When it comes to cutie pies in horror movies, none stand out as much as the young woman who captured our dark imaginations as the twisted daughter of The Addams Family. Ladies and gentlemen, this month’s icon is none other than Wednesday Addams….erh, I mean, Christina Ricci.
Born February 12, 1980 in Santa Monica, California, Christina is the fourth and youngest child. Her siblings are Rafael (born in 1971), Dante (born in 1974) and Pia (born in 1976). Her father, Ralph Ricci, is a lawyer and group therapist. According to Christina her father, before becoming a lawyer, was a lay practitioner of "primal scream therapy"--wherein it was believed that patients could purportedly scream their way to a psychological breakthrough. While growing up, Christina could hear the screaming coming through the vents in her room (her father did his therapy sessions at home), and would act them out in front of her mother.
Christina’s movie breakthrough would come alongside singing powerhouse and legend, Cher, in Mermaids in 1990. A year later she would work with Michael J. Fox and James Woods in The Hard Way.
That same year Christina got her first taste for the dark side, staring as the gloomy Wednesday Addams in The Addams Family. Working alongside Christopher Lloyd, Raul Julia and Anjelica Huston, Christina’s dead pan expressions stole the show and quickly gained her fame among a young audience. (Fun Fact: Hatchet star Mercedes McNab appeared in both The Addams Family and The Addams Family Values)
Two years later in 1993 Christina reprised her role as Wednesday Addams in The Addams Family Values. My favourite scene in the entire film is during the play at the camp when Wednesday breaks from the script and beings to adlib before the Indians attack, burning the camp and the play to the ground. There was that feeling of genuine fear from Amanda Buckman (Mercedes McNab) when she realized that Wednesday was uncontrollable. Plus the scene was hilarious.
In 1995 Christina continued along the child-friendly film route with Casper. While Casper, like The Addams Family, is considered comedy, family and fantasy movies, for younger audiences they can be quite terrifying. (Fun Fact: A young girl who I use to babysit was terrified of Stretch from Casper and had nightmares about him)
It would be four years before the horror genre came knocking on Christina’s door again. In the meantime she kept busy with a body of outstanding work including films like Now And Then, That Darn Cat, The Opposite Of Sex and I Woke Up Early The Day I Died.
In 1999 Tim Burton and fellow Horror Icon alumni Johnny Depp teamed up to make Sleepy Hollow. The headless horseman was back and he was coming for Christina. I’ll admit I loved Sleepy Hollow. The acting was good, the script was solid and Johnny and Christina had some real chemistry going on. Even Casper Van Dien’s performance was solid. (Fun Fact: In real life Casper is related to the Van Tassels family which was portrayed by Christina) If you haven’t seen Sleepy Hollow, do yourself a favour and get a copy. It truly is an enjoyable movie.
In 2000 Christina found herself once again in the horror genre in the movie Bless The Child. Staring alongside Kim Basinger, Rufus Sewell and Ian Holm, Christina showcased her talents in a vastly underrated movie. There is some excellent suspense throughout the movie as well as a few shocking scenes of true horror violence. This is “shocking” because the movie was rather family-orientated up until those points.
Underrated, yet decent, Bless The Child is a good movie with a strong, positive, good message. It’s not something you can watch repeatedly over and over again, but it is worth a second and third viewing.
In 2002 Christina became Miranda in Miranda. This thriller/comedy/romance story captivates the audience and shows off Christina’s talents to their fullest extent. Kyle MacLachlan also stars. The storyline is a librarian begins a passionate affair with a mysterious woman who walks into his library. When she suddenly disappears he travels down to London to search for her only to discover that she has three identities - dancer, dominatrix and con-woman. But which one is the real Miranda?
I highly recommend Miranda. It’s an amazing piece of cinematic work.
As 2003 rolled around so did The Gathering. While going to the town of Ashby Wake, the drifter Cassie (Ricci) is hit by a car driven by Marion Kirkman and loses her memory. Marion invites Cassie to stay in her huge old house with her family, while recovering from the trauma. Cassie becomes very close to Michael, the young son of Marion's husband Simon Kirkman. He is researching a recently discovered buried church from the First Century, with images of the crucifixion of Jesus and many anonymous persons watching it. Cassie starts having visions and premonitions with some locals, and decides to investigate the weird and nasty mechanic Frederick Michael Argyle. Her findings about who she is and the mystery relative to the locals and the town surprises her.
