The costumes looked good. Sorry, I just wanted to get my only positive comment about this movie out of the way right off the bat to save Lifetime the energy of reading my whole review if they decide to borrow a quote for one of their promos. It probably won’t come as a surprise that Flowers in the Attic – or, as it should have been called, WTF: The Movie — was a disaster of incestuous proportions. The dialogue was unrealistic, the acting was cringe-worthy, and I spent the entire runtime with my jaw on the ground. It was pretty much impossible for it not to be bad, given the subject matter. And let’s face it, none of us wanted it to be good. Then how would we laugh at it?
I’ll start off by confessing that, unlike editor-in-chief Jenni, who so hilariously live-tweeted the movie as Crushable last night, I’ve never read V.C. Andrews’ novel or seen the 1987 movie. I somehow escaped that trauma as a preteen, because I guess I was too busy reading Walk Two Moons. I thought about watching the original on Netflix to prepare, but I
got lazy decided it would be more fun to go in with as little knowledge as possible. I once was blind but now I see. I specifically see a brother and sister making out, which is something I never want to see again.
When the movie first introduces us to the Dollanganger family, we learn that they’re very beautiful and perfect and happy. You can tell that because A.) that’s literally all the characters talk about, and B.) everything is shot in the brightest sunshine that ever existed. It’s in these scenes that we get our first taste of Heather Graham’s performance as Corrine Dollanganger. Let’s just say she makes some interesting acting choices, specifically the choice not to act at all. How bad is she? Let’s just say Lindsay Lohan watched this movie and went, “Wow, she sucks.”
Just as the family is preparing to surprise Mr. Dollanganger with a birthday party, a policeman walks right into their house and up the stairs without ringing the doorbell to inform them that the birthday boy’s been killed in a car accident. Wow, what a party pooper. Naturally they’re all pretty sad about it, especially Corrine, whose grief is signified by her flat hair and drab gray robe. The family’s in debt and Corrine doesn’t want to get a job because the only thing she’s good at is being pretty (her words). So the only thing left for them to do is move in with Corrine’s mother, despite the fact that just a scene earlier she said “some mothers are impossible to love.” But even unlovable mothers can be rich, which is really the most important thing.
So Corrine takes her children — Christopher, Cathy, Cory and Carrie (the original Kardashians) — to Foxworth Hall, where her mother Olivia (Ellen Burstyn) gives them a warm welcome by locking them in a spare room and saying, “God sees what evil you do behind my back.” Aren’t grandmas the silliest? She adds that they can play in the attic, but she’ll never go up there because she’s claustrophobic. Wonder if that will be important later. Meanwhile, Corrine explains to the kids that her father doesn’t exactly approve of the decisions she’s made, so they’ll have to stay in hiding until she can work her way back into his heart, and also his will. Mostly his will.
I should probably mention now that Cathy is played by Kiernan Shipka, whom I fear will be forever typecast as “well-dressed but emotionally traumatized girl in mid-century America.” Her brother Christopher is played by Mason Dye, whose age I just looked up (he’s 19) to give myself permission to type HOLY INCEST LOOK AT THOSE ABS. Cathy is skeptical about Corrine’s intentions, but Christopher is stupidly trustworthy, mostly because I’m pretty sure he’s in love with her. Turns out lusting after blood relatives is ironically in his blood, because Corrine soon tells them this really funny story about how their father was actually her half-uncle. Kiernan did a really great impression of the face I was making when I watched this scene. That face was absolute horror, by the way.