Wicked (1998 film)


DVD Cover
Directed by Michael Steinberg
Produced by Frank Beddor
Written by Eric Weiss
Starring Julia Stiles
Michael Parks
William R. Moses
Music by Cliff Martinez
Cinematography Bernd Heinl
Edited by Daniel Gross
Distributed by Horizon Entertainment
Release dates
  • January 17, 1998 (1998-01-17)
Running time
88 minutes
Country United States
Language English

Wicked is a 1998 American thriller film starring Julia Stiles as a disturbed teenage girl.


16-year-old Ellie Christianson lives in an affluent neighborhood with her mother, Karen, younger sister, Inger, and father, Ben. Beneath their privileged lifestyle is one tinged with dysfunction and chaos. Ben is a workaholic with a hectic schedule that keeps him away from home for most of the day. Karen, meanwhile, passes the time by pursuing an illicit affair with the family's next door neighbor, Lawson Smith, while her daughters are getting ready for school. She impulsively fires Lena, her housekeeper, as a means to spending some free time with Lawson, and is completely unaware that a shocked Ellie has secretly witnessed one of their liaisons.

Karen has an ongoing tumultuous relationship with Ellie, culminating in a heated confrontation one day after the older daughter disobeys an order to not wear too much makeup at school. Ellie ends up remorselessly killing her mother in a fit of rage, then selfishly begins to assume her wifely duties to Ben by waiting for him in bed at night, dressed only in lingerie.

However, Ben gradually develops some romantic feelings for the former housekeeper, Lena, and they eventually marry. The impromptu wedding ceremony ignites feelings of jealously for Ellie as she wanted all along to be the lawfully wedded wife of Ben.

While the supposed "love triangle" is playing out in Ellie's twisted mind, her mother's tragic "accident" is investigated by Detective Boland. When Karen's "accident" is subsequently ruled as a murder, he names Ellie as the prime suspect. She immediately decides to run away from home, going to Portland with her dead mother's lover, Lawson, in tow.

After her family goes on an hours-long fruitless search for Ellie, she unexpectedly returns to the house. She is greeted by Inger, who knows full well what had really happened to her mother. The younger girl ends up murdering her older sister in cold blood, essentially inheriting her "wicked" nature.



Wicked debuted at the Sundance Film Festival in January 1998. It was shelved until Stiles' career ascendancy and re-released on video in 2001.

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