DVD Review: Flowers in the Attic (2014)

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Some 27 years after the first movie based on V.C. Andrews’ popular novel, the Lifetime network offers another iteration of Flowers in the Attic. This one stars Heather Graham as flighty Corrine, the mother of four children produced by an incestuous relationship with her uncle. Her coldhearted mother, Olivia, is portrayed by Ellen Burstyn. When Corrine’s husband/uncle dies suddenly, she takes her kids to live with her rich parents. The only problem is that her ailing father doesn’t know the children exist. Well, that plus the fact that Olivia believes them to be Satan’s spawn.

The kids are locked away in the attic so as not to disturb their grandfather. Corrine promises this uncomfortable living situation will only last until the old man kicks the bucket, at which point she’ll inherit millions. But weeks turn to months and the children become malnourished. The older children, Christopher (Mason Dye) and Cathy (Kiernan Shipka), become de facto parents to their younger twin siblings—even developing a romantic relationship, in light of the total lack of alternatives. With their mother happily away on shopping sprees with her new beau, Bart (Dylan Bruce), the kids must figure out how to escape their prison.

The problem isn’t that Flowers explores taboo, abhorrent behavior. It’s how glibly it does so, without a shred of psychological depth. This is grotesque exploitation, good for nothing more than a few cheap thrills. Kayla Alpert’s dum-dum dialogue makes no attempt to probe the psyches of these damaged, disturbed characters. It’s hard to fathom how Graham and Burstyn apparently had nothing better to do than sign on for this tripe, but they’ll apparently be back in the already-in-preproduction sequel, Pedals on the Wind (set to air on Lifetime in May). There’s obviously an audience for this, but it’s hard to understand why anyone wouldn’t demand something more substantial.

Lionsgate’s recently released DVD contains a 12-minute promo featurette in which the filmmakers speak about the “beauty” in the story. Not as depicted here. The best that can be said about this Flowers in the Attic is that Mason Dye and Kiernan Shipka turn in sturdy performances as brother/sister/lovers, but they won’t be in the next one. Taking place several years later, Pedals on the Wind will find them replaced by Wyatt Nash and Rose McIver.

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Chaz Lipp writes for The Morton Report.

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