Sibling love takes on a whole new meaning in Lifetime’s adaptation of V.C. Andrews’ Flowers in the Attic, which debuted Saturday (8/7c). But did you think the cabler’s take on the incestuous tale was sinfully good or devil’s-spawn bad?
Before you weigh in, a brief recap: Everything looks rosy as we meet the golden Dollanganger family: mom Corinne (Heather Graham, Scrubs), dad Christopher Sr., son Christopher Jr., daughter Cathy (Kiernan Shipka, Mad Men) and twins Carrie and Cory. Everything’s rosy – even if Corinne at times seems decades younger than her teen offspring – until Christopher Sr. is killed in an accident.
Deep in debt, Corinne tells the children their only hope is to return to her wealthy family’s home in Virginia. What she does not tell them, at least not at first: She and her parents are estranged, because she fell in love with and eventually married her father’s younger half-brother. Yep, Christopher Sr. was actually Corinne’s uncle. (And if that icks you out, it’s probably best you don’t continue reading.)
“Love doesn’t always come when you want,” she foreshadows advises the children. “Sometimes it just happens against your will.”
Corinne’s plan is to ease her way back into her father’s good graces (and his will). And while she does that, she tells her wary kids, they’ll have to be stashed up in the estate’s spacious attic with only her and their harsh grandmother (Ellen Burstyn, Political Animals) to visit. She promises it will only last a day or two.
Two years later, the jig is up. Christopher and Cathy realize that their mother has moved on – she even has a new man (played by Dylan Bruce, Orphan Black), and she’s never going to tell anyone about her four secrets upstairs. To make matters worse, Grandma is convinced that the two oldest Dollanganger kids are getting it one (something about them being born of wicked seed)… so naturally, they wind up getting it on.
When the teens do kiss (and eventually make love), it’s as wrong as it is inevitable. And icky. But even more disturbing: Mom Corinne has secretly been poisoning her brood via arsenic-powdered donut, a tactic that eventually kills Cory. And when Christopher learns that their grandfather actually died seven months before, he decides it’s time to go.
Thanks to a claustrophobia-paralyzed Grandma, a rope out the window and a sympathetic servant, the surviving kids make a run for it and catch the first train out of their personal hell. As the screen fades to black, Cathy vows that they’ll someday get revenge on their MIA mom.
Shipka is the best thing about the remake, but even she can’t make the tawdry tale into more than a designed-to-titillate movie-of-the-week. Kudos to Burstyn, though, who somehow manages to give Grandma some depth between the switch beatings and the Bible quoting.
That’s what we thought, and now it’s your turn. Grade Flowers in the Attic via the poll below, then back up your choice in the comments. And remember: God is always watching!