Spend Your Saturday Night With ‘Lizzie Borden Took An Ax’ Starring Christina Ricci And Some Mighty Good-Looking Skulls
I feel pleased to be watching this knowing literally nothing about the story except the nursery rhyme, which means I’m way behind the curve on Lizzie Borden Took an Ax, unlike last week’s Flowers in the Attic, where like everyone of a certain age, I knew every nook and cranny. OK, parent killing. Let’s do this.
Before we go any further, let’s get out of the way the fact that Christina Ricci was not in any way cast in the part because of even a superficial resemblance to Lizzie Borden. This is Lizzie Borden.
This is Christina Ricci.
Is Christina Ricci hot in this? Yes, but only in the way that Christina Ricci is never not hot. Her hotness here, however, is undercut by layer upon layer of period clothing and the limited range being Lizzie Borden demands. Basically, Ricci is just one constant 1000-yard stare that occasionally takes a break for evil smirking and creepy “I’m about to lose my mind” humming.
She’s a blooming young woman full of petty defiance, committing minor thieveries because she can, and because it gets the attention of her fantastically rigid father.
TRIGGER ALERT AND SPOILER WARNING AND PRO-TIP: there is totally an ax murder!! There is really no way you will think anyone but Lizzie Borden did it! At first, it is not bloody, but then we get to see bits of it over and over, and we get our blood, as god intended.
It does not look like 40 or 41 whacks. We feel highly cheated. Later in the trial, and from our helpful friend Wikipedia, we learn that she only — ONLY — whacked daddy 11 times and mommy 18 or 19. It’s like our entire murder-themed nursery rhyme jump rope song was a filthy lie.
Lizzie gets hauled in for the murders pretty much right away, which you know because you too can read Wikipedia, therefore it doesn’t count as a spoiler. Once the wheels of justice start a-turning, Ricci plays the part for all it is worth. Lizzie Borden is at first completely disconnected from reality and seems genuinely confounded as to why anyone thinks she crimed her parents, even though she legendarily didn’t like stepmommy at all and had what can only be termed a complicated relationship with daddy. She vociferously presumes her innocence while destroying key evidence, but destroying it in a stupidly obvious “oh hi, I did a crime” way. Basically, Lizzie Borden DGAF.
Also, did you know that in olden times if you got questioned by the police and it made you anxious, your doctor would come to the house and give you some morphine? We did not know this! We want morphine for our mild anxiety, but we probably don’t want to have to murder anyone to get it. That seems a bit much. It allows Ricci to spend the next chunk of the movie in a wide-eyed morphine haze, though, which is just right for her giant child eyes.
Midway through the movie, we pivot to a Casey Anthony/OJ/George Zimmerman style courtroom drama. The coroner describes each blow of the ax, drags the jurors out to the Borden house, and, in by far the best part of the movie, the smashed in skulls of mommy and daddy make an appearance at trial. Yay smashed in skulls!
Besides the skulls, Ricci is the only thing you will recognize in this teevee movie. Everyone else is either a nobody or a Hey It’s That Guy buried so far beneath period wear that you can’t quite figure out who it is. But it doesn’t matter, because the skulls steal the fucking show. Also, Christina Ricci is hot, even when she plays a perhaps literally criminally insane or maybe just stone cold evil parent killer.
Lizzie Borden Took an Ax airs on Lifetime (natch) at 8pm Eastern on Saturday, January 25. Are you going to watch it? Oh, of course you are. This is what teevee movies were meant to be.