V.C. Andrews' Web of Dreams Review: Brave Angel, Histrionics, & Bittersweet Tragedies!

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It's the end of the road. 

The V.C. Andrews Casteel Family drama comes to a close with Web of Dreams, the final installment of the series. 

The latest addition took us back to the beginning to meet the woman at the heart of the VanVoreen Casteel Tatterton Stonewall family tree of snarled limbs and dark leaves. 

Jennifer Laporte as Leigh VanVoreen

It was actually good. After our exclusive interview with Jennifer Laporte, it seemed as though Web of Dreams would have a different tone from the others. 

Finally, we met and followed Leigh VanVoreen Casteel's journey from a young daddy's girl with her whole life ahead of her to a young woman who beat odds and met a bittersweet end. 

Related: Jennifer Laporte On Her Role as The Casteel Series' Leigh VanVoreen on Web of Dreams!

It's what we were waiting for after Heaven and Annie got too sidetracked to delve into Leigh's history. The great news is no one was penis obsessed. It was shocking! 

Leigh Clutches her Ribbon

Annie, bless her heart, redeemed herself a smidge. Luke Stonewall's magical penis must have done her body and mind some good. 

Now that her thirst was quenched by her not-brother, she took the time to learn more about her grandmother. It took long enough! 

After everything we learned about Leigh, she was more than deserving of some respect put on her name.

Grown Annie

Annie and name-brand Luke brought all of their happily domestic energy to the Tattorton House of Horrors so Annie could say goodbye to the father she didn't bother to get to know. 

R.I.P. Troy. Again.

Related: V.C. Andrews' Gates of Paradise Review: Annie and the Horny House of Horrors!

He's dead for real this time. We never saw the body (he probably didn't look a day over 40, still), but it's a safe bet he kicked the bucket and got buried next to his pedophilic brother since happiness always eluded him even in the afterlife.

Cabin Dweller - Tall

Then again he could be buried next to Heaven. Maybe she's awkwardly buried between her husband and her uncle-fiance. #Goals

Dear heavens, on all sides, this family is marred by loss and tragedy. It's heartbreaking when you think about it for too long. 

The nature of Troy's death is unclear, but it's terrible to think he spent his entire life trapped at the mansion never living his life and finding true happiness. 

The happiest he was during his life was when he spent time with Leigh (who parented him more than Jillian and Tony combined) and when he and Heaven fell in love. 

Leigh and Troy in the Maze

He likely spent his final days at the cabin, and beyond confirming she wasn't related to her brother, it doesn't appear as if Annie ever showed interest in forming a relationship with her birth father. 

Now that Troy is dead, what does that mean for the Tatterton Toy company and Farthinggale? With all the terrible things that took place in that mansion, wouldn't you want to be done with it completely? 

Related: V.C. Andrews' Fallen Hearts Review: Lions, and Baby Daddies, & Affairs, Oh My!

Maybe Annie will sell it or turn it into something meaningful like a house for abused women. God knows there was a hell of a lot of abuse that took place under that roof. 

Leigh VanVoreen and Tony Tatterton

Rye Whiskey made do with his single minute of screentime by giving Annie her grandmother's diary. For some reason, Troy kept it after all those years. It's already disturbing how Luke Casteel sent it to Tony after Leigh died. 

Did he keep it in his weird serial killer-esque treasure chest of trinkets dedicated to Leigh and Heaven? He was obsessed with Leigh, but he didn't mind keeping a diary that outlined how he raped her? 

Anyhow, Annie was able to push past her traumatic memories of her time spent held captive at Farthinggale, and she spent time reading through Leigh's story. 

Young Tony Tatterton

Of all the stories connected to this series, Leigh's was the most normal. She was a simple young girl who loved her father to pieces and grew up with a comfortable amount of privilege. 

V.C. Andrews' Dark Angel Review: Incest, Mediocrity, & Magical Hoo-ha's! 

Her father may not have been her biological father, but he adored her. He was a decent man who did the best he could for his family, but it wasn't enough for Jillian. 

Jillian: Crew ships are not lady-like, and in your case, barely profitable.

Cleave: Not for some.

He had a progressive view despite the time period. He encouraged Leigh to dream of doing whatever she wanted to do. She could've shown interest in the cruise business he built from scratch, or she could've gone off to college and pursued her passion or found a career. 

