From the team behind the Lifetime’s Flowers in the Attic made-for-TV-movie comes this film, based on the book that I read when I was 13 and totally forgot about until this movie aired and I realized I remember EVERY DETAIL OF THE STORY. It’s just the everyday story of an average girl, raised in complete isolation who struggles with PTSD flashbacks despite having apparent amnesia, the grown men who love her, and the cousin who… well, you’ll see.
Get used to that “FML” expression on her face because you are going to be seeing A LOT of it over the next two hours.
Meet Audrina, who is actually The Second Audrina. She had an older sister, also named Audrina who died at age 9 under CIRCUMSTANCES NO ONE CAN EVER DISCUSS. Every Sunday, Audrina-2 and her family visit the creepy statue-tomb of Audrina-1 and remember her. Even though Audrina-2 never met Audrina-1. Just go with it.
The girl in this pic isn’t Audrina, it’s her slightly lookalike cousin* Vera who is Officially The Worst, even at this young age. Frankly, even at a younger age. I’m assuming in utero fetal Vera was already The Worst because: you can’t even begin to imagine what this girl gets up to. The statue is, obviously, the grave of Audrina-1.
* Stay tuned for updates on this genetic connection. She may be MORE THAN JUST AUDRINA’S COUSIN.
Oh, and then here’s the reason we’re recapping this mess, Revenge‘s David Clarke stars as Audrina’s cray father. Dude is getting handsomer with age, my goodness. In this fine film, he wears three-piece suits and gazes off into the middle distance basically all the time.
Also, that’s Audrina’s Mom. She dies pretty soon so you don’t need to know much about her.
As a fashion blogger, it’s my duty to point out Audrina’s lovely wool coat here because she doesn’t wear another coat for the rest of the movie, which takes place over like ten years, but entirely in summer. It’s a sort of Rosewood sort of time progression.
So, all anyone wants is for The Second Audrina to become more like The First Audrina, a girl so sweet that’s literally all her grave says: MY SWEET AUDRINA. (Nobody has last names in this.) But the pressure to live up to the pristine memory of her dead sister is more than Audrina-2 can bear. To encourage the process of merging the two Audrinas, Aud-2 is forced on the reg to sit in Aud-1’s rocking chair to channel her sister’s spirit… sort of thing.
FYI whenever she sits in this chair, Aud-2 gets visions of bleeding-eyed dolls and being chased through the woods and terrible trauma, which she’s told are Audrina 1’s memories and she just has to power through them. Sound psychotherapy.
We don’t really get a sense of what decade this takes place in until Vera shows up in latter seasons Sally Draper drag. So, it’s the late 1960s I guess.
Vera also solidifies her role as tween socipath/psychopathby pouring out a bag of Valentines in front of Audrina like, “THESE WERE ALL GIVEN TO ME!!! NOT YOU, ME!!!!! BECAUSE EVERYONE LOVES ME AND HATES YOU SO BAD!!! EVEN THOUGH NOBODY’S EVER MET YOU BECAUSE YOU ARE HOMESCHOOLED!!”
Notably, this is not the only time Vera flings paper malevolently in front of Audrina.
In addition to leading a hermit lifestyle and having only a children’s rocking chair as a psychiatrist, Audrina can’t keep track of time and has amnesia. This may or may not be due to the literal drawer of pills her father’s keeping her on:
Also of note: she’s not allowed to leave the creepy mansion ever and is not allowed to have any friends, especially boys. So the fact that this boy, who lives with his mother on the grounds, wants to be friends, is sort of an issue.
His name is Arden and I’d like to note that, at this point in time, he and Audrina appear to be roughly the same age:
I’m also pretty sure this is the only time we see Audrina smile in the entire movie.
This is also, I think, the only minidress she wears. Post-puberty, Cray Daddy clearly institutes some hemline regulations. But how sweet is this jumper/turtleneck/tights lewk? Would that all tween girls dressed this cutely. Also: note, she’s off in the woods. This is of course against the rules, and also the woods are incredibly triggering for her FOR SOME REASON.
She gets a woods-related panic attack and flees back to the manor where, as it turns out, her mother has just miscarried (because she was pregz before, I forgot to say). Her mother, as she lays DYING OF MISCARRIAGE, is like, “This is because you left the grounds, Audrina!!! Never leave the house again!!! I blame you!!!”
The trauma of “causing” her mother’s death makes Audrina’s Dad double-down on the rocking chair therapy sessions AND causes Audrina herself to suddenly age into a different actress, who now speaks with an inconsistent Irish accent:
She’s older to some indefinite extent, hard to tell because she’s still wearing pink overall dresses. Previous Audrina was about 11, and this one could be anywhere from 13-22. No idea. She has no idea either. Time does not make sense in her life, or in this movie.
BUT if we’re going by the relative age of Arden, New!Audrina is approximately 35 at this point. Boyfriend has aged at least 15 years from last sighting. Are we sure he’s not the father of the boy from the last scene?
Vera’s also aged up dramatically, and single-handedly steers the fashion firmly into the 1970s one feathered lock of hair at a time. There are… a lot of peasant tops to come, you guys.
