So, I ve struggled to work out how to even attempt to review this – do I do it as a fan and pick apart every single detail ? Do I review it as a movie ? Seriously, I’m as confused as Audrina here – Not good.
So I ve decided to let myself become an empty pitcher and just hope my vessel of thoughts become filled 😉
And I hope I don’t need a rocking chair to write this –
Hauntingly Gothic, just like the book , the movie opened in the families graveyard where they are paying respect to the first and best Audrina – unfortunately young Audrina has a clipped English accent for some reason as she fills the audience in with the mysterious and strange story of her sisters death and the claustrophobic atmosphere of growing up in the families estate named Whitefern. Its off putting to say the least – as off putting as the fact her hair is dark and not the chameleon “witchy” hair the book raves on about compared to Vera s apricot hair which is also a fetching dark here.
Meh! Small detail you may say but it’s not – you see in a V C Andrews books even the smallest detail can tell you a lot. And Virginia put great detail into Audrina’s hair. Believe me the hairs important. However, I was already mentally prepared for this but not the accent.
Another surprise was an obvious tweak to the timeline – Lucietta is very obviously pregnant here and Aunt Ellsbeth is quite a sexy lady – not the dowdy, put upon spinster aunt with a hatred for men that we know and love but more on that later.
Also I need to talk about that gravestone , seriously not only is it creepy it looks more like a toddler – as our Neisha Chetty joked it seems that found a way to keep Sylvia in the movie after all.
Yes, I’ll get it out of the way now , there was no Sylvia nor Billie 😢 I ve already commented on why this was a big mistake on my previous post on the trailer when it was only a suspicion they had been cut so I won’t repeat myself here. But perhaps Lifetime just didn’t want to tiptoe on the obvious disability area and maybe that s for the best judging by their efforts at these adaptation s .
Whitefern is actually a perfect location and the cinematography here superb , it has a gothic eerie vibe as described and as fans remember though no peeling paint or nude statues to be seen
The scenes of Audrina tip toeing through the house, trying not to step on the colours of the stained glass were pure magic
Only to be confronted by the clocks going backwards as she sways obviously drugged and confused and terrified
However, they messed up the rhyme big time :
As regular readers and members will know theorist neisha Chetty actually explained what was so significant as to this rhyme in context to what audrina had experienced so changing it was another major no no.
Especially in an American sing song voice. This rhyme is actually a playground chant too and as this audrina spoke in her clipped English, to me it really jarred.
A complete breath of fresh air though has to be Kacey Rohl as spiteful cousin /half sister Vera
Her portrayal of her completey deranged , twisted mind and hatred of Audrina absolutely stole the show and was the closest portrayal to any of the characters from the book.
Unfortunately she wasn’t in many scenes but I wish she had been, in fact I wish that they had shown more of the childhood in Whitefern altogether.
Another big disappointment was young Arden the “caretaker s son ” who breathlessly rushed through his lines – and I had so wanted to like him as he posted so many pictures from onset to fans.
James Tupper as Damien was a revelation , though it was obvious that they wanted to show all the underlying qualities of Damien from the book as opposed to the narcissistic, controlling, wife beating, emotionally abusive prick he is. Whereas readers know he was desperately insecure and needy , I suspect lifetime worried viewer s wouldn’t therefore had him portray a more vulnerable Damien who was just trying to save his daughter.
However, there was still room for some creepy “let’s look how close we are as a family ” vibes including getting audrina to shave him before taking her for her “therapy / child abuse ” in the rocking chair……
Which was just as many imagined as was the playroom , white and pure just as daddy liked.
But these scenes were possibly even more disturbing than written in the book (no mean feat) and trod on dangerous ground with the whole “hang on – is he sexually abusing her ?” element
And again, another golden opportunity missed with the lack of inclusion of her playroom song
Instead we got heavy breathing from Pa, frantic rocking of the chair whilst he covered her in kisses and gloriously spooky dolls looked on as she was traumatically relieving memories of the first Audrina on that fateful day.
