After the disappointing "Petals On the Wind" production, my expectations for this third chapter of the Dollanganger series, were compromised. But the creators of this latest film mostly redeem themselves, with this creepy, slickly produced story about the "seeds of evil," that are being planted inside Cathy's youngest son, Bart Sheffield. This wonderfully Gothic story deals with the systematic corruption of a child, who already has the blood of a fairly ruthless father. The cold and calculating Bart Winslow was a morally corrupt attorney that Cathy seduces away from her selfish, calculating mother, Corrine.
The creepy old woman who moves into the mansion next door to Cathy, her incestuous brother Chris and their two boys, has a dark secret. Behind the lace veil, Corrine Winslow is hiding, and she is planning on making a play at getting her family back. She is particularly interested in young Bart, and she sees him as the "son that should have been hers." And Bart, alone and awkward, is particularly susceptible to the mysterious woman's attentions. Under the tutelage of Corrine, and her sinister butler, John Amos, Bart is taught a fanatical religious ideology. And the love he has for his mother and father is poisoned by them both.
For a story with such dark tones, Lifetime television actually did a nice job. The film succeeds at being atmospheric and downright creepy. Of course all the usual flaws are present, mainly some of the acting being pretty awful at times, and some dialog is awkward and even preposterous. But the entire film rests on the shoulders of the young actor who plays Bart. This kid is really excellent, and he absolutely elevates this movie to a higher level. His acting abilities are so strong that they make the rest of the cast look bad. They all look the part of course; Cathy and Chris are soap opera-perfect blond dolls, and the actor who plays Jory is gorgeous. Purists will complain that Jory's hair isn't black, like that of his father Julian, but it is a minor issue. Disturbing scenes, like the killing of the dog, and the one with Bart and Cindy by the pool, are not shied away from, which makes this one a bit too intense for very young viewers. Of course a series with the subject of incest is not aimed at young audiences anyway.
"If There Be Thorns" is, so far the best film in the series. Of course my opinion might be biased as this was my personal favorite book in the series. It is also one of the best things Lifetime has ever done. At times this has the look of a theatrical production, and not a TV movie. My enthusiasm for the series has been renewed, and I am looking forward to the final installment, "Seeds of Yesterday." I'm hoping it is as Gothic and as evil as this one.
If There Be Thorns
If There Be Thorns
It's the 1980s. Brother and sister Christopher Jr. and Cathy Dollanganger, a surgeon and ballet teacher respectively, are the product of an incestuous but loving relationship between their married parents, who were half-uncle to niece. Chris and Cathy are now married to each other, and live under the last name Sheffield, the surname of who ended up being their adoptive father. They managed to escape from their mother, born Corrine Foxworth, who once tried to kill them so that she could inherit her estranged father's vast estate. Corrine, who ultimately did inherit all the money, was eventually institutionalized following a mental breakdown. Cathy has two children, teenager Jory, whose biological father is now deceased ballet dancer Julian Marquet, and preteen Bart, whose biological father is now deceased Bart Winslow, Corrine's second husband. While Jory knows about Julian, Bart knows nothing about Bart Sr.; neither knows about Chris and Cathy's sibling relationship. Chris treats both...
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April 06, 2018 at 05:08 AM