Lifetime's 'Flowers in the Attic': What's the verdict?
January 20th, 2014
01:25 PM ET

Lifetime's 'Flowers in the Attic': What's the verdict?

We could think of no better place for a TV adaptation of V.C. Andrews' "Flowers in the Attic" than Lifetime, yet the network somehow managed to turn the novel into a televised dud.

The story, first published in 1979 and read by teen girls everywhere in the years since, has all the elements for campy TV fun: irresponsible mothers, evil grandparents, gothic mansions and explosive family secrets. Plus - who can forget? - a pair of incestuous siblings.

And yet, when "Flowers in the Attic" debuted on Lifetime Saturday, critics were left bored.

"The network's new adaptation ... is what it is — a movie of the week, plopping off the assembly line with a little more gothic atmosphere than usual and some expensive accessories," yawned The New York Times' Mike Hale.

Yet the Los Angeles Times' Mary McNamara argued that the movie's terribleness should come as no surprise:"The book was terrible!" she said. "Rife with clunky dialogue, ridiculous characters and ludicrous plot twists. It was so terrible you could not put it down. ... None of which this 'Flowers' gets. The problem is not that it's just terrible, but that it's also no fun. At all."

Zap2It's review agrees, thinking that some of the novel's "delicious pulp" got lost as it was translated into a teleplay by Kayla Alpert.

The movie does stick close to the major plot points fans would remember: after the death of their father, four siblings travel with their mother, Corrine (Heather Graham) to her estranged parents' rural estate with the hope that she'll be able to gain her inheritance.

Once they get there, however, Corrine has to lock away the two oldest kids, Christopher (Mason Dye) and Cathy ("Mad Men's" Kiernan Shipka) along with the younger twins. The only person they really have contact with over the next four years is their horror show of a grandmother (Ellen Burstyn).

The Huffington Post found the movie "aesthetically pleasing," but was also disappointed with the poor editing and "flat" acting.

"Even allowing for the lowbrow standards that can paradoxically turn a Lifetime movie into a delectable piece of trash," said The Washington Post critic Hank Stuever, "this 'Flowers in the Attic' is a remarkably weak effort."

Did you watch "Flowers in the Attic" on Saturday? What'd you think?

Filed under: television

soundoff (68 Responses)
  1. Tffstff

    Books are way better. Acting was terrible. Seemed rushed and flat. Petals on the wind was my favorite book of the series. Hate to how they mess that up. I'd love to see most of the vc Andrews books turned into movies, but not by lifetime

    January 21, 2014 at 10:20 pm | Report abuse |
  2. babygirl71

    I read all five books as well as the watched the orignal movie. I was very dissapointed by the first movie, mostly because they changed the story so much. Even though this one was closer to the book, it still missed the mark. At no point during the book did you ever feel like the kids grandmother loved them. Where this movie tried to make her seem more human(big mistake). The way that Cathy and Chris started sleeping together was changed (big mistake). While this version was closer to the book it still did not encompass the extreme emotion and insanity that the book did. I don't know if it was just the acting or the directing, but i just could have been better.

    January 21, 2014 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse |

    I started watching it and 20 mintutes later, turned the channel. Bad acting and just bad overall

    January 21, 2014 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Uncle Perv

    Not enough gratuitous s-x and nudity for my taste.

    January 21, 2014 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse |

    Absolutely terrible. The only thing worth watching was the house. Ellen Burstyn must be low on cash. Heather Graham should be ashamed of herself.

    January 21, 2014 at 1:36 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Lynn Barry

    I read Flowers in the Attic thirty years ago and wasn't disappointed with the Lifetime 2014 movie adaptation. For me, it kept with the Lifetime formula of movie styling and yet did not shy away from the edginess of the novel.
    I was reminded of movies I have enjoyed like Mommy Dearest and Whatever Happened to Baby Jane.
    I look forward to Petals in the Wind.

    January 21, 2014 at 12:45 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Meh

    Just read the're better off

    January 21, 2014 at 12:31 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Sainbury

    Weirdest acting I've ever seen – like camp. Horrible wigs.

    January 21, 2014 at 10:12 am | Report abuse |
  9. Peace ☮

    I didn't watch it, but, there's a lot of mixed emotions here. Are they going to re-run it?

    January 21, 2014 at 9:31 am | Report abuse |
    • Karen

      Its already been replayed, twice just last night, so I am sure they are going to play that horrible movie again.

      January 21, 2014 at 9:38 am | Report abuse |
  10. ubilina

    I think this movie is very good, especially the acting.

    January 21, 2014 at 8:22 am | Report abuse |
  11. Nikki

    Loved it!

