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Lizzie Borden Took an Ax January 27, 2014

Posted by Rusty in 17-20, lizzie borden, Uncategorized.

This movie was a bummer. A shame, since it had all the right components: Massachusetts setting, axe murders, Wednesday Addams. These are all the things that I like very much! This movie was directed right at my wheelhouse! But goodness gracious what a bore. How can you combine Wednesday Addams and axe murders and get something so vanilla?

Murder Eyes, they're watching you!

Murder Eyes, they’re watching you!

We’re in Fall River, Massachusetts in 1892. You think Fall River is terrible now (spoiler: it is), imagine Fall River before they got their paws on that battleship that all the Boy Scouts visit. But Lizzie only lives an hour outside of Cape Cod, so things can’t be all bad. Lizzie is a preacher’s daughter who lives with her older sister and her stepmom. The dad is a strict skinflint (as The Good Book teaches!) which bothers Lizzie. Lizzie likes the parties and the champagnes and even has a line of credit at the old-timey dress shoppe. She is basically 19th Century Fall River’s answer to Paris Hilton. How will these two resolve their differences?

We don’t get the chance to find out (OR DO WE!?) as Pastor Borden ends up with a terminal case of the face holes. Lizzie finds the body and screams and the maid calls the police. The police are there checking for evidence when, surprise!, they find Lizzie’s stepmom in her room. The face holes were contagious! Lizze had earlier told the maid that Mom got a note saying a friend had taken ill and had left the house to meet her. No note, no leaving. That doesn’t look good for Lizzie.

Of course, no one wants to blame this meek 22-year-old girl for slaughtering her family. And with no physical evidence linking her to the crime, the police spend some time focusing on the Help.

This is a big case, so the Commonwealth of Massachusetts sends down the best prosecutor they’ve got. He immediately concludes that Lizzie Borden is guilty. How else could someone kill a woman, lie in wait in the house for 90 minutes, kill the Pastor, and then ditch all of the evidence? Lizzie’s alibi is fairly weak. She claims she was in a shed on the property clearing our a pigeon coop and eating pears. Three pears. “WHO EATS THREE PEARS IN A HOT AND DUSTY BARN!?” yells the prosecutor in what has to be one of the best sentences ever said on Lifetime. One pear is, normal, I guess. Two pairs is really pushing it. But three? Three pears? What kind of sordid hedonist eats three pairs?

Lizzie starts destroying evidence (like her dress with the mysterious blood-colored “stew” stain) which leads to her being interrogated on the stand. Lizzie prepares for her time on the stand by getting a good night’s sleep, wearing her Sunday best, and doing an ass-ton of heroin. Lizzie doesn’t do a very good job of testifying on her own behalf and gets charged with murder. Oh, also, there’s a one second shot of a bloody axe before we go to commercial.

The movie is guilty of doing tons of that shit. Weird one second shots of axes before commercial, single frames of a woman’s back, and the soundtrack. Can’t forget the soundtrack! The movie is filled with some Black Keys knockoff blues rock band in the background.* It’s atrocious. So, to be clear, the movie is guilty of being boring AND ugly AND loud.

*Someone on the Twitters pointed out that Lizzie Borden has the same soundtrack as Black Snake Moan. Don’t think that was a compliment

Lizzie is charged and then nothing of consequence happens for an hour. Lizzie’s older sister (who has an airtight alibi that doesn’t involve produce) is called to the stand. Lizzie tells Big Sis to tell the truth. Instead, she perjures herself by saying that it was her idea, not Lizzie’s, to destroy evidence. She also says Lizzie never showed signs of having a temper (cut to a flashback of Lizzie throwing a glass at her stepmom). The prosecution is getting their asses whooped, so they go to the oldest trick in the book: entering skulls in as evidence. When Lizzie sees the skulls, she faints and then BOOM another commercial.

I noticed this with Flowers in the Attic too. When did Lifetime forget how to transition into commercial breaks? There’s a “big” “plot” point or “shocking” “twist” and without getting half a second to marinate on it, I am watching a commercial for a prescription drug that helps with post-menopausal intercourse. It’s distracting.

Oh, the skulls are never mentioned again. It is never made clear how they implicated Lizzie in any way.

Lizzie is acquitted after an hour of deliberations and is free to go. She immediately jumps back on the party circuit where she is treated like a carnival act. But, hell, she likes the attention. When Big Sis calls her out for that, Lizzie tells her that she did in fact murder her family. She stripped naked, axed her stepmom, changed back into her clothes, ate three pears, waited for her dad to come home, stripped naked again, and axed her dad before changing back into her dress to “find” the bodies. THE END!

Lizzie Borden ended up becoming a spinster. She never married. No kids. Which is clearly beneficial to Lifetime since no one can sue for libel on the family’s behalf. Can you imagine if they did that to Amanda Knox? Christ. Lizzie Borden was acquitted not because she was a lady and ladies aren’t capable of murder. She was acquitted because she, most likely, DIDN’T DO IT.

Bill James, the father of advanced baseball stats, wrote a book on popular crime and spent a chapter focusing on Lizzie Borden. Conclusion: there was no way that Lizzie Borden could have been convicted of murder. Is it implausible for someone to lay in wait for 90 minutes in a house after killing someone? Yes! You know what else is implausible? “She stripped naked, axed her stepmom, changed back into her clothes, ate three pears, waited for her dad to come home, stripped naked again, and axed her dad before changing back into her dress to “find” the bodies.”

Anyways, BOOOOO. I got your back, Lizzie.


I guess some props should go out to Christina Ricci for treating the material like it wasn’t a big, fat joke. She was clearly a cut above the other actors, so, bully to her. But the rest of the movie was awful. Intrusive soundtrack, a plot that didn’t make sense (they never, ever established a motive for Lizzie murdering her family, but the movie did go out of its way to establish that half of Fall River hated the Bordens), and these stupid flourishes that are supposed to be scary, I guess. They’re just distracting.


I just finished Season 2. No spoilers!

I just finished Season 2. No spoilers!

Christina Ricci will always have a place in my heart for guiding me through puberty, but she isn’t a big name anymore. What has she been in the last five years? Bucky Larson? Oh, Lizzie’s sister was played by Clea DuVall. Always nice to see her get some work.

The prosecutor was played by Hollis from Scandal. YOU WILL PAY FOR DEFIANCE, SIR!


More lady baddies. Weird. Anyways, there wasn’t really anything Lifetimey about this movie other than plot sagging over the final hour.


WOOF! The movie was bad and I am DISAPPOINTED. I had been looking forward to this for months. MONTHS!