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

at .  Updated at .

What is this madness?

I didn't anticipate Dark Angel, the second installment of Lifetime's adaptation of the Casteel series, being more effed up than the first, but here we are.

Please, someone, tell me, what is the obsession with inappropriate, pedophilic relationships and incest? It's like you know the incest is coming, but will you ever be prepared for it when it arrives? Heaven's no!

A New Life - Dark Angel

We have two under our belt, but aren't there three more stories left in the Casteel Family series?

Where else can they possibly go after this? Do I want to know?

The sentiment of "what the actual f**k" has intensified to a "WHAT THE ACTUAL F**K?"

Related: V.C. Andrews' Heaven Review: Twisted, Wildly Innappropriate, and Sheer WTF-ery?! 

And if you have been partaking in moonshine, you might need something harder and more refined.

To my understanding, this rendition of Dark Angel wasn't as crazy as the book; the book must be off the charts!

Heaven's Arrival - Dark Angel

Heaven Leigh Casteel VanVoreen Tatterton's life is a disaster. The girl has lived in her short 17-18 years, and it's too bad Cal wasn't around to write a book on her behalf.

After leaving a trail of dead bodies, miserable family members, and two lovers behind her, she headed to Farthingale Manor to meet her wealthy, maternal grandmother who randomly expressed interest in meeting her.

Related: Pearson Season 1 Episode 3 Review: The Union Leader

Somewhere between the bus ride to Boston and meeting Grandpa Daddy dearest, she discovered a bottle of hair conditioner and natural-looking makeup.

Tony: Leigh's hair was different.

Heaven:  It's just funny hearing you call her Leigh because back home everyone calls her Angel.

Tony: Angel? Hm. 

I believe this was a foreshadowing of the glo-up in store for Heaven as she graduated from drab, milquetoast hillbilly to drab, milquetoast socialite with prettier hair.

Tony Tatterton - Dark Angel

While we're on the topic of hair, Grandpa Daddy Tony jumped into fondling Heaven's luxurious red locks and comparing them to Leigh. I'm assuming it was an acknowledgment of Heaven going from a brunette to a redhead in this.

Grandpa Daddy Tony was a world-class creep from the second they introduced him, and I have never been this turned off by Jason Priestley; it's conflicting. Kudos to him for nailing the role, but also, ew!

We knew how the VanVoreen-Tatterton household felt about Angel based on Tony's reaction to Leigh's nickname. When someone snorts upon finding out your nickname is "Angel," it implies you were far from angelic.

Heaven and Hell - Dark Angel

It's like when someone says their child is the best and most well-behaved in the world, but you watched them destroy an entire aisle at the grocery store. I beg to differ, my dear.

Related: Good Trouble Season 2 Episode 7 Review: In the Middle

Angel is dead and can't defend herself, but 60 seconds spent with Tony and Jillian was enough to know Angel was the victim in the family.

I'm Team Angel unless we find out she too diddled with someone underaged, or screwed her long-lost father-brother or something else scandalous and soap-operatic.

Jillian Vanvoreen - Dark Angel - Tall

Anything is possible in this world.

Heaven's grandmother was awful. There is an unfortunate pattern where all the emphasis is on Heaven and a cacophony of trifling or boring men, and the female characters fall to the wayside.

Jillian: Tony, don't touch her! She must be so very, very dirty. You don't want to get any of that backwoods grime on that suit of yours. 

For all of this emphasis on Heaven meeting her grandmother and learning more about her mother, she once again got sidetracked by penis. It can happen to the best of folks, and of course, folks like Heaven.

Judgy Jillian - Dark Angel  - Tall

So far, the only things she learned about her mother was who was responsible for knocking her up and that they come from a long line of irresistible sirens who have men fawning all over them.

Everyone was lowkey in love with Leigh, and she must have passed this gene down because Heaven waltzed into the manor basking in mediocrity and appealing to both Tatterton men and some randos at the formal dance.

Am I missing something? What was it about Heaven that made the men fall for her and the women despise her?

Heaven: Why? Why doesn't my own grandmother want me?!

Also, why are the women in this series one-dimensional? The only decent female character in this movie was Heaven's blink and miss friend at school who never had a name  (*she was named Sarah, as in the same name as Heaven's stepmother because, why not, I guess?) and disappeared.

Heaven's Friend - Dark Angel

Jillian was another embittered woman who resented Heaven's beauty. When she wasn't making snide comments about Heaven's birthplace she (along with Tony) damn near dropped a mixtape titled "yo momma was a ho," and the remix "you are too."

Related: How Good Trouble Mastered the Slow-Burn 'Ship

Who implies that their underaged daughter is a wanton woman who seduced her stepfather? Why isn't a single man held accountable for their sexual abuse?

There is no shade like grandmother shade, and Jillian's introduction to Heaven was an indirect statement about her being hillbilly trash. The disrespect of hillbillies in this series is insane. I'm sorry; you guys deserve better.

Ice Queen - Dark Angel

For some reason, Jillian invited Heaven to visit to treat her like crap, and Heaven assumed she was going to live with them.

I don't know how you accidentally mistake a short visit with an extended stay, but it must have been a miscommunication on Jillian's part since as we know, Heaven is the smartest!

