Flowers in the Attic was originally a book written in 1979 by V.C. Andrews. Then it was adapted into a movie in 1987 and now on January 18 there will be another movie adaptation available by Lifetime. If you combined We Need to Talk about Kevin and The Great Gatsby with a dash of a twisted Brady Bunch family you’d be close to what you’ll find in this story. Heather Graham (Academy Award and Golden Globe winner) and Ellen Burstyn (Emmy Award-winner) star in this chilling story about four kids who are locked away from the world.
The four Dollanganger children are forced to move to their grandparents’ house with their mother after their father dies leaving the family broke. Their grandfather doesn’t know they exist and their mother, who is trying to weasel her way back into the family will, isn’t about to let him find out in fear he’ll turn her away. The kids are forced to live in secret upstairs, promised by their mother that they will be freed once their grandfather passes.
If you’ve read the book you’re probably wondering how it’s being translated into a Lifetime movie. Don’t worry; the movie is a TV-friendly-version. The older brother doesn’t have to feed his blood to his siblings in this version and the grandmother doesn’t inject any of the kids with morphine. Even though it tones down some of the mental and physical horrors the kids went through, it keeps enough to still be haunting. It is also a much truer representation of the original storyline than the first movie was. It corrects a lot of the changes that were made in the first movie. So if you were a fan of the original horror novel you’ll definitely be pleased.
If you’re into suspense films this is a must see. The whole time (even though I knew the full plot) I was wondering if the kids would make it out. Some people get scared when they watch movies with giant spiders, demons or what have you. I get scared when I watch movies about insane people who can hide that crazy and fit in with the rest of the world. Flowers in the Attic features not one, but two of those kind of people: the grandmother and the mother. How a mother could abandon her children in the same home she was once abused is beyond me. The grandmother genuinely believes the kids are the spawn of the devil. If that doesn’t keep you up at night thinking, I don’t know what will.
Also, this is one of those movies that the whole time you find yourself thinking: What would I do? There are some questionable actions on the behalf of the older two kids. It’s easy to rush into saying gross! However, you can’t really know. I won’t spoil for anyone who hasn’t read it/seen the first movie, but it definitely threw me for a loop.
Flowers in the Attic is a good reminder that mental abuse can be just as reckless as physical endangerment. The four Dollanganger kids are locked up for about two years together hidden from the world. Even if that’s all that happened in the story, being locked away like that is tortuous to even think about. No sun, no air, no new people to see-talk about stir crazy!
It’s not all doom though. Despite all the horrible things going on around her, Cathy (played by Kiernan Shipka), the oldest daughter is someone to root for. Without her I don’t think I would’ve connected with the children as much. Shipka brings a certain tough spunkiness to the character that I didn’t feel as much in the original movie. Cathy is the character that gives you hope to keep watching. That’s refreshing to see in a movie of any kind.
I loved the Lifetime adaptation of Flowers in the Attic. I even rewatched the original movie in preparation. Watching them back to back was fun to remind myself which parts I was rooting for to be done better. Since I’m always a fan of a closer literal interpretation I was very pleased. If you like creepy movies about whacked out families this is for you. If you like movies about what would people do in crazy situations this movie is for you. And if you’re just a sucker for seeing people in clothes from the old days and a good Lifetime movie, this is for sure your movie! Be sure to tune into Lifetime for the premiere Saturday, January 18, 2014.