Flowers in the Attic January 20, 2014Posted by Rusty in 30-36, flowers in the attic.
Before Saturday night, I didn’t know a thing about Flowers in the Attic. I knew there was some incest, which, I guess, is kind of a big thing. The incest is notable. Very notable incest. But, beyond that, I just knew that a great many of my lady friends – H$ included – have read Flowers in the Attic and have a special place in their heart for it. And they all told me to watch the Lifetime adaptation because the book was crazeballs. I straight up accused one of lying to me when she told me a character gets tarred. Literally tarred. Well, she made an idiot out of me.
(A quick note: I “livetweeted” this whole shebang at my personal account. It went very well! But the pressure of making dozens of spur of the moment jokes kind of takes away from the whole “pay attention and work on making jokes later” strategy I’ve been using since August, 2007. I might have missed some things while taking screenshots of a grandmother threatening her family with a knuckle sandwich.)
So we meet the, ugh, Dollanger family. All of their names begin with “C.” (Because of this, I am going to stick to calling Heather Graham “Mommy.” Going back and forth to make sure I have the right C-name; this is time consuming enough as it is!) The four blonde kids are called “The Dresden Dolls.” “They call us that because we look perfect.” “We are perfect,” replies the mother in the first of many examples of top-notch screenwriting. Anyways, they’re perfect family does not have a dad with a perfect driving record. The dad dies in a car accident right after getting that big promotion to Head of Sales! Aw, shucks!
So now we start learning some fun family secrets. The family’s wealth was built on credit. Which is to say the bank would like their stuff back, please. Oh, and Mommy and Daddy were also niece and uncle. So there’s that. Mommy and Daddy got disinherited from their family after eloping (THIS IS A REASONABLE REASON TO DISINHERIT SOMEONE!) and now Mommy needs to go groveling back to her wealthy, religious, anti-incest family to get back into the will. In order to do this, Mommy needs to pretend that her kids don’t exist since the kids are the product of Satan or something.
The only reasonable thing to do here is lock them in an attic.
Here’s what we’ve got: Christopher, Jr, probably around 16-years-old. Cathy, probably around 14-years-old. And twins, Carrie and Cory who are probably around five. We can forget about the twins. They are only good for getting pale and eating poison doughnuts. Let’s focus on the older kids, Christopher and Cathy. These two assholes are the stupidest kids in popular culture since Lex and Tim in Jurassic Park. Sixteen and 14 is old enough to know better about incest. And, probably more importantly!, it’s certainly old enough to not get physically abused by your crazy grandmother and old enough to make an escape. By the end of this movie you’d think these kids WANTED to stay in an attic.
Oh, the grandmother. She is played by The Wicker Man’s Ellen Burstyn. She is a national treasure. And she will not take any of your guff or backtalk.
Granny certainly has her talons in this family. She asks Mommy to show her kids what happens when people disobey, and Mommy reveals that her back has been all Kunta Kinte’d up. Granny loves her switch.
The plan here is to hide the kids in the attic, wait for the rich Grandfather to die, and then they can leave with their inheritance. This is a stupid plan. It’s kind of hard to predict when an old man will die. The getting back into the will part proves easy enough though. Grandpa throws a big party celebrating The Prodigal Mommie Dearest’s reunion with the family. Mommy even lets Christopher and Cathy sneak around the house to watch Mommy being showered with congratulations and jewels. They also find out that Mommy is dating a lawyer who doesn’t know about the kids.
So, here’s where I start to get lost. Cathy is complaining that they have been in the attic for over a year and they havent seen their mom in over a month. WHOA! Are we on Downton Abbey time? That was a 2001-esque flash-forward. That brings me back to how these kids are too old for this shit. Punch Granny in the face! Run! Do something!
Anyways, mom was honeymooning in Venice. And Granddad has been dead for months. The attic isn’t about secrets anymore. It’s about convenience.
So, naturally, when Christopher and Cathy escape the attic they spend the night swimming in a lake and handfeeding a deer. The movie has already shown that the train station is within walking distance of their mansion-prison. Go! You stupid fucking kids!
Mom’s new husband is later shown shooting the deer. Someone on Twitter pointed out that he was going “metaphor hunting.”
So while the Christopher and Cathy are doing an incredible job of not escaping their prison, Granny keeps accusing them of having inappropriate feelings towards each other. I mean, if you get burned by the incest bug once, shame on them. Get burned twice, shame on me.
Grandma gets burned twice.
Grandma does whatever she can to separate Chris and Cathy (except for, you know, NOT LOCKING THEM IN A FUCKING ATTIC) and even tries to ugly up Cathy by forcing her to cut her hair or watch the twins get starved out. They call Granny’s bluff, but Grandma win out by TARRING CATHY’S HAIR IN HER SLEEP. Chris helps cut the hair and begins half an hour of awkward touching and stolen glances that culminates in full blown intercourse.
Look, I love Lifetime and the source material here seems a wee bit over-the-top. I was ready for something ridiculous. It’s to Lifetime’s credit (?) that, man, this was GROSS. Ack. I will go out on a limb here and say that the scariest thing about a movie with so much physical abuse and torture was watching these two get completely unmoored and start boning each other. Props (??) to Lifetime.
Let’s wrap this up. All the kids end up sick and the boy twin even needs to go to the hospital. He dies. Turns out Mommy was putting arsenic in their doughnuts. The kids now – NOW! – realize they need to escape. Naturally, the family has built an electric fence around the perimeter of the property, so there’s no way out! Thankfully they run into Mommy’s new husband, explain that they are his secret stepkids, and HE ACCEPTS THIS NO QUESTIONS ASKED and helps them escape. THE END.\
AWESOMENESS: 16 (out of 20)
The dialogue was terrible, the kids were idiots, and the pacing was way, way off. The screenplay was amateur hour. But, man, at the end of the movie, I felt GROSS. The bad guys, Mom and Grandma, were off-the-rails evil and it was awesome. If I was flipping through and this turned up, I would keep it on. It’s like Lifetime-squared.
HEY! IT’S THAT GUY! 10 (out of 10)
I mentioned that Grandma was played by national treasure Ellen Burstyn. Burstyn was the bad guy in The Wicker Man remake, so she presumably knows how it got burned. Oh, she was also the lead in my favorite movie ever (The Exorcist) and was the female lead in Requiem for a Dream. Woman knows her way around the creepy.
Mommy Dearest was played by Heather Graham, aka Roller Girl from Boogie Nights. She was great in this. All of her bad actress tendencies were put to good use. The vapidness came off as creepy instead of, you know, vapid.
Cathy was played by Kiernan Shipka from Mad Men. She will be very famous some day and look back at this movie and have a good chuckle.
LIFETIMENESS: 7 (out of 10)
All the bad “guys” here were women. That’s unusual! The family unit was fine until the patriarch died. And what happens when you lose the man of the house? Your kids get locked in an attic! The stepdad was the only non-evil non-hostage in the whole movie. This movie was big on good dads.
GRAND TOTAL: 33 (out of 40)
Still, though. This movie brought the goods. Melodrama, incest, neglect, abuse, deer. I’m guessing Lifetime will rerun the Hell out of this, so set your DVRs accordingly.
And it’s good to be back! See you next week for the Lizzie Borden movie!