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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,
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
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.
Tags for If There Be Thorns Full Movie
, Jason Lewis
, Mason Cook
, Rachael Carpani
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