Those who read V.C. Andrews’ Flowers in the Attic at some point in the last few decades are likely looking forward to this weekend when Lifetime airs the small screen adaptation of the novel about four kids locked away for years by their own mother. It’s a dark, twisted and emotional story involving abuse, neglect and more incest than you might expect from your typical work of fiction. And it was once adapted into a major motion picture in 1987, starring Kristy Swanson.

For those who haven't read the book, Flowers in the Attic is set in the 50s and involves four siblings whose mother, Corrine, brings them back to their grandparents' wealthy estate after their father dies. In an effort to win her father's forgiveness and a place in his will, Corrine and her mother (a.k.a "The Grandmother") conspire to hide the kids in the northern wing bedroom to keep Corrine's father from learning of their existence. What's supposed to be days or weeks ends up spanning years. During which time Corrine slowly distances herself from her children, and the grandmother abuses them, delivering steady "justice" to the children she believes are the devil's spawn.

The 1987 movie based on the book was campy, stripped down and barely resembled Andrews’ novel. If you're a fan of the book, it's likely you’re hoping Lifetime’s movie will be better, in which case, you’ll be happy to know that it is. But there are some things you might want to know going into it, so you know how to accurately set your expectations ahead of the film’s debut (Saturday, January 18 at 8:00 p.m.). In terms of spoilers, when comparing the book to the film, I'm aiming for vagueness here. Unless you haven't read the book, in which case, some spoilers ahead.

It's not a page-for-page adaptation but it works a lot of the key scenes in.
If you were expecting this TV movie to cram every single event from Andrews’ novel into an hour and a half’s worth of footage, you will be disappointed, though I’ll add that your expectations were too high going into it. If this were a miniseries or limited series, that might’ve been possible, but let’s face it. Andrews’ novel spans years and no matter how much they condense, they’re not going to get all of it in there.

With that said, the film does manage to catch most of the necessary highlights from the original story, among which are the Christmas party, Mickey the mouse, Cathy’s hair and more. Some of the more abusive elements of the story are changed a bit and even toned down, but the alterations aren't so drastic that the context is dramatically altered. Among the most notable deviations from the story is the ending, which takes a bit of a detour at one point. It’s pretty evident that the alteration was done to create a bit more suspense for the final act. Rest assured, it doesn't change much about the story -- certainly not by comparison to the ending of the original movie. And it leaves off with an opening for a sequel, which we may very well see as Lifetime says they’re developing Petals on the Wind.

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