What the heavens?!
Lifetime is at it again with its Book-to-Screen series, and this time, it's adapting another V.C. Andrews series to accompany the batshit crazy Flowers in the Attic series.
There is no shortage, after all, so bring on the Casteel family drama!
Lucky for you guys, this is my first experience with this series having never read the books, and so far, the summation of my reaction is "what, and I cannot emphasize this enough, the f**k?"
Heaven is the first movie in the series, and it's peak entertainment if you watch it as an accidental comedy as the good lord intended.
It also helps if you took a shot of Moonshine every time you heard or thought the word "twisted." Please, always drink responsibly though; alcohol poisoning is real (and a real possibility because Heaven the movie was so twisted).
The Casteels were the backwoods pariahs of a small, judgmental town who had nothing better to do than to pick on the poor hillbillies. If hillbilly pariahs are your thing, you should check out the late WGN series Outsiders.
It's too bad the Casteel family didn't have more bite. Their other townmates were all 50 pounds of crazy in a five-pound bag, so were any of them in the position to shun the Casteels?
Hell Heaven's no!
Speaking of Heaven, if belonging to the scandalous Casteel family wasn't bad enough, she was the literal redheaded stepchild of the Casteel family. On the nose much?
Heaven: What did I ever do to make him treat me like this? Hmm?
Granny: Come with me.
Why can't redheads be happy? #GingerRights.
The problem with Heaven is, she couldn't control who her mother was and what she looked like, but she didn't help herself at all during school.
Like most "not like the other girls" heroines of young adult stories, she was a drab, milquetoast character with less personality than a sopping wet napkin. I say that with love.
Why were two men in love with her? Riddle me that.
Fanny: Even good girls have orgasms, Heaven.
She wasn't caught up in appearances, loved her family, and she was smart. She was so smart, you guys. The smartest!
We knew this because of her being a bibliophile, Tom telling her repeatedly, and the defining moment when she thought Shakespeare-splaining Romeo and Juliet to her English teacher was a great idea.
It was supposed to be a moment where we found her sympathetic, but I sided with Teach on that one. Know-It-All 101 is figuring out how to get your geek on without the condescension.
She "Well, actually-ed" herself to the principal's office, and I couldn't even feel bad for her. That's the real reason she didn't have friends!
For some reason, it was enough to appeal to new kid Logan Stonewall with the baby-faced good looks and quarterback vibes. It made no sense.
Am I the only one who felt as though I blinked and missed their relationship? When did it happen? One minute he was small-talking, and another they were two star-crossed lovers torn apart because of Luke Casteel's inability to function as the average parent.
Logan was nice to her twice, and in a puzzling move, sacrificed his chance at making any impression he wanted as the new kid, by becoming her boyfriend. Except, it was alluded to but barely shown.
Logan's mother came around a couple of times to point her shame finger and curse the Casteel name, but that was the extent of the star-crossed lover angle, and Logan was barely a thought, not even at the end of the movie when she didn't say goodbye to him before she left.
He showed an unusual interest in Heaven's crappy home life, but not enough to call child services or anything. Did anyone in that town consider child services? It was around back then, but my God, none of the children there were safe.
Heaven's mistreatment spanned her childhood. Luke barely looked at her and banished her away from the rest of the kids even though she was one of the oldest and looked after them.
Granny: Shame on you for treating her that way. You can at least let her know why!
It was the thing where he hurt her and treated her like pond scum out of love and pain. Heaven was the spitting image of her mother, Angel, who was the love of Luke's life who died delivering Heaven.
The girl came into this world a problem; she couldn't catch a break if she tried. What I don't get is why he bothered to keep her if she caused him so much pain. Couldn't he have sent her away to Angel's rich family back then and spared his entire family his misery?
He spent most of his time away "working" and drinking himself silly and apparently, was only home long enough to knock his consolation prize wife up. He left her and Granny to take care of the children.
Luke was trash. Yes, he was a depressed man who never got over the death of Angel, but there was no end to the ways he effed up. They were living in squalor, for starters, but thanks to him banging whomever, his wife not only endured an at-home birth on the dingy floor of their shack but the baby came out stillborn as gnarled as a tree root.
TWISTED! It was so TWISTED!
Was it Chlamydia? It must have been. Yikes!
Sarah: All twisted! The baby was all twisted!
Because Luke couldn't keep his happy stick in his trousers, their baby was dead, and his wife lost her mind. Oh, and if it wasn't bad enough, Granny keeled over and died too, out of stress, or disappointment, or as the most dramatic and effective form of running away.
Mission accomplished, Granny. This movie was fun. There were funerals for days.
Logan, being the doting boyfriend who has known Heaven for three minutes and four lines, wore his Sunday best to support Heaven at the funeral; the funeral she put together for Granny and twisted baby since her stepmother had checked out.