Daddy Dear

In his mind, the world was Leigh's oyster, and it was something special witnessing a man encourage his daughter to be a fully-realized, fulfilled woman. 

Justice for Cleave. He deserved better.

Leigh was happy. Her mother was nuttier than a fruitcake on Christmas Eve, but outside of her having to reassure the woman every five seconds that she was beautiful, her childhood was stable. 

Leigh with Her Mother Jillian

It makes her end and the ripple effect of her death on so many people all the more tragic. Maybe things wouldn't have turned out the same if she had never met Tony Tatterton. 

Related: V.C. Andrews' Heaven Review: Twisted, Wildly Inappropriate, & Sheer WTF-ery! 

The casting for this film was some of the strongest yet, but you guys, Max Lloyd-Jones was the best. Listen, Jason Priestley brought a special something to the creeptastic Tony Tatterton, and damn if Jones didn't pull from that with his performance. 

Young Tony was hot with those piercing eyes and Scott Foley lips, even though he and some of the other guys started looking alike after a while, but for once, the ages seemed right. 

Smarmy Tony - Tall

Although the actor is pushing 30, he has the type of baby face that makes it easy for him to play much younger including teenagers, so unlike adult Jillian and Tony, the age difference between their younger versions was more pronounced. 

He was the perfect man-child millionaire. It appealed to Jillian, but she had no business pursuing him. 

Grandma: I trust him. He has those Dean Martin eyes.

The affair between Jillian and Tony was odd. He was a wealthy playboy type; did he need to marry Jillian? What did he see in her? 

Keeping Up with the Tattertons - Tall

He mentioned her vanity and how obsessed she was with her beauty and appearance later on, but she was always like that. It never felt like there was passion or love there. 

But who takes their teenage daughter to their lover's house and screws him while she's there? Tony didn't give a damn whether or not Leigh noticed, but Jillian thought she could get away with telling Leigh she didn't see what she saw. 

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Leigh wasn't seven-years-old walking in on her parents "wrestling" in bed. She walked in on her mother getting zipped up and kissed down by a guy who was probably playing with Tonka trucks or whatever equivalent a couple of years before. 

Uppity Jillian - Tall

Jillian was a sad woman. She, like many of the others in this series, could be diagnosed with any number of personality disorders, but it's evident her childhood experiences screwed her up, and she never recovered. 

Mom of the Year's idea of giving her daughter a coming of age talk included going on about her horrible experience as a child. Did Jillian experience half of what she said, or did she read Cinderella so many times she thought the story was her own? 

Jillian: Because, Leigh, women never get to really have their own lives. They must be accessories to the lives of men

Leigh: We do?

Jillian: Oh yes. And now that you're older, I must teach you. If you have nice hair, heels, and expensive clothes, and your natural beauty, you can have any man you want

Leigh: Someone like Papa?

Jillian: Set your sights higher, and by higher, I mean richer. True wealth

The similarities were uncanny, but it's doubtful Cinderella ended up a drunken mess and someone who ended her life. 

Jealous Mom - Tall

Jillian had a warped and oppressive outlook on womanhood. She felt women were accessories and pretty things for men. She felt their purpose was to be arm candy. 

She thought beauty, the right clothes, and an understanding of how to wield femininity like a gosh damn sword would be enough to bag any man, preferably men with money, and conquering men via those means was how to take on the world. 

Jillian: Are you warm now? Do you like sitting there naked with a man. My man?  Just like your momma? That little stunt out there you don't think I see it?

Leigh: I'm confused. We were playing and --

Jillian: Tony is mine. He's marrying me.

Leigh: Of course he's marrying you, mother. Are you OK?

In hindsight, it should've been a tip-off that Jillian was game for pimping out her daughter. She told Leigh to strive for someone better -- wealthier-- than her father, but if Jillian aspired for more herself, she could've been a madame running a brothel. 

Jillian's Vanity - Tall

Secure a bag of your own and put that troublesome viewpoint to better use, woman! Then again, she would've managed to get in her own way. She DID get in her own way! 

A difficult childhood riddled with abuse and trauma and a personality disorder wouldn't let Jillian be great. 

