TV Movie: “If There Be Thorns”

The third time is not the charm. Not even close. It was bound to plague the series at some point. Most film series have at least one film that’s considered bad, when compared to the others, and some have more than one; each one getting progressively worse as the series continues. It’s practically a given for any series.

The A+E Productions film “If There Be Thorns”, continues with characters you’re supposed to like, but fall short of offering anything that makes this film worth it.

This drama stars Heather Graham (“Californication”, “Petals on the Wind”), Rachael Carpani (“Seeds of Yesterday”, “Stalker”), Jason Lewis (“Seeds of Yesterday”, “The After”), Mason Cook (“The Night Shift”, “Legends”), Jedidiah Goodacre (upcoming “Descendants”, “The 100”), Emily Tennant (“Truth & Lies”, “A Novel Romance”), Mackenzie Gray (“The Switch”, “Jaguars”), and Glynis Davies (“Rogue”, “Spooksville”).

The film was directed by Nancy Savoca (“The Tale of Timmy Two Chins (Short 20113)”, “Union Square”) and written by Andy Cochran (“Adult World”, “Restless Virgins”). It is based on the novel of the same name by V.C. Andrews.

The movie originally aired on April 5, 2015 on Lifetime.

Here we are. Another film I waited so long for that turned out to be a rather disappointing experience. I shouldn’t be all that surprised, but I was. I guess I was just hoping, as I hadn’t read it yet, that I could be surprised like I was when watching “Flowers in the Attic”. It was somewhat disturbing to witness, especially from a TV movie. Sadly, this film couldn’t be shocking or even all that interesting.

Here we have, once again, another fine example of meh acting. That’s always the weird thing about watching Lifetime. It’s never terrible acting, but it’s usually never all that great. The acting, however, did yield one slight gem. Cook’s character served to be an antagonist, as did Gray, and a bit Graham.

Cook’s character started off sweet and sort of innocent, as he’s a little kid that’s expected. I think he’s like 12 or something. But, after meeting Graham’s character and Gray’s, he begins to change. He does so more from listening to Gray. He goes from nice kid to complete asshole. Gray, for reason’s I don’t completely get or buy, basically persuaded this kid that his family was bad and full of liars, which yes, is true. However, I just had a hard time believing this kid, in a seemingly short amount of time, could change his mannerisms and way of speaking based off of one person’s beliefs (religious ones, of course) and an ancient journal, also full of strict religious beliefs. As this was pretty much what drove the entire film, it got old really fast.

Gray’s inclusion didn’t help much, even though Graham’s character tried to explain who he was to the family. He was just this creepy butler that didn’t seem to do much serving. He always had his own agenda and somehow most of it seemed to go unnoticed by Graham.

Speaking of Graham, she was actually not that bad. Sure you probably still hate her, like her kids did, but she was actually trying to be a bit of a nice person. The story was seriously trying to make her a redeemed character, and it almost worked. The biggest issue I took with her, is that she was supposed to be this aged and older woman. After all her kids are adults now. However, the makeup just didn’t go far enough and shattered that particular illusion.

The rest of the story, which seemed to drag at bits and had too many moments that I could care less about, involved the family life. Carpani and Lewis with their kids. It was normal life, which is fine as you need to pretend there’s a reason for us to care about them. However, what ruined this is that they spend the entire time trying to protect their secret from their kids and everyone else, as if this hadn’t been what they were doing for many years. The problem is that they’ve managed to succeed in this area for so long, why worry now? Things do start to get weird when Graham shows up, but even then it takes some time for that to reach Carpani and Lewis. Then, when their kid is going really bonkers, and secrets start to come out in a non-dramatic fashion, and the youngest kid flat out mentions that he knows the secret, they still never put it together. Only one other person knows the secret (which they know this), and yet they still can’t put all the pieces together. Another thing I don’t buy.

Some adaptations you get excited for. Then you see the adaptation and wish it had never come to be. While this will never serve as a reason to not just rush the production of a film, it can certainly be a reason to tread carefully when deciding if you want to watch this. I’m sure I could’ve figured something better to do with my two hours I lost. Maybe the next Lifetime movie won’t disappoint.


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