It'll whip that smile off your face!
Second attempt at bringing to screen a novel by the same name, this is a troubling story of religious zeal, rape, incest, and child abuse. It contains shocking psychological and physical torture. Well written, shot and paced, it handles its subject brilliantly, not that it makes the film easier to watch. The plot ventures further than the 1987 version and it does so with admirable tact.
Like the protagonists, the bad guys are given depth. The kids are manipulated, starved, pushed to their limit. It's a sad spectacle that escalates into critical situations and a point of no return. Flowers in the Attic suggests that mental illness and family dysfunction may very well be a contagious psychological gene, and that history repeats itself when it comes to violence and control.
Sadly, we hit the same wall we did in the original. Sure, the kids are held hostage, threatened and lied to, but that shouldn't prevent them from fighting back when violated. It becomes hard to believe that an old lady and a dying man pose a serious threat. Regardless, the story is captivating and the performances fascinating.