Flowers in the Attic [1987]

Director: Jeffrey Bloom
Stars: Kristy Swanson, Victoria Tennant, Louise Fletcher
Genre: Drama, Romance, Thriller
Rating: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Runtime: 93 minutes

The classic teen novel of adolescent torment and forbidden love gets brought to the screen. When the father of four beautiful blond children is suddenly killed, their mother (Victoria Tennant, L.A. Story) takes them to the family home she fled 17 years earlier. Their fierce and frightening grandmother (Louise Fletcher, One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest) locks them in an upstairs room, from which the only escape is into the cluttered and cobwebbed attic. The children's isolation gets more and more extreme as their mother abandons them, finally even slowly poisoning them to gain her father's inheritance. Sadly, the movie shies away from what made Flowers in the Attic such a hugely popular book--namely, the incestuous sex that began between the two older children, Cathy (Kristy Swanson, the movie version of Buffy the Vampire Slayer) and Chris (Jeb Stuart Adams). Instead, the movie insinuates incestuous longing in all directions: Cathy's father brings her special presents before he dies, Chris scrubs Cathy's back in the tub, Chris has a noticeably stronger attachment to their mother than Cathy does--not to mention that the grandmother whips the half-naked mother in front of the grandfather. Fletcher brings a bit of bite to her role, and the movie occasionally rises to absurdly lurid zest. --Bret Fetzer

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