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Initially, it didn't make sense for Jillian, who lost half of the ten marbles left in her head anytime someone or something reminded her of her age, to keep Leigh when she divorced Cleave. 

She didn't give a single damn about Leigh in any capacity, and she could've got a fresh start without her. The woman was the embodiment of "f*ck them kids".

Unhappy Couple - Tall

She couldn't have been more callous if she tried. It was ridiculous that she would move her younger, beautiful teen daughter into the Tatterton home when Leigh could've lived with the man who raised her. 

As batshit crazy as Jillian was, she knew Tony had an affinity for Leigh, and the only way she was staying around was if Leigh did. It was like they were a package deal, and Leigh had no idea she was a bargaining chip. 

Tony: How you've developed these past few weeks, your style that is, like a movie star. Before, you seemed to be just a child.

Jillian felt as though she groomed Leigh to be exactly like her, and then saw her as an opponent and competitor rather than her daughter. She couldn't see Tony as a predator; she only saw Leigh as her competition. 

The VanVoreen Family

She damn near told Leigh to not pursue her stepfather as if Leigh was actively doing that. Direct your feminine wiles toward someone else, darling. He's mine!

Yeah, um, Jillian, what?! 

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In her twisted mind, she thought Leigh was pretending to be vulnerable and, you know, an underaged girl expecting the adults around her would behave like grown-ups, when her real intentions were to entice Tony and steal him away from her mother. 

The woman needed medication, and this entire family could be used to teach an Abnormal Psychology 101 course. 

Another Doll

So Tony hasn't gone a day in his life without being a creep, huh? The man was vile, but again, Max Lloyd-Jones played the hell out of the role. That's how you do it, people. 

In every installment, at least one actor is working their performance like it's going on their Emmy reel, and I'm not even mad about it. 

Related: New Amsterdam Season 2 Teaser: Which of Max's Angels Will Die? 

Obviously, it isn't, but I respect the effort.

He and LaPorte were killing it. Every interaction between them was enough to make your skin crawl. He was such an incredible leerer.

Creepy Stepfather

Tony slipped in many inappropriate and/or indirect comments about Leigh's beauty and how fond he was of her. He preyed on her whenever they were in a room together. 

The bath scene was appropriately cringe-worthy. The man licked his lips when he said she was beautiful inside and out, and the suggestive nature of it was too much to bear. 

Tony: You're perfect. Your skin, your hair --  flawless. Beautiful, inside and out.

What is the obsession with baths and bathing people? Is it meant to be representative of these people thinking they can wash away their demons and secrets? Do they think a bath removes the impure thoughts and their eccentricities? 

Baby Troy and Leigh - Tall

Cleaning sullied bodies doesn't cleanse sullied minds.

Tony's grooming of Leigh was so calculated. He never bats an eye when Jillian walked in on the moment. 

He didn't blink when Leigh threatened to tell her mother he wanted her to pose nude for a doll. He was never concerned about Jillian's reaction to Leigh's rape.

Tony: I'm not a bad person, Leigh, OK? This is just part of the craft.

He knew the power he had over Jillian and the hold her disturbed mind had on her too.

Tony's Muse - Tall

It was sickening that Tony made Leigh pose nude. He shamed her into doing it, presenting it as something empowering and liberating. Since when does someone have to pose naked for a doll?

Since when are dolls anatomically correct? Leigh was right; the original Angel doll was profane. She had the body of a damn coke bottle. 

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He gave the doll a Kardashian ass, and then threw a Tony tantrum when she didn't like it. The longer Leigh remained in that house, the worse it got. She should have jumped on any opportunity to get out of there.

Tony: I wanted to apologize. I know I overreacted, but it's because I care about you so much. I see you with a boy like that, and I get so incensed. I feel like somebody is going to take you away from me.

Jillian threatened to send her to boarding school in Switzerland at one point, and she would have done better taking that offer. 

Oh, You're Not Gillian

Nuns aren't that scary in comparison. God's women would have been a breeze compared to Satan's spawn.

She should have taken her grandmother's offer sooner too. It's likely Tony paid Granny off. Her comment about Tony protecting Leigh from Jillian as if she didn't need someone to protect her from Tony was too generous of a statement for someone Granny barely knew.

Tony's doll tantrum was nothing compared to the territorial hissy fit he threw when Leigh almost kissed a boy for the first time at her party. 

