As both of my readers know, when Flowers in the Attic, the southern gothic touchstone by VC Andrews got the Lifetime treatment, I instantly had to review it. My biggest complaint? That somehow, a movie about a mother who locks her kids in an attic, tries to poison them, features not one but two incestuous relationships both of which are the healthiest in the story, was not quite insane enough. Good news, creatures. Lifetime might very well have read my review, because when they made the first sequel, Petals on the Wind, into a movie, they ratcheted up the crazy to Buseyian levels.
It’s not like they had much of a choice. As I mentioned previously, the series starts out a little nuts, like that one relative you have who insists on alphabetizing their cats, and rapidly careens hilariously out of control, like the time that same relative decided to go to the zoo and masturbate all the tigers. The connection to reality, already tenuous (though in a genre-appropriate way), was strained to the breaking point in this volume, so the filmmakers were forced to keep up. Plus, Lifetime rushed this thing into production so fast, I’m surprised sets weren’t being built in the middle of scenes. If you told me the actors were reading off cue cards, I would believe you. Screenwriter Kayla Alpert is back for the adaption, but Lifetime upgraded their director when they tapped Karen Moncrieff for this installment. She knew exactly what she was making here, but directs with an admirable poker face, presenting most of the action as, you know, just some normal stuff that happened to this family one time. She does, however, allow her actors the freedom to go nuts, and the cast — especially Burstyn and a delightfully unhinged Graham — just run with it. Normally, there’s a lot of analysis, but frankly, I can’t help just breathlessly relating the plot. Because it’s amazing.
I’ve made a lot of hay about how Lifetime movies open on (trailer guy voice) the perfect family. Well, this one actually fucking does it. We get a title card: “Previously, on Flowers in the Attic” which is instantly followed by another title card: “A Perfect Family.” They’re talking about the Dollangangers, the Aryan clones obsessed with C-names. Anyway, the actual movie opens in South Carolina 1970, with Cathy, Chris, and Carrie at the funeral of Paul Sheffield, a kindly man who apparently adopted the kids after that whole attic business. The weird part is Cathy (now played by Rose McIver, most recognizable as Tinkerbell on Once Upon A Time, which also makes the movie about 15% funnier) delivering the eulogy, tells us the same information that was in the previouslies. Sheffield has made sure the kids will never want for anything. But Cathy wants something: FUCKING REVENGE. And if you think I mean revenge obtained via fucking, you would be correct.
Corrine is still in the society rags as the Foxworth Heiress, and that really chaps Cathy’s ass. Maybe she has something, because while the surviving kids are making a go at life, they’re not doing great. Brittle Chris is trying to be a doctor, but all he wants to do is fuck his sister. Somebody get this guy a hobby, or at least some porn. Carrie’s growth was stunted in the attic, and now (like many other gorgeous blonde girls) is mercilessly bullied at school. Carrying a doll every day probably doesn’t help, though. And Cathy is a ballet dancer, who still periodically calls Corrine to chat, only to get hung up on. Cathy, here’s a tip: she’s just not that into you.
Anyway, at ballet school, Cathy meets Julian, the Bad Boy of Ballet. He’s what I like to call a ballerino. Julian convinces Cathy to come up to New York and dance there. Chris also gets a love interest in the form of the unbearably perky Sarah Reeves, daughter of Chris’s boss (played by Justified’s Nick Searcy). Right before Cathy leaves for New York, she and Chris go on a bittersweet, final journey to Pound Town. Carrie overhears the pillow talk and seems jealous and that’s just gross, movie and possibly book.
The company up in New York is dancing Romeo and Juliet, because this was apparently written by seventh graders. Cathy fails her audition, and the part of Juliet goes to an ambiguously ethnic mean girl who exists only to glower at our perfect Aryan princess and flirt with Julian. Also, the idea of Julian not playing Juliet seems like a wasted opportunity. It’s at the very least confusing. So he seduces Cathy back at the apartment, and it’s the second sex scene (this one features oral!) which seems I dunno, a little racy for Lifetime. Cathy pulls a Winona Rider, which is what I call it when an actress keeps her bra on.