This new Audrina actress is allowed to leave the house on her own (!) but only for piano lessons with this guy, who I think sweats patchouli oil. The beads! The denim shirt! He’s like a runaway from Lifetime’s Charles Manson movie.
Having not interacted with the outside world before, Audrina thinks he’s pretty great. She’s also now in a period of her life where she wears exclusively wispy sundresses and cardigans. Who buys her clothes? You’d think it’s her creepy, obsessive Dad, but left up to him she’d be in onesies and ruffled smocks, not roughly age-appropriate sundresses*.
(*we don’t actually know her age, of course).
Audrina’s enjoying her piano lessons, which sends up Vera’s internal “AUDRINA IS NOT FULLY MISERABLE I MUST INTERVENE” alarm. So of course V shows up at the lesson all “LAMAR, WON’T YOU PLEASE STRADDLE ME AND TEACH ME ME TO PLAY WITH YOUR HANDS ON MY HANDS IN A SEXY SORT OF WAY”. Quite the psychadelic mini she’s got there. The bell sleeves are especially good for the close-ups of their gross hands touching. Hemline is not ideal for sitting on a piano bench, unless your plan is to seduce the teacher, which hers is, so I guess that makes this… ideal.
This motif of Vera staring pointedly at Audrina while grinding up against some dude will recur, and often. As will this look of pained resignation on Audrina’s face:
After their reunion as intangibly older people, Audrina starts illicit meet-ups with Arden. Their first secret date is a trip to the lake where they display the raw sexual chemistry that I’m sure led to both actors being cast in these roles:
Her retro one-piece is actually really cute, though it’s so similar to her porcelain complexion she looks a lot more naked than she really is.
Oh, and Arden’s got the physique of all love interests in all Lifetime movies, namely: shoulders and abs.
Naturally, permanent third wheel Vera appears from basically thin air to crash the party, all, “ARDEN PUT SUNTAN OIL ON MY BACK WHILE I TAKE OFF MY TOP HA HA TANLINES ARE THE WORST AM I RIGHT?”
And the fact that Audrina is not yet a serial killer becomes more impressive. Girl has got massive amounts of secret hidden rage, just waiting to burst.
Anyway, as you might anticipate, Aud’s Dad shows up, flips out at his daughter’s exposed skin, and hustles them all back home NEVER TO SEE THAT BOY AGAIN.
The cousins* wind up on Cinderella duty, scrubbing the floors in what I can only assume was what teens wore for house cleaning in the 1970s: a boobs-exposing peasant top for V and… frankly, a maid’s uniform for A. She’s gone from Miss Hannigan’s Orphan to 1970s Real Housewife without a stop into fun young woman. Is that the true tragedy of her life? Discuss.
* family relationship still not confirmed.
Anyway, we next catch up with Audrina en route to her next lesson with Lamar the hippie piano teacher. Arden, wearing his first fully 1970s garment in this wide-collared light wash jean jacket, drops her off in his “I am a blue-collar and trustworthy person, not like your rich and evil family” pick-up truck.
And just in case you hadn’t picked up on the subtle hints of 1970sness thus far, Audrina has to pass through a series of bead curtains to get to the piano. I have a bad feeling about this, you guys.
Yeah, Vera’s banging Lamar literally ON THE PIANO. While keeping one eye out for Audrina so she can smirk at her.
Audrina rushes back out to where Arden’s still waiting for her, and panic kisses him.
… Which, due to her massive amounts of psychological damage, leads to more PTSD flashbacks to bleeding doll’s eyes, running through the woods, screaming, her mother’s miscarriage/death ET AL. You know it’s bad because Arden’s being shot in these low angles now, making us wonder if maybe he’s also totally evil??
Vera struts into Audrina’s room later that night throwing down her best Samantha Jones overshare as she describes the exact sensations of banging Lamar. She then awesomely flings carefully cut-out porno pics onto Audrina’s bed while screaming, “SEX IS GREAT! YOU SHOULDN’T BE SO UPTIGHT!!! MAYBE YOU’LL FIND SOME FUN NEW POSITIONS IN THESE CLIPPINGS! SEXXXXXXX!!!!”
Wish we’d had a montage of her cutting out these porno pics because that shit is UNHINGED.
Audrina deals with this the only way she knows how, imagining herself in her rocking chair of doom.
Beardy Clarke puts his foot down, fully kicking Vera out of the manse. Even Vera’s mother is like, “Whoa, who raised that monster?” **looking anywhere but at herself**
Yeah, so Vera’s Mom has been living in the hosue with the rest of the dysfunctional clan all along. And surprise! In incest-adjacent news, she’s been hooking up with her brother-in-law for the past several decades… as Audrina discovers after accidentally stumbling into this scene from 50 Shades of Grey Hair. Making Vera her cousin/half-sister.
Yeah, I’m right there rocking with you, girl.
Aaaand then because it’s been awhile since someone died, Vera’s Mom is discovered dead at the bottom of the grand staircase. Who discovers the body? Audrina, because: girl needs more trauma in her life.
Another funeral, rinse, repeat. Audrina’s wardrobe is apparently either pastel shirtdresses or blousy black funeral numbers.
