I recently reread one of my favorite childhood (more like preteen) series, Flowers in the Attic by V. C. Andrews. Don’t ask me why I liked such a dark twisted series. Maybe it was a fascination with the taboo that intrigued me.
Anyway! I wanted to do a comparison with the first book in the Dollanganger series with the movie. Not the weird one made in 1987. That would have been an easy victory for the book. I’m talking about the Lifetime remake from 2014 (directed by Deborah Chow).
I’ll obviously start with the book:
- That fifties pep with so much darkness. Like what woman writes a romance novel about child neglect and incest??? I loved this melding of the romance and horror genres!
- I appreciate Cathy’s character adding a sense of skepticism and sullenness. I liked how real she was and how she always saw through the BS.
- Could this be based on a true story? V.C. Andrews starts off the novel with the main character writing “So like Charles Dickens, in this work if ‘fiction’ I will hide myself away behind a false name, and live in fake places, and I pray to God that those who should will hurt when they read what I have to say.”
- The pacing: the book starts off slow and then speeds through halfway through. Some chapters span over one day and then some over years. There wasn’t much consistency.
- The dated language sometimes gets annoying. “In my heart of hearts” was the worst of them, although that phrase didn’t come up nearly as much as the ghost writer used it in other books.
- First off, Chris didn’t look 50 years old like he did in the older version of the film. And Cathy was casted better to fit the part of the book character. And Corrine and the grandmother were magnificent!
- The dialogue and plot followed close to the book, much better than the older film. If deviations are creative, I’ll allow them, but I appreciate movies just bringing to life my stories on the pages.
- They made the whole series! I always wanted to know how the rest of the books would be portrayed on the screen.
- They didn’t make the last book, well, the first prequel Garden of Shadows, into a movie. That’s the one I wanted to see the most.
- If the pacing was bad in the book, it was horrendous in the movie. I know they couldn’t put everything in there from the book, but dang!
- The whole reason Lifetime picked up these books to make into a movie was the taboo relationship between brother and sister. They glamourized this part. I admit this was the part that drew me to the books, but the horror part is in the child neglect and family secrets, not totally the incest.
I really enjoyed the movies, but the books still win. There was just more room for nuance and twists. The movies tried to fit everything in, and it seemed too rushed. Thanks Lifetime!