Tom: You gotta keep hope alive, mom.
Sarah: Oh yeah? You try keeping hope alive!
I know it was supposed to be a sad affair, but Heaven's stepmother snapping after Tom attempted to soothe her with a platitude like "Keep hope alive" was one of the funniest scenes of the movie. YOU keep hope alive, Tom!
Samantha Coughlan committed to this role like it was going on her Emmy reel, and I respect it!
Sarah said "f**k them kids (and Luke)" and fled. Good for her. She didn't even wait for Luke to return, which made things awkward as hell when he came home to a dead mom and baby and then later on, a missing wife.
Luke's grief consisted of selling his children. Did he get money for them, or did he ship them away? It was a shocking and shitty thing to do. Parents threatened that sort of thing all the time, but they didn't do it!
Luke: It's not safe for you to be in this house with me -- be in this house with me, but I've made arrangements.
But hear me out, Luke could've been on to something as far as acknowledging he couldn't take care of them anymore. He was a drunken mess who couldn't tend to the twins.
He couldn't give Fanny what she needed, and Tom was probably better off making a life for himself. Oh yeah, and no way he could've had Heaven around if he kept mistaking her for her mother.
Daddy was starting to take on a different feeling when he was heavy-breathing all over her and calling her Angel. It was for the best he sent her away.
The problem wasn't sending his children away so much as giving them to people and not knowing what kind of people they were. Do some research or something!
The only thing he knew about the family who took the twins was they had money. Wealthy people can be the worst, we know this, what the hell, Luke? I guess he gets brownie points for not separating them.
He sent the hot to trot Fanny to live with the pedophilic reverend. Everything about him was creepy and gross, so how can one send his daughter to live with a sexual predator who knocked her up the first night and kept her hostage in the house?
They're in the same damn town, and he doesn't know about his pregnant daughter's abuse? We didn't see the twins anymore, so it appears Tom may have had the better deal working on a farm.
God knows Heaven's experience was a rollercoaster ride.
Kitty was quite the character, and while I gave her kudos for being a working woman who acquired two people to serve at the pleasure of her highness, the woman was 50 kinds of f**ked up!
Julie Benz was fabulous though!
What was the power dynamic in Kitty's household? She adopted a boy toy (and I would love to know how exactly that came about), and Cal was there looking pretty, pretending to write a novel, and playing his part as a kept man.
Cal was super hot, and a tuft of hair fell into his eyes just so, and he was an artist. If not for the fact that he fell in love with an underaged teenager, he wouldn't have been so bad.
It's too bad we never found out his story. It seemed like he was trapped every bit as much as Heaven in Kitty's super-clean house of misplaced childhood trauma and despair.
Did she pick him up in another small town? Did she kidnap him from college and promise to be his sugar mommy? What did he do in that house all day before Heaven got there?
Did he spend his days two-finger plucking at a typewriter and waiting for Mommy to get home so he could give her foot massages and some Vitamin D?
Is it wrong that I found him more fascinating than Heaven, including the fact that he found her fascinating?
Kitty: What's it like when I'm at work, and you're here all day with my husband?
Heaven had zero personality, sad hair, and spoke in a manner which contradicted this intellect she claimed to have. Why in heaven's name did Cal fall for her? Was it just that she was something new, closer to his age, and proximity?
Kitty claimed she wanted a daughter, but she didn't want a child; she wanted a servant. She could have hired a maid and had the same effect of Heaven scrubbing the apartment spotless while listening to music. No matter the decade, it's the only acceptable way to clean.
Kitty resorted to treating Heaven as her mother treated her. Her mom's abusive childrearing combined with her obsession with Heaven being the daughter of her true love and his true love and her jealousy over Heaven's relationship with Cal had Kitty spazzing out.
Kitty: You know when I was a bad girl, my mama made me take a hot bath to get me real clean.
Heaven: I haven't been bad!
It's insane how Kitty didn't consider how moving in a teenage girl and having her stay all day trapped in the house with her damn near teenaged husband wouldn't backfire.
She could have sent her to school instead of having Heaven flouncing around and stretching across counters while giving Cal inappropriate boners.
She could've paid attention to Cal's insistence he wasn't Heaven's father, except the time he told her to call him daddy in private, and it sounded more suggestive than even he probably intended. Eww.
Cal: You can call me daddy.
Heaven: OK, that's weird.
Cal: There's nothing weird between us. Only good things.
She could have spared herself the heartache, and she sure as hell could have spared Heaven second-degree burns from being dunked in scalding water. What good is being clean if you're dead, Kitty?!
Heaven had no recovery period from the incident, and her milky white skin remained unblemished. I bump into a lukewarm toaster oven and get more damage.
