Flowers in the Attic
When their father is killed in a car accident, the lives of teenagers Cathy (Kristy Swanson) and Chris (Jeb Stuart Adams) are turned upside down. Their mother Corinne (Victoria Tennant) is forced to sell off everything they own and move them and their two infant siblings, Cory (Ben Ryan Ganger) and Carrie (Lindsay Parker) with her to the home of her parents. None of the kids have ever met their grandparents, mainly because Corinne was disowned by her folks before any of them were born. She announces her intention to win back the love of her father, who is near death, and get back into his will.
As the family arrives at her parent's house, a sprawling country estate in the middle of nowhere, they are greeted by the grandmother (Louise Fletcher), a cold, heartless woman who takes them upstairs and locks them in a bedroom with barred windows. She explains to them the rules of the house - no screaming, no loud noises, and they will be kept locked in the room at all times because she doesn't want their grandfather to know about them. She gives them some shocking news - their mother was disowned because the man she married was her own uncle, and as products of that marriage, she considers the kids the spawn of Satan.
Corinne's first re-introduction to family life comes in the form of 17 lashings with a whip, one for each year she lived in sin. Meanwhile, the kids begin to get used to the isolation of the room, and eventually are allowed to explore the house's attic, which can be reached from a door in the back of their closet. The youngsters make the attic their home as much as they can while they wait for their mother to accomplish her mission, all the while having to deal with their fanatical grandmother and her Bible-inspired edicts.
However, as the weeks turn into months, and still no end to the isolation, the kids become desperate, especially as Cory and Carrie begin to grow pale and sick. Cathy and Chris try to escape several times and run for help, but are stopped first by the estate's formidable guard dogs, and then again by the fear of ruining their mother's plans. Finally, though, they come to a dreaded realization - their mother has become so obsessed with getting her father's money that she no longer has any concern for the kids. In fact, she may even be planning to kill them. Cathy and Chris realize that if they're ever going to get out of the attic, they'll have to do it themselves.
Despite a few creepy bits, Flowers in the Attic really wasn't a very good movie. Clocking in at just over an hour and a half, the film doesn't have nearly enough plot to occupy that running time, and so most of the time we're treated to scenes of the kids wandering around the attic or wondering if they'll ever get out. Although Kristy Swanson and Jeb Stuart Adams are likable in the lead roles, they really don't give very good performances. Similarly, Louise Fletcher overacts in her role as the tyrannical grandmother, while the child actors who play Cory and Carrie are very annoying. The movie is also extremely claustrophobic, but not in a way that helps the storyline by building tension. The audience wants the hell out of that attic, but we don't care if the kids ever get out.
The movie also isn't helped by the fact that director Jeffrey Bloom plays up the idea of imprisonment, even though most of the power that the grandmother wields over the kids seems illusory and dependent on their level of obedience (Chris, a fairly big and powerful kid, actually sends her fleeing out of their room in complete terror at one point midway through). Aside from the guard dogs, who only get one scene of menace and then are never mentioned again, there really doesn't seem to be anything holding the kids there. They certainly have no trouble getting out of the attic during many occasions in the film, whether it be chiseling down a bar on the window or simply jimmying open the door. The excuse that "We don't want to leave because it would ruin mother's plan" is thrown out at times, but even that begins to sound ludicrous after awhile.
It's a pity that the movie is so bad, because from what I hear, the novel by V.C. Andrews that it is based on is exceptional. You'd probably do better to simply read that than waste you're time with this movie.
Flowers in the Attic is presented letterboxed at 1.85:1 and is enhanced for 16x9 sets. The picture quality is rather disappointing, considering that this movie really isn't all that old. The image appears very grainy throughout the film. Colors are reasonably accurate, but many times they give way to oversaturation and bleed, and some dust and specks are evident on the print.
The soundtrack is in Dolby 2.0 Mono. There is no distortion evident, but the volume level on the track was highly variable. Sometimes I needed to turn the volume up to hear the dialogue, while sometimes I found myself scrambling to turn it down when the music score started playing. No subtitles are provided.
Theatrical trailer only.
Bad movie, disappointing audio and video presentation. Unless you're already a fan of the Flowers in the Attic, there's probably no real reason for you pick up this release.
Movie - C-
Image Quality - B-
Sound - B-
Supplements – C
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