You’ve heard the rhyme before: “Lizzie Borden took an axe, gave her mother forty whacks.” But the trailer for Chloë Sevigny’s Lizzie, her long-gestating dramatization of the real-life alleged murderess’ story, is here to prove that creative speculation can be just as powerful — and harrowing — as historical facts.
Starring Sevigny as the titular character accused (but never convicted of) of hacking her relatives to death in 1892 Massachusetts, Lizzie presents Borden as a Victorian spinster repressed by the staunch house rules of her misogynist father, Andrew (Jeff Perry) and his submissive wife, Abby (Fiona Shaw).
With no outlet through which to express her disgust with the patriarchal society around her, Lizzie finds comfort in her family’s live-in servant, Bridget (Kristen Stewart), whom she ultimately forms a sexual relationship with. The pairing may or may not have grim consequences down the line after Andrew kills (and later serves for dinner) Lizzie’s pet pigeons and sexually assaults Bridget — acts which seemingly bring both women to a bloody solution to their woes.
“To your knowledge, did your father have any enemies?” a disembodied, interrogating voice asks Lizzie near the end of the trailer. “This is America, sir,” she responds as a shot of Sevigny’s blood-spattered face flashes onscreen. “Every man with a pulse has enemies.”
Over the course of the last decade, Lizzie has existed in various incarnations, at one time even living at HBO as a planned miniseries after Sevigny and screenwriter Bryce Kass devised the idea following a few haunting encounters at the Borden family home (now a bed & breakfast). The project finally had its world premiere at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival in January, and will be released in theaters this Sept. 14. Watch the full trailer above.