This was literally in the first twenty minutes, by the time Lucietta , momma, had died during the miscarriage of “the baby she made especially for” Audrina and subsequently lost due to the shock of seeing audrina enter the woods – another thing no repeated warnings of not to go into the woods , the woods are dangerous. In this version, the house was very much the prison built to contain Audrina and she knew it. Book Audrina had no idea …..
Somebody counted she died in the 13th minute so …no time for Aunt Mercy Marie s Teatime – another fan favourite and a great insight into the rivalry between the two sisters which is echoed in their own children .
Bizarrely, after the commercial break both Audrina and Vera had grown up and subsequently events that happens during their childhood in the book takes place when they are nearly adults.
This takes away from the childhood sweetheart element of Arden and audrina s relationship, the innocence, her beginning to question damiens authority and try and unravel the mystery of the first Audrina. … how she would enter the woods by herself and slowly gaining courage and independence from the confused vulnerable child she was at the start of the book.
So quarter of the book , skipped ….
Man I should have sent them my timeline 😉
Grown up and more changes abound showed that , instead of being the bitter shrew of a shrivelled up aunt , Ellsbeth is in fact more of a Lucietta in character . Mothering to Audrina , looking pretty glamorous and obviously weak when it comes to Damien. Oh well , two out of three ain’t bad
And Arden has morphed into a hotty! But also a potential stalker as he seems to pop out of the woods to ask her for a date from nowhere much to her and our surprise.
Of course, they have romanticised Arden (the lowest of the) Lowe and Audrina accepts his offer of a picnic at the lake (river!!!!) which of course Vera now played by the superb Tessa Atkins gatecrashes , gets Arden to rub sunscreen on whilst having full knowledge 1)damiens on his way and 2) she’s hidden audrina s clothes and left her in her bathing suit.
Of course , what follows is a brilliant scene which follows the book closely of an irate Damien dragging a hysterical, shamed audrina to the tree they found the first Audrina under and emotionally abusing her so badly it hurts.
At some time after that , we get the scene where Vera and Audrina s piano teacher get it on. Of course they erased any paedo element of it all by aging the girls and not having Vera mimicking audrina to turn him on. But they did give us piano porn …..
Which then leads to the whole Vera showing audrina Porno scene , again totally out of book sequence
But it did give us fans our own version of eat the cookie in the form of eat the porn ! which was as brilliantly bonkers as the book
However, they used this as the reason Vera left with Lamar and denied us all Veras bloody miscarriage scene and Ellsbeth cold response – BOO
Audrina discover s her aunt and father’s are lovers and proceeds to rock frantically in the chair – how viewers didn’t click audrina has had some sort sexual trauma at this point I don’t know or at least a very real fear of sex
But audrina really has nothing to worry about as the next morning she finds her aunt dead at the bottom of the stairs …. no argument between her and Damian about her leaving, no mysteriously disappearing check , no list of suspects as sylvia s not there and Damien is heartbroken.
In fact he clings to Audrina more , and refuses to let her see Arden so she has a hissy fit smashes up the playroom and escapes to the lake where she convinces Arden to elope. This audrina is beautifully played but feisty as hell. Probably been taking lessons from Cathy Dollanganger
And her wedding is incredibly romantic , nothing like the book version where they were married by a fat balding justice of peace – oh no movie audrina gets married in a meadow under a flower arch.
Of course they come back to whitefern and Damien does his whole doting dad bit … no Billie though for him to seduce and no giving Arden a job in his stockbroker firm …. instead he gets the commission of revamping whitefern
He’s sickeningly understanding when she goes into complete meltdown on their wedding night at the mere thought of intimacy and of course he doesn’t force her because he is the romantic hero not the Cowardly rat bag we all know he is.
So this is where I leave my review/recap of part one I’m exhausted