Anyway, Auds is getting tired of this whole “trapped inside the crazy house” thing and lashes out at her Dad, eventually trashing Audrina 1.0’s room and then running away as fast as her platform espadrilles will take her.
Since the only non-family people she’s ever interacted with are Lamar and Arden, she makes the best possible call and meets up with her childhood friend. I mean, ideally she’d have some female friends or non-predatory friends or non-creepy relatives but given her extremely limited social circle, Arden is pretty much her only option. I’ll allow it.
Next thing you know, these two crazy kids are getting married in a meadow (?):
But just when you it seems their lives are going OK, they head back to visit Audrina’s family – currently comprised of just her father – for their honeymoon. Because what better place to honeymoon than the insane mansion that’s been driving her crazy her whole life? Check out the happy clan:
The honeymoon goes precisely as well as you’d expect, considering Audrina’s amnesia, Arden’s secrets, and the fact they’re in the house that’s tormented her entire life. Which is to say: these two will not be anywhere near the bone zone for the foreseeable future.
You know what this marriage needs? Interference by Audrina’s sexually aggressive secret half-sister/cousin. Vera! What a lovely surprise. Please come in for a visit. Audrina’s sticking with her grown-up style of 100% pastel print shirtdresses while Vera continues to offer up every single trend the 1970s has to offer. This time: crochet crop top.
And then: sheer peasant tops. I’ll just let you know these two are peeling and chopping up carrots and leave it to your imagination what Vera has to say about this really huge one.
Snaps to whatever intern Lifetime sent out to the farmer’s market to bring back this wildly phallic root vegetable.
In other news: Audrina and Arden still haven’t done the deed. The issue is clearly not Audrina’s array of cute nightgowns, because this is super sweet despite being likely 100% polyester. And Arden still has dem abs, so no problem on that front. If only these two could sort through their hidden psychological problems and TERRIBLE SECRETS.
Actually, they’re taking baby steps toward pound town when OH NOES Vera throws herself off a step-stool, injuring her foot so now she has to move in with them. Which means she starts seducing Arden between much immediately like, “Hey Arden, you ever make it with a girl with a crutch?”
Three guesses who walks in and sees them, and the first two guesses don’t count because they’re all Audrina, in yet another shirtdress!
Traumatized yet again by displays of unhealthy sexuality, Audrina wanders out onto the roof in these very cute but very dangerous-looking espadrilles.
At which point, Arden and her Dad come clean: there was no Audrina-1, there’s only ever been her. WAIT, WHAT?? Check it: Audrina was brutally assaulted in the woods when she was 9, and rather than offering her psychological counselling, her family provided electro-shock treatments and brought her up believing the attack was on her fake sister Audrina. As we have all now seen, that’s clearly the way to deal with trauma in children because AUDRINA HAS NO ISSUES ANYMORE. Great job, all involved.
Somehow, this new info makes Audrina suddenly ready for sexytimes with Arden. Healthily, she loses her v card in the shed adjacent to the graveyard home of the memorial statue to her childhood innocence.
So things are sorta OK for five seconds until later that night (or anther night? Time has no meaning) she heads out for a Crimson Peak style late-night stroll. STAY AWAY FROM THE STAIRCASE… le sigh.
This family seriously needs to get these railings replaced.
But unlike everyone else who falls down these stairs, she’s Totally Not Dead. Just sort of comatose. And what better place to recuperate than in The First Audrina’s nursery, which was actually her nursery, because I can’t emphasize this enough: THERE HAS ONLY BEEN ONE AUDRINA ALL ALONG.
Terrible Vera and her leg cast are still sliming around, currently at the stage of unhinged soap opera villainess that involves pouring roofies (or the 1970s equivalent, Quaaludes?) into Arden’s tea. Arden, your first mistake was drinking tea in this house.
Vera hits peak villainy by standing by comatose Audrina’s bedside and confessing to everything. Literally EVERYTHING. Who pushed her mom down the stairs? Vera! Who pushed Audrina down the stairs? Vera! Who arranged the brutal gang-rape of 9-year-old Audrina? … Holy shit, 9-year-old Vera.
Even little kid Audrina has mastered the FML face. She had no chance in this family, honestly.
So, post-confession, Vera heads off to fully rape Arden:
But LOOK OUT because Audrina’s rage finally builds up until she wills herself out of her coma and is ready for revenge. She’s like, “Vera did everything! J’accuse!”
And Vera’s like, “I’m just misunderstood! It was affluenza! I have daddy issues! I have a secret evil twin! I was off my meds! [Insert desperate excuse here]!!!”
Nobody’s buying what she’s selling, so girlfriend storms out. Unfortch, her escape route passes by the stairs of doom and, well…
Peace out, Vera. Nobody’s going to miss you. Nobody even bothered to find out your last name.
So things end as they began, with the family thinned out but slightly less insane. And still, apparently, living in the mansion of creepy evil? Maybe now less evil with Vera gone??
The fact that this is the only VC Andrews book without a thousand sequels outlining the messes her descendants made of their lives, I think Audrina and Arden may just live happily ever after. Or as happy as possible in a land with this much polyester.