Written by: Matt Molgaard
Historically speaking the Borden case remains one of the most perplexing and discussed crimes in American history. While I don’t know all of the “facts” as they’ve been documented (forgive me, it’s been some time since I read up on the obscene incident), I do know that Lizzie Borden appeared to be the clear culprit in the case of both murders, yet conflicting testimonies helped ensure that a jury of her peers could not justly find the youngster guilty of murder. I know both murders bore the telltale signs of passion crimes, which only seems to further support the idea that Lizzy was indeed a murdering lunatic. Just the same, she walked away from the whole ordeal and no one else was ever subsequently charged for the crimes.
That’s the info as I recall it. That said, the new Lifetime film, Lizzie Borden Took an Ax takes some of the well reported issues to bold new heights (or despicable new lows, depending upon how you view things), painting Lizzie a cold blooded killer while leaving viewers absolutely zero doubt of her malevolent ways. In fact, as the pic winds down there’s a moment between Lizzie (Christina Ricci) and her older sister, Emma (Clea DuVall) in which Lizzie appears to confess to both murders. Even without such a revelation, Ricci portrays an evil, vile, seedy little creature who seems to – at times – almost suffer from some sort of multiple personality disorder. It sure as hell isn’t a change seeing this woman take an ax to anyone’s head. Whether Lizzie Borden killed her parents or not, the Lifetime network seems extremely anxious to generate the idea that Lizzie was without question a guilty bitch.
Maybe she was. Maybe she wasn’t. The fact is we’re not likely to ever know the irrefutable truth, and at this point it really doesn’t matter. What matters at this point – more than 100 years after the fact – is that Christina Ricci just uncorked a brand new trick that we haven’t seen yet! Ricci’s been around for years, and she’s approached an extremely eclectic blend of pictures. She’s clearly not bound by ideal or content. This woman pushes the boundaries, and she turned the dial up to about 12 for this made-for-television chiller. Ricci is so convincing that I’m left to question the 20-year crush I’ve carried around. Too. Damn. Creepy.
The awesome Stephen McHattie makes an uncredited appearance, but sadly, he plays the role of Andrew Borden, which means he’s not going to claim too much screen time. This story isn’t about the childhood of Lizzie Borden, it’s about the moments in which she allegedly kills her parents and the trial that ensued. As important a man as he was in this twisted tale, Andrew Borden really isn’t too front and center for this particular telling. DuVall is still awesome, and still underrated and Billy Campbell makes for a believable defense attorney. All in all, this is a strong cast.
Lizzie Borden Took an Ax bears the mark of exploitation, but I’d be a liar if I claimed it didn’t work at entertaining me. This one had some eerie shots, a couple decent gore grabs and a stellar showing from Christina Ricci. Deep down, this may have been a cheap maneuver for the Lifetime network, but it was a pleasantly disconcerting cheap maneuver. I’ll take it however I can get it.