For those who don’t know, Shudder has a new exclusive that was released April 11th starring Chloe Sevigny (Who once had a bad relationship with a Ghost) and Kristen Stewart (who famously had a love triangle with a werewolf and a vampire). I jumped on the opportunity to watch it as soon as possible, I had always grown up hearing about the legend of Lizzy Borden and listening to the 80s hair metal band of the same name. Their big song “Me Against the World” fits perfectly with the theme of the movie and is suggested listening for sure.
So, without further ado; Lizzie, a movie about pears, pigeons and patricide.
A pear? Yeah, a pear. Lizzie is a bit of a twisting turning story that shows the complete story of what may have happened in a non-linear way of storytelling. It starts with Lizzie being interviewed by the police with a strange interaction about pears, that for some strange reason comes up repeatedly throughout the movie. It does a fantastic job of painting the picture of the inner workings of the Borden family, keeping somewhat historically accurate by giving nudges to the frugalness of the Lizzie’s father despite being extremely wealthy. The first thing I thought as the movie started was “Ooooh I love violins”, as the soundtrack is laced with eerie violins which to me is what a lot of modern horror is missing, sadly, the frequency of the eerie violin was not enough throughout the whole of the movie, but pigeons were.
Pigeons? Yeah, pigeons. The first portion of the movie really sets up how much of a piece of human of debris Lizzie’s father is. Not only is he touchy feely with the help, but he murders like 10 of Lizzie’s pigeons for seemingly no reason. Like, bro, the fuck did those pigeons do to anyone? And to top it off, HE MADE LIZZIE EAT HER OWN PIGEONS BRO! Deep fried them birds and served them with biscuits. Savage. If he was my dad, he would have gotten the axe too. And this is where we get to the heart of the matter, Patricide!
Actual picture of her father’s skull. Word of advice never mess with a woman’s pigeons. Shortly after the great pigeon massacre of 1892 the movie really turns it into higher gear laying out the infamous double homicide. It delves into many little character details that would get those who are unfamiliar with the story to start guessing what’s going on, even thinking, who done it? The breaking point for Lizzie comes after the most discussed part of this movie and a heavily featured portion of the trailer. The Lizzie Borden/Bridgette Sullivan love affair. I was debating commenting on this portion of the movie as its been done to death but hear me out.
Once upon a time in the 1970’s they inserted this type of girl on girl sexual tension in horror movies for almost no reason at all and it was called exploitation, today it is applauded as progressive. Sure, the sexual scenes in this movie were nothing like The Demons (1973) or Daughters of Darkness (1971) but were they absolutely necessary to the overall plot?
Yes. They 100% were! And that what makes this movie great. Lizzie’s scum bag father’s reaction is what sets in motion the final act of the movie.
Now the last 40-ish minutes of this movie are love/hate for me. No one really knows what happened at 92 Second Street on that fateful day in August in 1892 but this movie puts together a mostly plausible theory of what would have happened. Including gratuitous pear picking, gratuitous pigeon decapitation and gratuitous nudity. But you may be thinking; what is there to hate? To me, the last 40-ish minutes were great, but they probably could have been the last 20-ish minutes.
Usually a bit of a long run time isn’t enough for me to give a lower rating to a movie, but here’s my issue. I’m watching this thing just imaging what it would be like if it was made in the 1970’s by a crazy Italian filmmaker. I’m currently working on a Top 10 banned movies list which has me diving deep into movies like Hell of the Living Dead, Zombi 2 and Killer Nun and I can’t help to wonder what Lizzie would have been like if it was made in 1979 directed by Lucio Fulci. So much more hatchet to the face smashing gore, so much more gratuitous girl on girl sexual tension and so much less pigeons.
Overall, I give Lizzie a 4.5 out of 5. The ½ star comes from solely from the best line in the movie. This is America sir, every man with a pulse has enemies.
Eric also dived into Lizzie and is here to share his personal review:
Contrary to my expectations of an ax wielding slash-fest, Lizzie was a slow-burn that throws the viewer into the patriarchy of the 1890’s. Set to a soundtrack that transitions between a chittering fever-dream for intense sequences and a haunting drone during the mysterious scenes, this movie attempts to explore a possible motive for the now-famous murders.
While Lizzie does take a lot of liberties, it’s clear that the writers were somewhat familiar with the source material. The film opens with an eerily accurate recreation of the actual crime scene photographs, and there are small tidbits from the case (like Lizzie laughing at the top of the stairs) that are thrown in as a nice counter-balance to the speculation.
With that said, the pace is very slow and would be otherwise grueling were in not for the excellent performances by Chloë Sevigny and Kristen Stewart. Sevigny, in particular, is excellent playing the intellectual struggling against a suffocating culture of propriety. Stewart’s role is more one dimensional, however she pulls off the timid outsider well (in no small part due to her amazing Irish accent).
Although it was slow, Lizzie never lost my interest and is worth checking out. I give it three zombie fingers out of five.
Lizzie is currently available on Shudder. Director: Craig William Macneil, Cast: Chloë Sevigny, Kristen Stewart, Kim Dickens
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