Young Troy - Tall

As feared, it was a turning point in his obsession with her. Up until then, he took small steps and was properly creepy. 

He compared her to her mother and loved that Leigh was more maternal with Troy than Jillian.

But another (age-appropriate) young man showing interest made him want to stake his claim first. 

They didn't have to show anything, but the moments leading up to the rape and the close up of the dolls were horrifying nonetheless.

Tony - Tall

There was no safe place for Leigh at Tatterton manor, and while her love for Troy was strong, there was nothing there to help her through that atrocity.

Her mother didn't care and claimed she wished she had aborted her, and Tony was on his way back. 

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Leigh was brave, strong, and smart. She got the hell out of there and didn't look back. 

Jillian: How long have you been keeping this from me? No, no, this isnt going to happen!  You understand me? I will not be a grandmother! I will not let you do this to me.

Leigh: I didn't do anything! I told you it was him. He raped me! 

Jillian: No. It was you. You seduced him. We're going to a special doctor tomorrow to do what I should've done when I was pregnant with you.

Words cannot describe how surprising young Luke Casteel was. He was a sweet man once upon a time. He was kind and gentle. 

Young Luke Casteel - Tall

Leigh and Luke had the shortest love story of them all, but it was the sweetest and most authentic.

The Carney life wasn't abrupt, but rather part of his roots.

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And Tom was reminiscent of Luke Casteel in his youth. So was Luke Stonewall, who appeared to check on Annie just as Leigh's happy final moments with Luke came to an end. It was a perfect endcap. 

Luke: Please don't judge.

Annie: I wouldn't. Is it yours?

Luke: I feel like that's unimportant, Ma.

Annie: OK, then I feel the same.

Luke didn't need to know the full extent of Leigh's story or who fathered her child; he loved her.

Leigh and Luke

Damn that young Luke! It's near impossible to poke fun at him. He was genuinely sweet, and his family embraced Leigh as their own.

When you figure she barely spent a year with them before she died --only a little over half a year, her story is so gosh damn tragic. It was heartbreaking.

Luke: What part of heaven did you drop out of, Leigh?

They saved the best for last. The acting in Web of Dreams was understated. It was more solemn and less unintentionally funny. It wasn't over the top.

Did the same people create this movie? 

Strong Leigh - Tall

Leigh was the best of them all. It's a shame the rest of her family tree was so wacky and f**ked up. 

The moral of the story is emotional baggage will be the death of you and those close to you, sometimes literally. A halfway decent therapist can go a long way. Rich people can get away with a lot. Only the good die young. 

Related: 19 Underappreciated Leading Ladies! 

There are others, but that sums it up. 

It was an endless cycle of hurt people hurting other people, and I thought my family was bad. At least there was no incest. There had to be lines drawn somewhere.

web of dreams

Additional Notes: 

  • Tiny Tony Tatterton was so small, young, and creepy.
  • No wonder Troy never left the premises. That battle with pneumonia nearly cost him his life, and the only stable person in the house left while he was sleeping.
  • Tony was a raging narcissist obsessed with Leigh and Heaven, but he had moments where it seemed his concern for his brother was genuine. 
  • Annie got her art skills from Jillian. 
  • If Jillian drew that creepy ass mural on my wall I would've committed her.
  • Due to the restraining order and her father not having rights, he just never talked to Leigh again? That sucks. What is with men starting new families like it's nothing?  
  •  Feeding Jillian's ego is exhausting, and the worst thing for everyone was Jillian having a daughter. If she had a son, their relationship would probably have been oedipal 
  • Troy was so pure and adorable. That poor child never stood a chance. 
  • Praise be! They showed the southern charm and hillbilly sweetness. Luke picked up a stray like it was nothing. 
  • Leigh died before the house was made. Her final moments were sad, especially knowing everything her death set in motion.

Related: Get Great Selection of New & Classic Movies with the Lifetime Movie Club via Prime Video Channels!:

Well, we did it. We made it through all five of these movies! 

It's worth a celebration. Thanks for joining us on this rollercoaster ride of wtf-ery. You guys made reviewing the series fun.

Feel free to hit the comments below!

Review

Editor Rating: 3.5 / 5.0
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Jasmine Blu is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.

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