The Gathering lacks originality or genuine horror but that doesn’t mean it’s inferior. The cast were amazing and the setting was gorgeous and not some creepy small town. If you want a low-budget horror movie and are a fan of Christina’s then I recommend watching The Gathering.
That same year Christina stared in Monster alongside Charlize Theron about the life of one of America’s first female serial killers, Aileen Wuornos. Christina plays Selby, Aileen’s girlfriend and does an amazing job despite her character being completely fictional to the real story of Aileen Wuornos.
Monster is a fantastic piece of work and a highly recommended movie. Though not a horror movie as such, Aileen’s crimes were certainly horrific. (Fun Fact: Kane Hodder arrests Charlize Theron in the same bar where the real Aileen Wuornos was arrested)
2005 saw Christina Cursed. No, not really but she did star in a fun werewolf movie entitled Cursed. Writing by Kevin Williamson and directed by Wes Craven, Cursed in a fun werewolf film that combined horror with the trademark humour we’ve come to know and love from Wes Craven films.
Starring alongside Jesse Eisenberg and Joshua Jackson, Cursed is about Ellie (Ricci) who has been taking care of her younger brother Jimmy since their parents’ death. One night after picking him up from a party they are involved in a car accident on Mulholland Drive. While trying to rescue a woman from the other car a creature attacks and kills her, also injuring both Ellie and Jimmy. After some research Jimmy realizes the creature could only have been a werewolf.
I really enjoyed Cursed as did my circle of friends. It’s a fun, feel-good horror movie that left us rolling around on the floor in stitches when Ellie is describing what the werewolf looks like before it burst through a window and flashed her the middle finger. Cursed is a really enjoyable movie, even if it does lack in the fright we’ve come to know and love from Wes Craven.
The horror genre would knock on Christina’s door again in 2009 but in-between she showed off her acting chops with movies like Speed Racer, Black Snake Moan (highly recommended) and All’s Faire In Love.
But it was After.Life in 2009 that saw Christina return to horror with a vengeance. Working with Liam Neeson and Justin Long, Christina finds herself in a truly disturbing movie. After a horrific car accident, Anna (Ricci) wakes up to find the local funeral director Eliot Deacon (Neeson) preparing her body for her funeral. Confused, terrified and feeling still very much alive, Anna doesn't believe she's dead, despite the funeral director's reassurances that she is merely in transition to the afterlife. Eliot convinces her he has the ability to communicate with the dead and is the only one who can help her. Trapped inside the funeral home, with nobody to turn to except Eliot, Anna is forced to face her deepest fears and accept her own death. But Anna's grief-stricken boyfriend Paul (Long) still can't shake the nagging suspicion that Eliot isn't what he appears to be. As the funeral nears, Paul gets closer to unlocking the disturbing truth, but it could be too late; Anna may have already begun to cross over the other side.
After.Life is without a doubt one of the best films I’ve seen in a long time. The story was gripping, the acting was brilliant and the film itself was just incredible. I highly recommend seeing it if you haven’t already.
Since then Christina has steered clear of the horror genre, opting for appearing on television in Pan Am as well as doing movies that more animated like The Smurf 2 as well as the up coming animation The Hero Of Color City.
Also coming up for Christina is Unmasked, a thriller about a man who joins a dangerous and mysterious club in order to re-live the worst day of his life. She’s also in pre-production for the Untitled Lizzie Borden Biopic for TV in which she’ll play Lizzie, a young woman tried and acquitted in the 1892 murders of her father and stepmother.
Christina Ricci. From child star to talented young actress, this gorgeous woman knows exactly what it takes to draw the audience in through her characters and make them believe in what they are seeing. Her constant return to the horror genre or to horror related movies is the reason why she is a Horror Icon.
Rhiannon Irons’ Top 5 Christina Ricci Movies
1) The Addams Family (1991) – Was there any doubt this would make my list. The dead-pan expression was perfection. We love Wednesday.
2) Sleepy Hollow (1999) – Christina Ricci getting it on with Johnny Depp – how can you pass over that? Oh yeah, and there’s a headless horseman.
3) Miranda (2002) – Underrated but a fantastic performance by Christina. A must see film.
4) After.Life (2009) – You’ll be left scratching your head wondering how can you save yourself if you’re already dead.
5) Monster (2003) – An outstanding film that shows Christina’s range perfectly.