    January 21, 2014 at 4:41 am | Report abuse |
  12. jill

    I thought it was alittle better than the first movie only because it stuck more to the details of the book. But the first movie was much darker. I was not impressed at all with shirpa as Cathy. I don't think she portrayed her well at all, especially compared to Kristy Swanson. Will be interesting to see what the petals in the wind sequel will be like.

    January 21, 2014 at 4:39 am | Report abuse |
  13. david

    boring. acting was terrible except grandmother. the 87 movie version was so much better. IN order to do it right on tv it should be a mini series and tell the full story. lame tv movie.

    January 21, 2014 at 3:39 am | Report abuse |
  14. Shannon

    I enjoyed it. I wasn't expecting the most high-brow acting, and I wasn't disappointed, but it hit all the major points. I hope they do the entire series.

    January 21, 2014 at 2:45 am | Report abuse |
    • Karen

      It would be nice to see the entire series in a movies/movies but I think the content might be a little too graphic for tv. Who knows, we see. I am a huge VC Andrews fan so I will be watching if it happens 🙂

      January 21, 2014 at 9:41 am | Report abuse |
  15. Sony

    So so dissapointed! When I watched the original movie with Kristy Swanson and cast, it left me captivated and movie became my favorite! That version was so dark compared to this one...I could not get over the plot and immediately bought/read the books. The acting in the Lifetime version was horrific! Only good acting came from Shirpa...but she sometimes also reminded me of her Mad Men character...kind of blended at times. I was so excited about my fave movie being remade...but Lifetime dissapointed me 🙁

    January 21, 2014 at 1:41 am | Report abuse |
    • Mrs. B

      Agreed Sony! Anyone who loved this movie should watch the original theatrical version released in 1987. Although that version deviated from the novel, it still captured the essence of the dark tone and characters of the novel. Kristy Swanson WAS Kathy, and Louise Fletcher WAS truly evil and creepy as the grandmother! Watching Heather Graham just kept reminding me of "The Hangover" and Ellen Burstyn just came off as an angry old bat! The material of the novel was by no means lightweight, but that's how it came across with the Lifetime (LM) version. The acting was wooden and flat, especially from Heather Graham. People have to expect with a movie adaptation of a novel some changes will be made, and I think LM got so caught up in staying true to the novel that the dark tone and acting fell by the wayside. I am a diehard VC Andrews fan and I've read all her books, but I'll take the 1987 version over the LM remake any day! I even went back and watched the original on Netflix! All movie adaptations do not have to biblically follow the novel in order to be great. "The Color Purple" is a great example of this. I hope LM gets it right with the sequel...

      January 21, 2014 at 3:51 am | Report abuse |
  16. shaena

    almost was dead on with the book I enjoyed the lifetime version the original movie was loosely based on the book I wish that they would do the whole series !!!!! would enjoy them all 🙂

    January 21, 2014 at 1:20 am | Report abuse |
  17. Shelia

    I liked the movie. I have hope that lifetime will turn the other books into movies.

    January 21, 2014 at 12:32 am | Report abuse |
  18. Name*angela Riley

    I enjoyed watching flowers in the attic on lifetime.

    January 20, 2014 at 11:22 pm | Report abuse |
  19. Cheesecakes By Tonia

    That ending sucks!! I'm not sure who the person in the attic is...I feel like there should have been more detail with her Mom and the new husband. This is a big let down on Lifetime channel.

    January 20, 2014 at 10:22 pm | Report abuse |
  20. Twink II

    I give it 1 star out of 5. Lifetime missed the mark on this one. They managed to take an excellent story and turn it into an utter disappointment. Lifetime can produce some good movies but sadly this wasn't one of them. 🙁

    January 20, 2014 at 10:16 pm | Report abuse |
  21. Sam

    Okay, so I know the books (all 5 of them) by heart, I actually don't hate the original film because back then it was even more strict on what couldn't be done and teenage incest was definitely on the no-no list. I expected a lot more from this version though. I only watched to the end to see how they would end it since in the original they killed the mom. While some people were against the original because it cut out the incest, I think it portrayed the darkness and the fear instilled in the children far better than this one did and I personally find the emotion of the roles better than the few minutes of teenage brother and sister screwing.
    I HATE when things are added in just because. Like the grandmother trapped in the attic while they ran, John helping them out, the deer, the fence...all pathetic and unneeded.
    I saw Heather Graham talking with more passion about the dress she wore in the film than she even attempted to put into the role. The mother was truly wicked and manipulative and she just sounded like a dumb blonde through it all. Even when she and Cathy fight, she came off like she didn't mean it. It was far too rushed when they'd have been better off just following the real plot and cutting out the lame stuff they added in. I don't know if the script or direction is to blame but the actress who plays the Grandmother, Ellen Burstyn, is generally an amazing actress and she was so flat and didn't fill the true role at all to me. Another peeve being that they made the grandmother FAR too soft. In the books, she is described as hard and cold as the gray slate dresses she this film she was weak and whiny and it was disappointing. I don't know much about the kid actors, but the twins were never made that big a deal out of. The Chris was okay but flat, the Cathy not nearly angry enough.

