rest of the cast is varied but they all give decent enough performances.
The main complaint I’d level at I Am Lisa is that it takes a little too long to get into the story. It’s a slower than it needed to be build up to Lisa’s ordeal and personally I’d rather have seen the aftermath play out a little longer. It’s a small complaint though and what director Patrick Rea has managed to achieve on a presumably modest budget is impressive. The film has a strong visual style and the story does keep you hooked.
I Am Lisa is a nice surprise. With so many werewolf films out there, it’s nice to find one that genuinely has something new to say. With a strong performance from Kristen Vaganos and impressive direction from Patrick Rea, it’s a solid genre hybrid that shows there’s still life left in both the revenge and the werewolf tropes.
Cast: Kristen Vaganos, Jennifer Seward, Manon Halliburton, Carmen Anello, Chris Bylsma, Cinnamon Schultz, Shawn Eric Jones Director: Patrick Rea Writer: Eric Winkler Certificate: 18 Duration: 92 mins Released by: