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There is a Flowers in the Attic remake based off the original book being made by Lifetime, which aired on January 18, 2014. It stars Kiernan Shipka as Cathy, Mason Dye as Chris, Heather Graham as Corinne, and Ellen Burstyn as the grandmother. Unlike the 1987 original film, the remake closely follows the content of the novel, including the incestuous relationship between the two eldest siblings.
In the year 1957, 12-year-old Cathy Dollanganger lives an idyllic life with her family, which consists of her older teenage brother (Christopher), 5-year-old twins (Carrie and Cory), and her parents (Corrine and Christopher, Sr.) in Pennsylvania. The family is well-known and loved for their blonde hair, blue eyes, and fair complexion which everyone compares them to the Dresden Dolls.
On the day of her father's 36th birthday party, however, her young life changes forever. Christopher Sr is killed in a car accident which devastates the entire family. Because their father was the only one financially supporting them and due to overwhelming debt, Corrine writes to her mother in Virginia, asking for shelter. After four months, Corrine receives her mother's blessing to come live at the family mansion, Foxworth Hall.
She then explains to Cathy and Chris that she has been distant with her family due to a disagreement, but with their father dead and them losing their home, her family, who is wealthy, will be able to provide for them. Also due to living on credit, the house, the cars and many of their possessions were not fully paid for and are going to be seized by the bank. She also tells them that their true last name is Foxworth.
That night, the family take the train and arrive in Virginia in the early morning hours, and walk a long way to Foxworth Hall, where they meet with Corrine's mother, Olivia, at the door. She escorts them into a small room that is connected to the attic, and tells them they will be residing in the room so that their grandfather, who is dying from heart disease, will not find out about them. Corrine explains that she did something when she was 18 years old that her parents didn't approve of, so she was disinherited, but she intends on winning his love back and then will introduce the children to them.
The following morning, Olivia gives them a list of strict rules, such as keeping the room and themselves clean, eat all their meals, hide away in the attic when the maids clean the room every last Friday of every month, stay quiet so no one will hear them (except for in the attic), never mention their father, and forbids them from even looking at each other.
The children explore the attic and begin turning it into a garden so that the twins will not be afraid of it. Olivia expresses suspicion that the children are doing things she considers sinful, such as questioning Cathy what she does with Chris, which scares and confuses them.
When Corrine visits with them, the twins demand to be released, but Olivia violently pushes them away to quiet them down and makes Corrine show the children what punishment they will get for disobeying her; Corrine has been horse-whipped by her mother a total 38 times (18 for each year she "charmed" her father and 20 for each year she was married to her husband).
The next day, Corrine tells them that her husband was actually her half-uncle; he had been her father's half-brother and when they eloped, they were both were banished and cursed by her parents. She promises to them that she will convince her father to forgive her and bring them to meet him. The children, particularly Chris, believe her, even though Cathy has a little bit of skepticism.
A month goes by as Corrine's visits decrease and the children try to pass the time by playing in the attic and taking care of the twins. Corrine begins to enjoy her new found wealth and begins a relationship with her father's attorney, Bart Winslow, although she, at first, tells the children he is helping her get her father write her back in his will.
Eventually, Cathy becomes convinced that their mother is losing interest in them, although Chris continues to defend her and Corrine makes excuses for her absence, such that she is too busy caring for her father. She later tells them she can never introduce them to him because he forgave her on the condition that she never had any children with their father, which means they have to stay in the attic until he dies.
On their first Christmas at Foxworth Hall, Corrine showers the children with expensive gifts and announces that her father is giving her a large Christmas party. Cathy and Chris beg to attend with the promise they will hide away so no one will see them. Corrine gives in and hides them in a space above the staircase. There, Cathy and Chris see their grandfather, Malcolm for the first time. She witnesses their mother share an intimate moment with Bart, who expresses a desire to be with Corrine forever, just the two of them. Cathy is troubled by this, although Chris tries to shrug it off. He decides to explore more of the mansion and finds his mother's Swan Room. Corrine goes to the children's room and awakens Cathy, demanding to know where her brother is. She proceeds to slap Chris and threatens to whip him for risking of him being caught. The next day, however, she apologizes and offers to leave Foxworth Hall with them if they like, but the children decide to stay, still wanting to trust their mother.