Of course, it would have made her forbidden romp with her not- Daddy but definite Zaddy less sexy if she was tender to the touch and scarred. Whatever.
If Kitty was sick and not going to work, who paid for everything like Cal's birthday picnic adventure with Heaven that definitely wasn't a date?
In hindsight, Cal didn't appear to give a damn about Kitty at all. The second Kitty fell ill his first priority was to take Heaven for a ride. Um, in the car (that time).
I'm unconvinced he didn't leave the women alone to find someone else for release or to rub one out before he returned to find Heaven knocked out on the floor.
Cal: I love you Heaven.
And instead of being concerned about the state of his sick wife, he spent his time comforting Heaven, biblically. The guy went from "it's inappropriate for her to sleep in the same bed as us" to banging Heaven on the living room floor within hearing distance of his sleeping wife real damn quick.
Heaven was the one who suggested getting Kitty help. Kitty would've died on Cal's watch. Damn, my guy.
Grace, Kitty's mom who for some damn reason looked the same age as Kitty, was terrible. We found out how Kitty became who she was, but it didn't excuse Kitty's behavior.
It sure as hell didn't make her deathbed scene cute. You treat me as a slave, scald me with hot water, and knock me out, I'll be damned if I'm lying about you being a good "mom" for the months you held me captive.
Kitty: Was I a good mother, Heaven? Even though I only was for a little while. I want to make sure I didn't make a mess of this. It's my dying wish.
Heaven: You were a good mother
But Heaven is perfect and gracious, I guess, so she curled up with her pseudo-mom like they were bosom buddies for years. But then again, she also engaged in some weird BDSM level foreplay with Cal in Grace's kitchen when he was supposed to "punish" her for talking to Logan.
And they also got way too close making out outside of Kitty's bedroom. Slut-shaming is wrong, especially when Heaven is an underaged girl engaging in a sexual relationship with a guy who is supposed to be her adoptive father.
The consent issue is muddled, and there is the whole statutory rape thing to consider, but all I could think about is if she was afraid the town would call her another Casteel whore, why was she getting frisky with Cal out in the open?
I can't even process Kitty giving Heaven her blessing to continue banging her adopted father. Honestly, and I say this slowly and with feeling, What. The. F**k?!
Leave it to Kitty to bequeath Heaven her human sex toy. It's what mothers do!
Kitty: Heaven, Cal is in love with you. Heave, if you're happy with him, you have my blessing.
It's fair to assume Cal may have been a victim of sorts much like Heaven, but his lack of damns given and nary a tear or ounce of concern being expressed about his wife's cancer and death juxtaposed against his ridiculous love for Heaven is mindblowing.
Did Kitty leave funds along with her blessing? Cal wanted Heaven to run off with him instead of going to meet her mysterious well off grandparents who suddenly want to meet her despite her being a product of hillbilly trash.
He claimed he could take care of her, but how? He had no job and no money, and we never got to find out if the book he was working on was worthy of publication. If Heaven became his muse when she arrived, what the hell was he writing beforehand?
At least Cal got a goodbye though. I suppose he's off to find a new sugar mommy and lick his wounds over his teenage lost love.
And she had an unusual goodbye with her father, which consisted of their hands pressed against the glass door and him mistaking her for her mom. Man, you could trip and fall into uncomfortable sexual tension between characters during this movie.
It seemed to be a theme of inappropriate relationships and characters not finding happiness with the love of their lives: Luke and Angel, Kitty and Luke, Logan and Heaven, and Cal and Heaven.
Best Laugh-out-loud lines:
- "Even good girls have orgasms, Heaven." Fanny, please! It was at that moment, I knew things would not work out well for Fanny.
- "You try keeping hope alive" Let the woman be bitter and pessimistic in peace! Shove your hope up your arse, kid!
- "Now you're here. My new hobby." Ma'am! You better go back to arts and crafts!
- "You don't think you're interesting enough?" Not particularly, Cal. Heaven couldn't even lie to herself like that.
- Cal fetishizing Heaven's backwoods, poverty-stricken upbringing as if he was studying her from afar was too much.
- Cal making Heaven sound more interesting than Heaven is capable of being was also too much.
- "You can call me daddy" Ha! I bet she can.
- Logan's "sorry that was inappropriate" like everything going on wasn't inappropriate as hell was hilarious. -- "Did he force you?" "It's hard to explain." In Heaven's defense, it is in fact hard as hell to explain, kiddo.
- Was Heaven the inspiration for Twilight's Bella Swan and 50 Shades of Grey's Anastasia Steele?
Which moment was the most inappropriate for you? On a scale of 1-5, how much did you enjoy this movie? Are you tuning in for the rest of the series? Please, hit the comments with your thoughts!
Jasmine Blu is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.