Meanwhile, shit gets freaky back in South Carolina. Chris “accidentally” walks in on Carrie while she checks herself out in the mirror. Seriously, guy, this is the second sister you’ve done that with, and we all know where the first one led. So, here’s a crazy thought, maybe you start knocking on closed bathroom doors? Anyway, Carrie’s totally cool with it, and she asks Chris if he thinks she’s pretty. He gets this look like, “Thanksgiving is already way too awkward as is,” and reassures her. Carrie knows he loves Cathy best, though. Also? Ew.
Cathy’s love life isn’t doing much better. Julian reveals himself to be a jealous, abusive freak. It’s highly possible he’s cheating on Cathy with the mean girl, too. When Carrie and Chris go up to visit, Chris catches Julian with his fingers in the cookie jar, and by “cookie jar” I mean Carrie’s vagina, and by fingers, I actually literally mean fingers. Julian and Cathy go for a drive to sort stuff out, and Cathy reveals she’s pregnant right before a truck t-bones the car. And it’s amazing. I love literally everything about this scene.
The film picks up ten months later, with Cathy back in South Carolina, now raising her baby which she’s named Jory because she’s a fucking Twilight character (Julian + Cory = Jory). Chris edges closer to his inevitable marriage with Sarah. Corrine is off in Virginia, renovating Foxworth Hall to erase all presence of the titular attic, while taking care of Olivia (Burstyn once again, now made up like David Lo Pan) now incapacitated by stroke. Since tragedy hasn’t struck the Dollangangers in ten months, Carrie starts seeing a minister, who proposes on like the first date. Carrie doesn’t feel she can marry him on account of being fingered one time in New York. It was a different time, I guess. Instead of either a) getting the fuck over it or b) not caring because who cares or c) telling this guy what happened and see if he cares (if he’s halfway decent he won’t), Carrie decides to kill herself with rat poison in some donuts, which is how her twin Cory went out. Cathy discovers the whole thing when she sees a rack of fresh-baked donuts, then looks over the counter where the rat poison is hilariously left out. It was like watching Homer Simpson solve The Murders in the Rue Morgue.
To be fair, Carrie also killed herself because she invited Corrine to the wedding, and Corrine was like, “who are you?” So it was horrible (but totally expected) parental rejection in addition to the fingering thing. This is pretty much the last straw for Cathy. Her plan? Seduce Bart Winslow (I feel I should pause here for you to stop laughing at that soap opera name), Corrine’s new husband. Which takes like five seconds. Hey, the guy has a type. Cathy, of course, gets pregnant. Meanwhile, Corrine gives Bart and angry handjob and reveals that she knows he’s having an affair with someone. This scene, you guys, it’s so wonderful. I wish I could bottle it and distribute it to Third World Children who would otherwise never know its joy.
Sarah breaks up with Chris because she catches him making out with his sister, and I’m with her on this one. That’s what you call a dealbreaker. So with that taken away, Chris now has nothing better to do that support his sister’s revenge scheme. This culminates at a party in refurbished Foxworth Hall, where Cathy tells the whole sordid tale to the guests. After kicking the guests out, Corrine goes up to Olivia’s room and loses her shit. She pulls out a trunk, in which she had been keeping Cory’s bones(!), while Chris tries to figure out what the fuck is happening. She even takes a Hail Mary at seducing Chris, and when he looks at Olivia, like “…the fuck?”, Ellen Burstyn cackles and goes “Don’t look at me!” It is seriously the best thing ever. Oh god. I loved it.
So anyway, Corrine burns the place down, and it ends. But then, BUT THEN, there’s a little coda with Chris and Cathy living as husband and wife, and a promo for the next two books! I’m so excited. I can hardly stand it.
What did we learn? Good fucking question. I’m going to go with the simple fact that the Dollangangers must have pissed off a gypsy or something, because this is some serious shit. I mean, okay, you get locked in an attic and your mom kills your brother. Okay, fine. But there’s a string of some pretty shitty luck beyond that. The Dollangangers are constantly whining about how Foxworth Hall won’t let them go, but that’s not the problem. The problem is you fuckers. If you got your shit together and maybe stopped locking each other in attics and burning each other’s homes down, maybe you’d have a good life. You know? Just try it for ten months or so and see what happens.