A year passes, and Corrine's visits with them has become almost less to non-existent. By now, the children have grown, except for the twins, who have stopped growing due to the lack of sunlight and fresh air. Cathy and Chris enter puberty and Cathy catches Chris reading an adult magazine, which confuses her about him wanting to look at girls. Corrine explains the physical changes of becoming young adults, and gives Cathy her first bra. As Cathy is trying it on, Chris accidentally walks in on her and finds himself enchanted. Olivia catches them and calls them sinners for looking at each other when Cathy was almost naked. Olivia tries to cut off Cathy's long, blonde hair as punishment, but when Chris tells her not to, she threatens to have the four of them starve for a week and orders Chris to cut her hair off. The resulting starvation leads Cathy and Chris to leave their remaining food to the twins while they rely on mostly water and Chris suggests they eat mice in order to survive. Then, Olivia leaves them a basket of food. Later that night, Cathy awakens to find tar in her hair and asks Chris to cut her hair off. As he does so, he tells her that he couldn't resist looking at her because she is beautiful, but he knows it is wrong to think that way about her.
After another year passes, Corrine hasn't visited with them in several months, leading the children to suspect their mother no longer cares about them. Cathy and Chris have become parents to the twins, who no longer trust or know who Corrine is anymore. Finally, Cathy and Chris begin contemplating an escape due to the twins' declining health.
One night, they use a rope to climb from the attic window and explore the lake, and talk about where their mother is and why she has not visited with them. When Corrine finally returns after six months, she happily announces she has remarried to Bart and was away on her honeymoon in Europe. This angers Cathy and Chris that she was away on vacation while they have been suffering in the attic, but Corrine fails to understand why they are angry at them. Olivia starts to bring them sugar-powdered doughnuts which she says are from their mother, but attempts to refrain the children from eating them. When Olivia discovers Chris looking out the window, he orders her to call him by his name and not "boy." She then beats him with a leather belt for talking back at her while Cathy comforts the twins in the attack. As she tends to his wounds, Cathy expresses her fear of losing him and he assures her nothing will happen to him, and this leads them to share a kiss. Cathy appears to be mesmerized by the kiss and tells Chris that although she knows it was wrong, she thinks it was wonderful. Chris appears disturbed by it.
The next day, when Olivia comes in to deliver them their food, Chris says she was right about them being the "devil's spawn" and pleads for her forgiveness. She tells him only the Lord, not her, will forgive him before walking out of the room. Chris reveals the whole thing was a scheme to get an impression of the key in soap and he carves a wooden copy. He explains they need money in order to escape on a train and get out of Virginia.
At night, while the twins sleep, Cathy and Chris begin stealing money from their mother's room. During one expedition, they discover a graphic exotic book, which makes them curious. On another night, they separate and Cathy encounters Bart sleeping in the Swan bed. Being curious, she kisses him. Chris later sees his mother and Bart talking about taking a vacation to get away from Olivia, and Bart mentions that he had a dream of a young, blonde-haired girl kissing him. Chris realizes that it was Cathy who kissed their stepfather. Enraged and jealous, Chris berates her for doing something so risky and is angry that she kissed another man as he violently grips her arms. When Cathy cries that he's hurting her, he moves away from her and she says the kiss meant nothing to her. She then kisses Chris, leading to them sharing a more passionate kiss and they make love.
The next morning, Cathy suggests they move to Florida and they will have to forget what they have done. Chris, however, says he loves her and can never love anyone else but her for the rest of his life. Carrie comes in and tells them that Cory is sick. Olivia and Corrine come in to see Cory, and when their mother hesitates to help him, Cathy demands that Cory be taken to a hospital and asks her mother if she cares whether Cory lives or dies. Corrine angrily smacks her and Cathy smacks her back, threatening to get revenge on her mother if she doesn't help Cory. Olivia agrees with Cathy that Cory needs to go to the hospital and they take him away. The next day, Corrine comes in to tell them that Cory had pneumonia and died which devastates the three other children.
Fearing that they will die next, Cathy tells Chris they need to take whatever money and valuables he can find, and leave as soon as possible. Cathy and Chris go that night to steal values, however, they find that their mother and Bart have left Foxworth Hall, leaving behind a framed photo of Christopher Sr, the necklace he gave her before he died and Cathy's promise ring (confiscated by Olivia upon their arrival at the mansion).
On their final night at Foxworth Hall, they come up with an escape plan and Chris is becoming sick. During a last minute search for values, Chris hides in the study to avoid being caught by the butler, John Amos, and a maid. He overhears them talking about 'mice' in the attic and how Olivia has been leaving poison to kill them off and the grandfather's death seven months ago.