    Over all....SO much more could have been done with this film, forgetting the original movie all needed to be darker, need to be scarier, needed to show more emotion from all parties involved.
    Very disappointing from start to finish.

    January 20, 2014 at 10:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Erica S.

      I agree with you about the Grandmother being too soft. In the book, she wouldn't look at Christopher or say his name. She had cold flint-steel eyes and a thin, hard lips. This lady seemed like she wanted to like the kids once in a while, even calling them by name(when she begged Carrie to come back at the end) The house was also not like what was described in the books with the grand staircase. Chris and Cathy didn't sneak out of the room in the middle of the day either. It was little things that they did in this one that I was like, no, no, no.....they even didn't have the Grandmother wearing the diamond brooch they always spoke of....wish I could direct this movie and pick the actors....I'd hook it up! lol

      January 20, 2014 at 10:46 pm | Report abuse |
  22. tkingsley2

    Loved the first one with Kristy Swanson...

    January 20, 2014 at 9:50 pm | Report abuse |
  23. Lisa

    Two hours of my life I'll never get back.

    January 20, 2014 at 9:50 pm | Report abuse |
  24. lee

    What a horrible adaptation I was utterly disappointed. The acting was terrible except for Shipka. Graham looked beautiful but added no dimension to her role. Another thing that was missing was a nice twist at the end that is so expected in lifetime movies. Maybe a flash forward or a discovery of the children by the grandfather.. come on lifetime, what a way to let me down.

    January 20, 2014 at 9:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Heather

      You can't have them revealed to the grandfather–he had already been dead by that point

      January 20, 2014 at 10:38 pm | Report abuse |
  25. Rate ice

    I've only watched an hour of this remake and it sucks badly!!! Heather Graham was the worst choice for the mother. And I agree with everyone else that the story left so much out. The lack of passion from the characters just made it even worse. The original movie was much better. Some things should be left alone until they can be done right.

    January 20, 2014 at 8:54 pm | Report abuse |
  26. They shoulda called it...

    Deflowered in the Attic.

    January 20, 2014 at 8:47 pm | Report abuse |
  27. Sign

    Well i cant say I'm surprised i was really looking forward to some one doing" flowers in the attic" justice. I loved the books but really just hated the original movie , this one stuck to the plot better which i love but i feel it could have been so much more and the acting,,,.good gods it was horrible. And I really think the grandmother just didnt come off right she needed more ...more.

    January 20, 2014 at 7:42 pm | Report abuse |
  28. oceanluvver2

    I am a huge fan of the books so I was doubtful this movie would be any good. The original movie was horrible. This wasn't horrible but it wasn't good. It was ok in a gray shade of way. There is so much that goes on in the book, it is difficult to do the book justice in two hours. I agree that the cast was lifeliess. Maybe Ellen Burstyn had a hard time with the subject matter. I didn't like heather graham as the mother. Also, Bart has a mustache in the book and Cathy likes the tickle of his mustache. That piece is relavent in the upcoming book. Also, they don't leave the same way and a guy doesn't help them, nor is there an electric fence. I won't watch the next ones-I'll just reread the books.

    January 20, 2014 at 7:40 pm | Report abuse |
  29. tammy

    Do people really need to make comments not related to the TV film?? Anyway I read the books and yet to see the original but I have seen worse lifetime movies so I give it a b-. If they did follow up it would be better I like to see what happens to the kids.

    January 20, 2014 at 7:37 pm | Report abuse |
  30. ginger

    Flowers in the Attic... horrible ...NOTHING came close to the original where you actually felt for the kids.
    I love Ellen who played the grandmother but the acting was over played. The script was awful. It is all
    about the writing. I did not like the acting with any of the characters and I hardly felt any reaction when
    they escaped the house. Not done well....very disappointed and like what others are saying...should I
    even bother to watch the Lizzy Borden movie. Lack of Depth in Flowers in the Attic.

    January 20, 2014 at 7:11 pm | Report abuse |
  31. Dorothy


    January 20, 2014 at 7:09 pm | Report abuse |
  32. Piper

    SO DISAPPOINTED - pretty much stuck to the original movie and then RUINED it by leaving out all the twists and turns - four graves dug, crashing the wedding at the end. I was so excited to watch with my husband who never saw it - watching the original version NOW on MGM TV so he can see how much better the original was!!

