Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Film Review: Flowers in the Attic (1987)

Flowers in the Attic (Review)
United States/1987
Format Viewed for Review: Shudder
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No
*A 31 Days of Halloween Special Review!

"...a well-made blend of horror and drama."

After the sudden death of their father, a group of children are forced to travel with their mother to live with her wealthy parents...

Flowers in the Attic follows a group of four children: teenagers Chris (Jeb Stuart Adams) and Cathy (Kristy Swanson) and five-year-old twins Cory and Carrie. After the death of their father, their family falls into financial hardships. So, the kids travel with their mother, Corrine, to the home of her wealthy parents. On their way there, Corrine explains that she was essentially disowned by her father, but she plans on reconciling in order to make it into his will. At the palatial house, the children are confined to a single room and the attic, forced to live under their grandmother's (Louise Fletcher) strict rules while Corrine attempts to fix everything. However, they soon realize everything is not what it seems. The plot leads to an abrupt and unsatisfying ending. It doesn't leave an impression.

Fortunately, the rest of the film leaves a strong impression. Although it is not visually graphic, the plot is disturbing. The children, although forced to stay in the same setting throughout most of the runtime, are interesting and you can sympathize. The grandmother, Olivia Foxworth, is a worthy antagonist—the type of antagonist to make you clench your fists and wish for the worst to happen to her. The film has some tense and unnerving moments, but it also has some very slow scenes. The pacing is smooth for the most part, though. The story can feel somewhat disjointed, too, but it's never confusing. Some things are hinted at, but the plot doesn't explore them. I suppose my biggest issue stems from the final fifteen or so minutes. It offers some compelling revelations, but it ultimately feels so tacked on. It just didn't do anything for me. Since the rest of the film gripped me and even angered me at times, the disappointment felt amplified.

The acting was mostly great. Kristy Swanson and Louise Fletcher delivered strong performances at two different ends of the spectrum. Jeb Stuart Adams was also good. I'm glad the cast showed some restraint and refused to overact. The film was shot well and the music blended with the tone of the movie. The make-up during some scenes was a bit off, though. Based on a novel, the film was written and directed by Jeffrey Bloom. The film obviously went through some extensive editing and re-writing considering the often-disjointed storytelling, but Bloom ultimately delivers a dark and effective horror-drama. His original vision might have been a whole lot better, though.

Overall, Flowers in the Attic is a very good movie. It's certainly not a film for everyone—it deals with some very disturbing themes—but it is an effective movie. It's a well-made blend of horror and drama. If you're a fan of movies/books like The Girl Next Door, I think you'll enjoy this one.

Score: 7/10
Parental Guide: Some violence and blood.

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