Lizzie Borden Took An Ax, the latest made-for-TV movie churned out by Lifetime, stars Christina Ricci in the titular role of the young woman who may have slaughtered her father and stepmother in cold blood.

Lizzie Borden Biopic Airs On Lifetime

Ricci, as critics point out, is at home in the role of Borden – channeling both unnervingly calm psychosis as well as believable innocence when it’s called for. Clea Duvall (21 Grams, Girl Interrupted) also shines as Borden’s sister, who reluctantly chooses to believe Lizzie’s assurances that she's not guilty.

Lifetime chose to give the legendary, true story of Lizzie Borden a makeover, eschewing facts in favor of adding more drama to an already unbelievable truth. The result, according to critics, is something that resembles camp – but not of the enjoyable variety one generally seeks out on Lifetime.

Critics Weight In On Lizzie Borden Took An Ax

“[Lizzie Borden Took An Ax] is not only conventionally done, but provides virtually no insight into its title character. That’s because the entire movie is essentially just an extended preamble to a sequence showing how the killings happened — or at least, might have happened. Until that point in the story, Lizzie Borden feels like a slog, while incorporating unorthodox touches that prove wholly arbitrary, such as a contemporary soundtrack.” – Brian Lowry, Variety

"With historical mood and attention to mundane detail lending dramatic credibility to pirates, vikings, ad executives and British aristocrats everywhere, director Nick Gomez and writers Stephen Kay and David Coggeshall rely instead on a head-banging soundtrack and Ricci's enormous eyes to add what they must have considered a "cool" psychological twist.… Unfortunately, the image of a woman presenting a carefully innocent mien to the world while disposing of bloody weapons in the basement walks a fine line between horror and camp. And this Lizzie Borden stumbles far too often into the latter.” – Mary McNamara, Los Angeles Times

"The only thing better than an attractive lady ax murderer, apparently, is a naked attractive lady ax murderer.Christina Ricci nails that role in Lizzie Borden Took An Ax, the latest retelling of the 1892 case in which Andrew and Abby Borden had their heads bisected with a hatchet. As Lizzie, Andrew’s daughter and Abby’s stepdaughter, Ricci also brings plenty of creepy to the story.” – David Hinckley, New York Daily News

An encore of Lizzie Borden Took An Ax airs Friday, Jan. 26 at 9/8c.

– Chelsea Regan

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