REVIEW: THE HAUNTING OF BORDEN HOUSE

 

CAST

Donna Spangler (Roots of Evil)
Simona Fusco (Extreme Movie)
Aaron Lee  (Deprivation)
Ashley Green Elizabeth (Muck)
Nikole Howell  (Famous In Love)
Nicole Holland (Mysteria)

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The film opens with 5 college kids renting rooms in a house in Fall River, Mass. (Don’t get ahead of me.) Taryn (Ashley Green Elizabeth) is the main character. Included in the group is her brother Michael (Luke Brandon Field) and his self centered girlfriend Nikki (Nikole Howell). Taryn’s BFF Jenna (Jamie Sarchet) and her church friend Scott (Jakob Renken).untitledThe film moves into a birthday party for Nikki with 5 extra invites while weird stuff is already happening, like Nikki sleep walking with an axe in her hand. At 40 minutes into the film, the plot is suddenly explained without any real clues about Taryn. The house is owned by Diana (Donna Spangler) who is described as “cool and eccentric.”american-poltergeist-2015-movie-mike-rutkowski-4-450x285

Early on there’s the usual noises off camera and lights flickering and some bog-standard set up pieces but it is really only when the ghostie properly appears that it gets interesting. All the murders mostly occur off camera too … The make up effects on Lizzie are reasonable enough and although it’s not likely to get the hairs on the back of your head moving it’s a fairly enjoyable low budget ghost story

 

 

 

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REVIEW: THE LIZZIE BORDEN CHRONICLES

MAIN CAST
Christina Ricci (The Addams Family)
Clea DuVall (The Faculty)
Cole Hauser (2 Fast 2 Furiuous)
GUEST / RECURRING CAST
John Heard (Prison Break)
Andrew Howard (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.)
Olivia Llewellyn (Penny Dreadful)
Jeff Wincott (S.W.A.T.)
Michael Ironside (Total Recall)
John Ralston (Bitten)
Bradley Stryker (Izombie)
Jessy Schram (Veronica Mars)
Jonathan Banks (Highlander: The Series)
Rhys Coiro (30 Days of Night: Dark Days)
Stephen McHattie (300)
Ronan Vibert (Hex)
Michelle Fairley (Game of Thrones)

What happens after Lizzie Borden takes an ax to her father and stepmother? Lifetime follows up its popular television movie from 2014 about the notorious accused murderess with an eight-episode miniseries sequel that becomes a guilty pleasure


Lizzie (Christina Ricci) has been cleared of all wrongdoing in those earlier killings, though the townspeople of Fall River, Mass. suspect that she’s gotten away with murder. Lizzie delights in her new infamy, taking all the shade-throwing stares in stride and scaring the local children as opportunity permits. Trouble comes quickly, however, when her father’s former business partner, William Almy (John Heard), makes claims on the Borden estate.  Suddenly, Lizzie and her sister, Emma (Clea DuVall), find themselves threatened with bankruptcy, which doesn’t please their deadbeat half brother, William (Andrew Howard), who has appeared out of the blue looking for a handout. As if that weren’t enough, there’s also the matter of the dogged Pinkerton agent Charlie Siringo (Cole Hauser), who has come to town with the express aim of proving Lizzie’s criminality. Even Better Call Saul’s Jonathan Banks shows up as a scarily temperamental gangster who does his best to intimidate Lizzie. What’s a girl to do in the face of all this threatening machismo but strengthen her resolve and sharpen ye ole hatchet? It’s not long into the first episode before Lizzie’s back to her murderous ways, bleeding men out with the well-placed stab of a hairpin or getting them drunk enough that they can more easily be pushed from high places with nooses around their necks.


The Lizzie Borden Chronicles best talent comes exclusively from Ricci and DuVall, who have a delectable rapport not too far removed from Bette Davis and Joan Crawford at their hag-horror peak in What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? Ricci’s porcelain-doll features make her seem even more alluringly alien now than she did as a child actress. There’s a winking self-consciousness to her portrayal of Lizzie that works to the character’s advantage; she’s like an out-of-time avenging angel, a feminist icon (before there were words to describe it) lashing out at patriarchy the only way she knows how. By contrast, DuVall is all plain-faced earnestness and the loving voice of reason that complements Lizzie’s lunacy, at least for now. It’s often tough to play the straight man to a more flashy companion, but DuVall does it exceptionally well.


The sisters’ relationship intrigues because it constantly seems on the point of implosion, and does come to a head by the end of the miniseries.

REVIEW: LIZZIE BORDEN TOOK AN AXE

 

CAST

Christina Ricci (The Addams Family)
Clea Duvall (Heroes)
Gregg Henry (Slither)
Stephen McHattie (300)
Shawn Doyle (Big Love)
Sara Botsford (The Fog)
Hannah Anderson (Backlash)
Andrea Runge (The Wisher)
Billy Campbell (The Rocketeer)

With Lizzie Borden Took an Ax, Lifetime is finally having some fun. Instead of a serious and somber tone, the television movie’s account of the infamous unsolved murders takes a lively approach (at least, as much as it can when portraying a double homicide). It’s also clear that Christina Ricci (Monster), who stars as Lizzie, relishes every moment of her portrayal, turning up the volume on her crazy eyes without spilling over into camp. The production’s choice of modern music also further ingrains the idea that this is a funkier retelling of the story, which has developed over the years from a tale of horror and media frenzy to becoming part of a schoolyard rhyme and pop culture.


There are many possible ways to tell the story of Lizzie Borden, who was put on trial and acquitted for the gruesome hatchet murders of her father and stepmother in Fall River, Mass., in 1892. The case against her was completely circumstantial, but convincingly so (and Lizzie herself didn’t help things by getting rid of pretty clear evidence). Still, there remain, then and now, several other possible scenarios regarding the crime and its perpetrator. Stephen Kay’s (The Mod Squad) script chooses a linear narrative without alternative scenarios; they may be hinted at, but there is one clear murderer, whose guilt is ultimately made unquestionable.


In addition to a fervent Ricci, the cast features Clea DuVall (Argo), as Lizzie’s stoic and loyal sister Emma, as well as Billy Campbell (The Killing), in a small role as the family’s attorney. But the movie really belongs to Ricci, whose seductive Lizzie takes some liberties with libertine behavior, giving retorts about being a Sunday-school teacher “only on Sundays,” with a devilish curl of her lip. After the murders, she often creeps up on her sister and the family maid, smiling with unblinking eyes. Though the jury of the day could not believe a woman to be such a “feral … insane fiend,” (to quote the prosecution), Ricci makes it easy to visualize the kind of nature that would have led Lizzie on such a spree.


As for the nurture, the portrayal of the Borden household as repressive and unhappy is brief though clear, with many salacious suggestions that there was abuse, and potentially incest, between father and daughter. But the bulk of the movie focuses on the aftermath of the murders, including Lizzie’s strange reaction and behavior, and the trial. While the courtroom scenes essentially rehash known facts — both from within the movie and for those generally familiar with the case — Nick Gomez’s (The Blacklist) direction keeps viewers engaged, and occasionally startled, with a number of stylish and gory flashbacks to the crime scene.


Lizzie Borden Took an Ax makes its position on her guilt very clear, and that alone makes it a distinctive offering in the canon of material on the subject. The movie is not interested in delving deep into Lizzie’s psyche, or creating a horror thriller, or even giving a full historical account about society, women, and the law. But the major and minor facts of the crime are all there, along with an inventive soundtrack that gives the sinister tale a strangely light tone.