Lizzie (2012)

The Lizzie Borden story is prime horror material because of the ambiguity surrounding the case. Did Lizzie Borden ax her family in 1892? A trial of her peers didn’t think so, but rumors and conspiracy theories abound-in part because Lizzie was a woman on trial for murder in 1892. Some things don’t really change; Americans don’t like to see a woman on trial.

Gender issues aside, there have been suggestions that Lizzie could have been framed-or that she was mentally ill and therefore was not aware of the ramifications of her actions. Regardless of what may or may not have happened that day, Borden was acquitted in the space of a hour and a half. The evidence was said to have been spotty and similar murders had taken place in the region prior to the death of her parents.

It leaves a lot of wriggle room for speculation in horror-especially because in horror lore, ax murders are prime material for hauntings. Lizzie is one of those films that I think could have been pretty solid…but falls painfully short of where it could be. When a woman named Lizzie moves back to Lizzie Borden’s haunting grounds (no pun intended), she begins to experience a series of odd events. Eventually, she becomes convinced that she’s seeing the murders play out-and is been attacked by the ghost of the murderess (?) herself.

The acting really drags this movie done. Often cardboard, sometimes stilted, and occasionally overblown it’s sort of like watching someone throw a temper tantrum for an hour and a half. One of the minor characters tells Lizzie (Amanda Baker) that she’s stupid, and while I know (and really want to not) that it’s not playing nice, Baker’s acting leaves it hard to disagree. It’s hard to care much about this cast. Even the effects are flat-and I’m not sure why the movie seems to think that they’re particularly original for a movie released in 2012.

I like subpar horror, it’s actually sort of my thing. But Lizzie just underperforms so completely that it’s hard to take it seriously.

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