The premiere of Lifetime’s television movie Flowers in the Attic has come and gone. We’re still sitting on the couch trying to figure out what we just witnessed.
Yeah, yeah. Flowers in the Attic was originally a 1979 book by V.C. Andrews. It caused quite a stir as it revolved around child abuse, incest and the demonizing of religion. It was banned from many schools and libraries, and who could blame them? So we knew what we were getting ourselves into based on the description and history of the book.
Still, seeing it in action — watching some of our favorite actresses do unthinkable things — made for a rough two hours. And there are some things that we’ll never be able to unsee. For instance:
- Heather Graham as a bats*** crazy mother
At first, Corrine (Graham) seems basically sane but just a little distraught over the loss of her husband. There are incestuous undertones from the very beginning, but it’s hard to know what to believe. She eventually claims that the children’s dead father was her half uncle, but deep down, we can’t help wondering if they were actually siblings. And because the grandmother is so crazy-obsessed with the idea that Corrine and her father had an unhealthy relationship, it doesn’t seem very believable. Until, you know, suddenly — it seems to be entirely the truth.
Worse still is when Graham plays this needy, wild-eyed princess. She flits in and out of her children’s prison, seemingly unaware of their strife. Two hours later, we’re still not sure if Corrine was a heinous witch who purposely abandoned her children or if she was just crazy enough to think it was no big deal.
- Ellen Burstyn as a bats*** crazy granny
Holy moly. Because Corrine is so clearly a spoiled, crazy princess, we’re still not entirely sure if the grandmother (Burstyn) drove her to insanity or if it was the opposite. Either way, Burstyn did a killer job of playing a crazed, terrifying grandmother.
Our one caveat: Being able to control such evil with the flick of a light switch is too big of a stretch. She’s terrifying, controlling and demented. But darkness immobilizes her? Who wrote this book — a 6-year-old?
- Kiernan Shipka modeling lingerie… for her brother
Put on some clothes, Sally Draper!
The crazy grandmother began accusing Cathy (Shipka) and Christopher (Mason Dye) of incestuous thoughts from the very beginning, so it only seemed inevitable that the two would hook up. The worst part wasn’t the inevitable morning after but the awkward lead-up to it. There’s the scene where she caught Christopher with the really old porn magazine. Awk. Then later, there’s the scene where her mother bought her some new underwear and Christopher walked in on her and he awkwardly tried to compliment her. Worse, though, was when they were robbing their mother’s room and Cathy put on one of her mother’s negligees and tried to pull a compliment from her brother. We winced. What else could we do?
- The rat poison on the donuts
Eventually, the kids find out that the reason Cory died and they’re all sick is that the grandmother has been putting poison on their food. She seems to have put a particularly lethal dose on those powdered sugar donuts. In other words… we’ll never trust another food item that’s been dusted with “powdered sugar.” Thanks a lot, V.C. Andrews.
There’s not much else to say about Flowers in the Attic. The acting and cinematography were of far better quality than what you’re probably used to from Lifetime movies. At the end of the day, though, we’re not sure we’d ever want to sit through it again. We did discover that the book was actually just the first in a series. So, if you want to find out what happens to Cathy and Christopher after they (SPOILER), you can probably hunt down the next book. Or, who knows, maybe Lifetime will make a sequel. Will we watch it? Probably — but only because we love you.