Lifetime TV's 'Flowers in the Attic' is Creepy, Campy Fun

Kiernan Shipka and Ellen Burstyn in Flowers in the Attic on Lifetime TV
L to R: Kiernan Shipka and Ellen Burstyn in Flowers in the Attic

Back in the 80s, no home was complete without a dog-eared copy of V.C. Andrew's Flowers in the Attic, a tale of forbidden love, lost childhood and rotten parenting skills. It’s heartening then, that the Lifetime Network has filmed an adaptation of the strange, sad book without scrubbing clean the elements of incest that made it edgy. Casting Mad Men regular Kiernan Shipka as the intuitive teen and Ellen Burstyn as the Grandmother whose punishing anger drives each character (like her self-centered daughter Corrine played by Heather Graham) is key to Flowers success. This 2014 version isn’t as sinister as the book, but it is creepy, campy fun. The movie airs on Lifetime TV on January 18 at 8 PM.

Flowers in the Attic director Deborah Chow and screenwriter Kayla Alpert push the sensation of dread-at-every-turn to a maximum. From the moment the Dollanganger children learn their father (Christopher Sr.) has died, that their parents owned nothing, that their father was their mother's half-uncle, and that mom actually comes from a wealthy family (Foxworth) who disowned her, you grasp that their happy-go-lucky life is over, even if they don’t.

Mason Dye (Christopher Jr.) and Kiernan Shipka (Cathy) do a great job portraying teen siblings whose feelings toward their mother move from devotion to distrust while developing a genuine (and physical) dedication to each other. It isn't always easy to buy Graham as a mother, but she does pull off being an angry space-case when required. Burstyn is the main reason to watch Flowers, an actress capable of utter viciousness (the priceless way her lips curl when she calls her hidden grandchildren "devil spawn") and quiet, reserved, begrudging tenderness. Between Burstyn’s sense of evil, and Graham’s wide-eyed expressions, Flowers in the Attic is deliciously over-the-top.

Fans of Lifetime's Flowers in the Attic will be thrilled to know that the network has already ordered a sequel – Petals on the Wind – based on the second of the five books in the V.C. Andrews' Dollanganger Series.

Flowers in the Attic premieres on Saturday, January 18 at 8:00 PM on Lifetime

Photo by James Dittiger

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Posted on Saturday, January 18, 2014