Directed by Craig William Macneill
After a few prior retellings of the axe murderer’s story on film and television, director Craig William MacNeill’s unnecessary “Lizzie” lands with a thud. A decidedly sexual reimagining of the Borden myth, “Lizzie” makes a love affair between Lizzie (Chloe Sevigny) and the family’s housemaid Bridget (Kristen Stewart) a catalyst for the gruesome killings.
Bad acting on all sides is one of the reasons for the film’s demise. I’ve never been particularly moved by Chloe Sevigny—she’s a wholly unaffecting actress, if you ask me. In “Lizzie,” she does nothing to change my opinion of her. As Lizzie’s sister Emma, Kim Dickens (who I absolutely loved in “Fear the Walking Dead”) seems out of place. Maybe it’s her out-of-place Southern accent or her tan, which makes the pale Sevigny look like a ghost…something doesn’t seem right. Even Kristen Stewart, who has been taking better roles lately, and giving them better effort, takes a step backward. Her spotty Irish accent is comical, and her character’s docile demeanor is not a good look for her—though an unfortunate rarity, I prefer Kristen Stewart characters that have control of their situation (like in “American Ultra” or “Snow White and the Huntsman”).
Maybe worse is the film’s score—sharp violin notes and the quick tapping of a high-pitched piano key sound like they’re coming from a CD of Halloween sound effects you’d buy at Party City, not the work of a professional composer. Jeff Russo’s work on the “Fargo” anthology series is good, as I recall, so I’m not sure what went wrong here. Other moments where “Lizzie” tries to introduce traditional horror elements also come and go without producing their desired effect. “Lizzie” is a thoroughly boring, pointless retelling—not that any of the other Lizzie Borden stories I’ve seen have been any good. It manages to be less interesting than reading Lizzie Borden’s Wikipedia entry, so just do that instead.