    January 20, 2014 at 6:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • oceanluvver2

      the ending of the first book is not the same ending as in the first movie. the first movie messed it all up! There are four more books after Flowers in the Attic.

      January 20, 2014 at 7:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • You make me wanna la la

      I agree with ocean. I've never seen the Kristy Swanson movie, but the book ended with them running for the train. I've heard the Swanson movie TOTALLY ignored the incest part of the book

      January 20, 2014 at 8:03 pm | Report abuse |
  33. Kai

    Heather Graham's acting sucked!!!!

    January 20, 2014 at 5:53 pm | Report abuse |
  34. Jenn

    Oh, c'mon – even the preview was horrible. Whomever did the cover of Guns N'Roses "Sweet Child O'Mine" should never make music again. SO disappointed in the acting, but most of all in Ellen Burstyn – the Exorcist – she could've done WAY better. But maybe she's better at acting afraid of someone then being the creepy one.

    January 20, 2014 at 4:48 pm | Report abuse |
  35. Dianne

    It was truly terrible. Ellen Burstyn was great but her performance wasn't enough to save the movie. The characters were so one dimensional and boring that you barely even felt sorry for them. The house had more character than the characters...

    January 20, 2014 at 4:34 pm | Report abuse |
  36. Marsha

    Obviously those of you who liked it have NEVER seen the original or read the books... this sucked! Ellen Burstyn was the only good actor in it. Heather Graham can't act her way out of a box and the twins were supposed to be cute! The original movie had suspense, drama and twists!! Ugh! First they ruin the Sound of Music and now this.. LIFETIME please show the original move so I can get the bad taste of this one out of my mouth!

    January 20, 2014 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse |
  37. Ang

    Missed it, hope to catch a re-play. What's with all the weirdos posting here?

    January 20, 2014 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lee

      U new here? Weirdos always post here.

      January 20, 2014 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • You make me wanna la la

      You can watch it on the Lifetime movie website. For some reason it makes you choose your cable or satellite provider and log into your account.

      January 20, 2014 at 8:01 pm | Report abuse |
  38. Jenny

    Was looking forward to this movie of the week for a while ...... Great TV ads!! I was a little worried when I saw Heather Graham was the mother, her acting chops leave much to be desired ( Chili's seems to just read the lines off the page as written, no acting skills)........ Turns out she was as terrible as I thought she would be, but not the worst actor. The children were missed cast and unattractive, especially Cathy. Ellen Burstyn was the only bright point in the cast, chewing up the scenery as the evil mother. The show was so boring I actually didn't watch the last 10 minutes, the "climax" when the children escape....... What a mess. Now I'm afraid to watch Lizzie Borden, I adore Christina Ricci but I don't trust lifetime anymore!

    January 20, 2014 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
  39. Professor Quirrel

    TROLL! In the DUNGEONS!!!

    thought you ought to know...

    January 20, 2014 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
  40. tee

    I counted down the days until the premier because I absolutely loved the original. I'm not going to lie, I was a little bit disappointed. I liked that this one was truer to the novel, but these actors don't even compare to the original cast, especially Ellen Burstyn who, regardless of doing well, did not fill Louise Fletcher's shoes. I also wasn't fond of the ending, which wasn't even remotely similiar to the original. It was good, just not as good as the original.

    January 20, 2014 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Heidi in Colorado

      I agree with you tee; counted down the days, made popcorn and was left unsatisfied.

      January 20, 2014 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • HH

      Acting Chops, you made my day. I love it when people who don't know the difference between your and you're try to insult someone. HILARIOUS every time.

      January 20, 2014 at 5:00 pm | Report abuse |
  41. PSE

    I want to see the sequel Petals on the Wind. Love the books. This version was better than the first. I think a different Cathy would be better. She needs to be pretty! The mother was a good choice. Pls make sequels!

    January 20, 2014 at 2:33 pm | Report abuse |
  42. Alana

    It was amazing , I loved it .

    January 20, 2014 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
  43. PSE

    I want to see the sequel Petals on the Wind. Love the books. This versionwas better than the first. I think a different Cathy would be better. She needs to be pretty! The mother was a good choice. Pls make seqeuls!

    January 20, 2014 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
  44. Brandi

    I thought it was good... very true to the book.

    January 20, 2014 at 2:09 pm | Report abuse |
  45. elizdiamond13

    I watched it last night on dvr until around 3am. It was okay. It definitely didn't top the original. The end of the first definitely was better then this version. The grandmother was great in both this one and the first movie, that's pretty much it.

    January 20, 2014 at 1:54 pm | Report abuse |
  46. john


    January 20, 2014 at 1:52 pm | Report abuse |

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