Shocked by these facts, Chris tries to get back to the room when he finds the grandmother in her room and is shocked to see that she wears a wig to cover her nearly bald head with long, white hair. She sees him running away and he tells Cathy they need to leave now because he suspects their grandmother has been poisoning them. Cathy shows him Cory's pet mouse, Mickey which has died after eating a piece of doughnut. Chris realizes that the poison was on the doughnuts and Olivia comes in to take their key. Chris is too sick to fight back and Cathy is unable to bring herself to strike the old woman. Olivia promises to show them mercy if they give her the key, but Chris tricks her into getting close enough so he can restrain her and give Cathy and Carrie enough time to run to the attic. Olivia chases after them, but reveals her fear of the attic when Chris shuts the door and turns the lights off. Cathy says it is her punishment for what she did to them and Cory, but Olivia insists that it was their mother who poisoned them. Not caring who was responsible for the poisoning, the three siblings climb out of the window and flee on foot. They run into John Amos, who mistakes them as intruders and Cathy reveals that they are Corrine's children. Shocked, he tells them to run while he will cut off the electric fence.
They manage to board a train to Florida and Chris assures her it is over; however, Cathy knows they will have to confront their mother again and vows revenge against her. The film ends with Olivia looking out the attic window before walking away.
- Kiernan Shipka - Cathy
- Mason Dye - Chris
- Heather Graham - Corrine
- Ellen Burstyn - Olivia
- Ava Telek - Carry
- Maxwell Kovach - Corie
Differences Between the Book and Movie Edit
- Cathy wears a heart shaped promise ring given to her by her father. In the book, she receives it when she is seven and eventually wears it on a thin chain after she outgrows it. In the movie, Cathy receives the ring before her father is killed in the car crash, but the grandmother confiscates it the moment the Dollangangers arrive at Foxworth Hall. Two years later, Cathy later reclaims it after Cory dies and they escape the next day.
- In the book, the Grandmother gives the Dollanganger Children a total of twenty-two written rules (i.e. standing at attention when she enters a room, not make eye contact nor speak to her, etc) and forbids them from bringing up Christopher Sr’s name. In the movie, she only tells them to be fully clothed and clean at all times.
- Corrine shows some grief in the book over Cory’s death (evidenced by red-rimmed eyes and makeup smudges). The movie however shows her as less sympathetic and shrugs off the children’s’ grief stricken reactions.
- Although the tarring happens in both the book and movie, Cathy does not cut off all her hair. Chris is able to spend a day’s time using chemicals to get the tar out (although it thinned her hair considerably), but Cathy shaved the front of her head and covered the rest in a scarf to fool the Grandmother into feeding them again. In the movie, Cathy has Chris cut her hair when the treatment fails and it is cut into a spiky bob.
- The codicil is not mentioned in the movie, leading some to believe that Corrine did indeed lose interest in her children and really tried to kill them with arsenic coated doughnuts. In the movie, Corrine tells them that she would have been disowned had her father discovered them. In the book, Chris brings this up to his sisters when they aboard the bus to Sarasota, mentioning that any children produced by either of Corrine’s two marriages would cost her the family inheritance.
- The attic appears to be much smaller in the movie. The book depicts the attic as a maze so big one could get lost in it. There are no armories showed in the movie, but the ones in the book are described as being very heavy and full of old clothes.
- The book takes place over a period of over three years; the movie depicts two.
- In the book, the Grandmother beats both Chris and Cathy for back talking. In the movie, Chris is whipped with a belt buckle for asking to be called by his name instead of “Boy.” Cathy later treats his wounds.
- In the conclusion, the surviving Dollanganger Children (Cathy, Christopher, and Carrie) simply walk out with luggage using the wooden key they made and make their way to the train station, with their Grandmother looking out from a distance as they travel to Charlottesville. The movie shows that the Grandmother caught Chris as he is out to steal valuables and she discovers they have a key. There is a brief fight, they trap her in the attic stairwell, leaving her to her claustrophobia as they escape through the window with only the money in their pockets and the clothes on their backs before making their way out of town by train.
- Cathy and Chris, although knowing their feelings for each other are wrong, are more opened with each other about their feelings, and the sex is consensual in the movie. In the book, they are deeply ashamed, but the growing tension between them leads Chris to rape her, but they later reconcile and admit their feelings for each other.
- In the movie, the sexual encounter between Cathy and Chris leads to a pregnancy and miscarriage when Cathy is just 14. In the book, Cathy feared that she had become pregnant and was constantly horrified at the idea of giving birth to a deformed baby, but she later learns she never conceived with Chris.
The new Lifetime film promises to go there. Yes, there. “The script is faithful to the book,” says director Deborah Chow. Or, to put it more bluntly: “Will there be incest? Yes,” says Mason Dye, who plays elder brother Chris. “We stay very true to the book.”
We’ll have to wait till January to see just how dark this thing gets, but Ellen Burstyn, for one, says she was surprised at how exhausting it is to play a woman as evil as her character. “I’ve been completely drained by the end of the day,” the Oscar winner says. “I’ve been sleeping 11 hours a day. My psyche must be trying to clear it.”
Lifetime has already posted the trailer on Facebook.