A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Given that this story is about a family murder, positive messages are few and far between.
Positive Role Models
Just about everyone in the movie comes off well, except Lizzie. Emma Borden in particular is morally upright, and the rest of the cast has courtly Victorian manners.
Violence & Scariness
The mutilated body of Andrew Borden is shown repeatedly in grisly detail. We see blood and gore, and an ax attack that's particularly disturbing because it's committed by a family member.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
There are parties and flirting and kissing between members of the opposite sex. Lizzie was rumored to have a lesbian affair with an actress but that's just barely hinted at here. There is some uncovered flesh, but no private parts are shown.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Lizzie Borden Took an Ax is about a famous historical murder, which is shown repeatedly onscreen. The grisly murders are shot horror-movie style, with a flashing ax, splattering blood, and scary music. The violence is particularly disturbing because it occurs within a family; this is the stuff of a young child's nightmares. The mutilated bodies of both Andrew and Abby Borden are shown repeatedly during the movie. A large portion of Lizzie Borden is also spent in the courtroom; young viewers would swiftly grow bored watching talky testimony. In short, this one is not for young watchers, but mature teens may find the subject matter compelling -- just hope it doesn't give them any ideas. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
With her pointed chin and big, haunted eyes, Ricci makes a compelling and creepy Lizzie. She doesn't look like the real-life Lizzie, who was chunky and fair, but she certainly makes a believable murderess, and she's a lot of fun to watch (if your idea of fun is watching a loving, if strict, mother and father murdered in their own home). Despite being old enough for her father to call a "spinster," in true teen fashion Lizzie resents her parents for not giving her enough money and freedom. That's enough of a reason in her eyes to knock the couple off, though the movie doesn't confirm for the viewer that Lizzie did it until late in the proceedings.
Before that, there's a big hunk of courtroom drama that slows down the story considerably, a dead weight in the middle of the movie. The beginning is fantastic, as we meet and loathe Lizzie and absorb the Victorian milieu. Then the murders happen and we're stuck in a boring brown courtroom. Things liven up considerably by the end, as Lizzie reveals to her sister how she did it, as we watch her flailing with an ax or slipping out of her dress before attacking her father. It's gory, horrible, yet very compelling stuff. Does it make sitting through the courtroom scenes worth it? Maybe -- for those who have an interest in the real-life case. Casual viewers may want to schedule some multi-tasking during that part of the movie, and stick around for the unsettling ending.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.