Sunday, January 19, 2014

Flowers in the Attic

Lifetime, the network that brought you Mother, May I Sleep with Danger, has teamed up with VC Andrews, the woman who wrote the short story “I Slept with My Uncle on My Wedding Night” to bring us the tale of the burgeoning suffragette movement of the early 20th century. Strike that, the story of a bunch of kids locked in the attic of their rich grandma, who are later poisoned by their mother, and then the two older kids have sex. Yeah, that sounds more like it. Featuring Kiernan Shipka as Sally Draper Cathy and Heather Graham as Cathy’s evil mother Corrine, this totally true story, well kind of true, I mean it happened to this guy that VC Andrews met one time, Flowers in the Attic promises to deliver the great cinema we’ve come to expect from Lifetime.
  • This family couldn’t appear more wholesome if they were figures out of a Norman Rockwell painting of The Brady Bunch. = -6pts 
  • That necklace Dad brought home for Heather Graham just bought him a night of vanilla 1950s passion. = +4pts 
  • Sally Draper pulls a Dawn from Buffy by turning her father’s job promotion into a “What About Me?” moment. = -10pts 
  • Haven’t seen acting this poor since the Lifetime movie immediately preceding this one. = -14pts 
  • Seriously, Heather Graham manages to deliver every one of her lines like she’s reading it for the first time from the back of a napkin. = -25pts 

  • So, cops can just let themselves into your house? Had the 4th Amendment to the Constitution not been ratified yet in the ‘50s? = -4pts 
  • That tender coming of age moment where your mother tells you that the bank is repossessing all your belongings to pay down your dead father’s debts, and how you’re going to have to move in with her estranged, millionaire parents. = +7pts (We think that’s something that all of us can relate to.) 
  • Grandma considerately offers to raise the volume of her voice; inconsiderately offers a punch to the jaw. = -3pts 
  • Lifetime encourages viewers to tweet using the hashtag “Bad Grandma.” #poorviewingdecisionsmadetonight was too unwieldy. = -9pts 
  • Bad Grandma roughs up some toddlers. She knows you have to take out the toughest ones first in these situations. = +6pts 
  • “God sees everything. God sees what evil you do behind my back” is how we are ending every one of our conversations from now on. = +15pts 
  • Heather Graham’s character married her half uncle. Can someone please send us a picture of VC Andrews’ uncle? He must be smoking hot. = +12pts 
  • “Sometimes love just happens… against your will.” In a film about eroticized child abuse and sibling incest, this line somehow manages to be the rapiest thing about the movie. = -9pts 
  • Bad Grandma gets weirdly specific and asks Sally Draper, “Has your brother asked you to pose without your clothes on?” Grandma wants to hear every detail, slowly and from the beginning. = -7pts 
  • Heather Graham’s father forgives her on the condition that her marriage produced no children. Suddenly, we have a vision of this film as a Weekend at Bernie’s-esque screwball comedy. = +10pts 
  • Science alert: Cure for suffocation = a warm bath = -16pts 
  • Bad Grandma sneaks into a locked room at night, bastes Sally Draper’s hair with tar, and slips away without alerting any of the four sleeping children in the room. What ashram did she go to for her ninja training? = +9pts 
  • Sally Draper is forced to cut her hair and looks like Young Charlie from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. = +10pts

  • If you're really so concerned with preventing your teenage grandchildren from banging each other, you should probably rethink your plan of keeping them confined to close quarters for years and forcing them into situations where one of them is shirtless. = -8pts 
  • While scrounging for money in preparation for their escape, Sally Draper comes upon Heather Graham’s Picture Book of Monster Intercourse. = +11pts 
  • Sally Draper and her brother engage in an incestuous relationship! Absolutely none of the press surrounding the movie prepared us for this shocking twist! = +18pts

  • Spoiler Alert: Poisoned donuts look delicious. = +3pts 
  • Bad grandma’s reign of terror ends when the kids simply shut the attic door. VC Andrews must have had some other stuff to do that day. = -13pts 
Total Score: -19pts
Available on: Reruns on Lifetime, under the pillow of every 12-year-old girl born in the ‘80s whose mom had a library of trashy books

Surprise, surprise, a movie whose major selling point is teen incest turns out to be way less fun than it sounds. There’s something indelible about Flowers in the Attic’s lurid premise, a gothic fairy tale written for the bodice-ripper set. In the hands of the right filmmaking team you could see this twisted tale of adolescent sexuality, religious mania, and seductive greed transformed into something approaching art. Maybe it wasn’t such a good idea, then, to pull Andrews’ wooden dialogue verbatim from the book. As for Heather Graham, don’t worry. We’ll always remember you as Annie Blackburn in Twin Peaks.

Score Technicians: Amanda Hemmerling and Joe Hemmerling

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