Harriet has a cold glint and with dreary predictability Poppy turns out to be emotionally fragile, lonely and miserable. She bonds with her classmate via mass baths, phone box whore cards, a ‘Bunty’ like jumper, visiting an off-licence and a trying on clothes montage. Nick Frost pops up as a contrary hairdresser, Poppy and co dress like a prostitute convention at the school social, irksome romance raises its head and Harriet ups the ante to get rid of Poppy. This was okay despite the tone changes and Harriet’s obvious lying slime ball manipulation.
“I am Scottish not remedial.”
“I am calling my lawyer.”
“Have you ever thought of changing gears?”
“What is this place? Hogwarts?”
“You are going into town, not appearing in a window in Amsterdam.”
It is 1958 and the Dollanganger’s are a robust happy family until their father Christopher (an unobtrusive bore) dies in a car accident. Due to their mother Corrine’s expenditure being out of control, the family have no money and are in trouble. Cathy (Kiernan Shipka) is joy-resistant, Chris (Mason Dye) is smart and the twins Cory and Carrie are idiots. Rather than the drudgery of a job, Corrine heads home to the imposing Foxworth Hall and her estranged family.
Corrine (Heather Graham) judges it worth it for the Foxworth fortune and no responsibilities. Cathy pulls faces, Corrine obscures the truth and the grandmother (Ellen Burstyn) is controlling, uncertain and non-consoling. She is dismissive of Corrine and locks the four children away in a distant room. They have the attic to play in and they just have to stay long enough for Corrine to win back her father’s love and inherit his fortune. The Peeta look-alike Chris could have just kicked the door down but that is another story.
There is much Corrine hasn’t told them, like how the Foxworth’s like to keep it in the family. Corrine and Christopher were half-uncle and half-niece and that is why she is in disgrace. Corrine sees locking her children away as lucrative and ignores her grandmother abusing her progeny and making them feel like perverts. The children soon become peripheral to Corrine’s life and soon disposal doesn’t seem too bad. The grandmother who brings them food in a picnic basket every morning just sees them as unpalatable creatures that need to do penitence for existing.
Corrine pulls obvious deception tactics on her children as she acts like a spoilt teenager. She romances Bart (Dylan Bruce of ’Arrow’) at a Christmas party, accepts jewellery from her doting father and shows off her capacity for manipulation and false compliments. Cathy exculpates her mother. Corrine is an indisputable gold-digger as she has ostrich feathers on her dressing table and a bed with a backlit custom swan headboard. The feared grandfather seems nice, yet the children decline under the restrictions placed on them. Also puberty induces feelings.
Cathy dances en pointe in the attic. How do her slippers survive on the unvarnished floor? Cyclical child abuse takes place due to Corrine not having one iota of sense and sibling boundaries being sublimated. Chris finds a convenient length of rope in the attic. Corrine prattles on about marrying Bart and having a European honeymoon and then the children get doughnuts in the picnic basket.
Chris is an unhappy man-child, Cathy is sick of the fake garden in the attic, Chris gets a copy of the key which he somehow knows is the master key and Cathy and Chris engage in larceny to fund their escape. John Amos (Andrew Kavadas) builds an electric fence and patrols the grounds with a shotgun. One of the children succumbs to heavy metal poisoning and what did become of said child’s body? There are final revelations about who was doing the poisoning and the grandfather. This was excellent, dark and had a nice nod to the novel’s classic keyhole cover in the final shot. I look forward to ‘Petals on the Wind’.
“Your grovelling has always bored me.”
“We were really loved, but that was before.”
“I’m an ornament. The only thing I was ever good at was being pretty.”
“Some mothers are impossible to love.”
“When do we get to leave?”
“Why can’t he accept us?”
“Maybe someday you’ll have a daughter of your own that you can pass it on to.”
“You will never come out of this room! Not for any reason!”
“They have feelings in their parts.”
“You’re a stain on the Foxworth name!”
“Is he dead?”
“Why are we still here? All the money in the world is not worth this.”
“She’s dead to us now.”
“And all our shame and hopelessness would become hers.”