She's smart, but her self-worth was in the toilet. She damn near got on her knees pleading to stay in the home of a woman who detested her. It will be a cold day in hell before I would beg, let alone make a deal with the devil.

Not Outta the Woods - Dark Angel -Tall

Tony's statement about obedience sounded sexual, and while I understand Heaven is meant to be a naive teenager, I'm still side-eyeing her for possibly agreeing to sexual favors for a shot at living the high-life.

Related: iZombie Series Finale Review: All's Well that Ends Well

After her experiences with Luke, Kitty, and Cal, you cannot say the girl can't read between the lines while still trying to impress us with her brilliance.

She was also dumb enough to lie about her age and background to Tony as if he didn't have a buttload of money from his creepy doll empire to hire an investigator.

New Look, New Heaven - Tall

Heaven saw an opportunity to avoid homelessness and achieve her goal of going to college. In hindsight, maybe choosing a life with the other pedophile wouldn't have been that bad, but at least she was getting a degree out of this if she followed the rules and kept her head down.

Heaven, of course, did neither of these things.

It's fascinating and unsettling how Heaven is a victim but also an agitating person who dives vagina first into trouble. I don't understand it.

Troy: A little late for a friendly visit. You sure it's alright?

Heaven: I won't tell if you won't. 

There is no doubt on many occasions she is a victim, and I feel terrible for her. The thing is, Heaven also makes poor, questionable decisions too.

Regrets - Dark Angel

It's as if the narrative likes to go back and forth between Heaven being a victim with no agency and an idiot with some. It's hard to decipher the message here. Whatever it is, it's cringeworthy.

If there is a man she shouldn't f**k within a 5-mile radius, Heaven will find him. Her hoo-ha is a beacon for problematic men.

Is there fairy dust in it? Does she have a Sookie Stackhouse vajayjay? Make it make sense!

Troy - Dark Angel

Heaven easily could have listened to creepy Grandpa Daddy and not gone frolicking in the maze, but anytime someone says "Heaven, don't" she does the opposite.

Heaven stumbling upon Troy in the cabin -- who dressed like he raided the wardrobe closet at a theater production -- was an inevitability.

Tony: You seem flushed and out of breath.

Heaven: Well, it was an intense walk, and you startled me.

Two things are annoying: there are weird time jumps that make it difficult to follow how much time has passed, and the relationships go from zero to 100.

New Beau? - Tall

Somewhere along the way, Heaven and Troy developed a not at all troubling, secret "friendship."

She was also bullied by a stereotypical bitchy, blonde ringleader who did stupid things like let the entire gym know she dosed Heaven (that's dumb) and didn't move out the way while Heaven puked on her (also dumb. Blondie was a terrible bully).

Related: Fanatic Feed: How to Win A Guy in Ten Days Reboot

Oh, and she bumped into Logan who conveniently was attending college in Boston too. The Logan thing was weird, especially when she told him she didn't want to see him again when he didn't know she was there in the first place.

Co-Ed Logan - Dark Angel

Heaven is mostly underaged, so no matter what she does, it's up to the adult male to not make moves. Nevertheless, it was irritating that she approached Troy and seduced him. What are we doing here?

It's alarming how everyone casually speaks of the Casteel/VanVoreen women as if they're the reason they ended up in inappropriate relationships, but why counter every problematic, sexist statement about Leigh, Heaven, or Fanny by having Heaven seduce an older guy?

Fanny's Hard Time - Dark Angel

Troy didn't even put up a fight, unless you count his weak "I can't," before he slipped her the D. It was also sketchy how Troy acknowledged Cal sexually abused Heaven.

Then, he said, "hold my paintbrush."

It should have been suspicious when Tony warned Heaven off Troy one minute, but then introduced them the night before leaving them alone for weeks.

I suppose it was nice that Tony showed up at his teenage girlfriend's graduation with the household staff. 

Prom Pose - Dark Angel - Tall

And who doesn't like a guy to tell you why you two can't be together and about how dark, twisted and depressed he is after banging the ever-loving hell out of you for weeks?

Troy: It's time you learned the truth about me, Heaven. The truth about why we can't be together. Ever since I've been a boy, I have been haunted by a darkness. It haunts me every minute of every day. 

Heaven: No, that's not true. We have so much fun together!

Troy: I know, but it's still there deep inside me. Every night I dream of my own death. Perhaps this should run its course before you get in too deep. I don't want you to be hurt. 

Heaven: No, that's nonsense. You were depressed when you were little, and that's OK. But we can change your dreams, Troy, so no more talk of darkness, OK?

Heaven didn't mind any of this. In her young and naive mind, they could sex the depression and suicidal thoughts away!

Forbidden Kisses Again - Dark Angel

Oh, and they could get married.

Heaven was in a college town filled to the brim with age-appropriate boys ready to settle down with their starter wife.

Related: Lifetime's Family Pictures Review: Double the Families and Double the Fun

But nope! She gets engaged to an older, emotionally unstable man who dresses like he's at a renaissance fair and lives in a cabin behind a maze surrounded by creepy dolls.

Her man-picker is broken!

The Doll Maker - Dark Angel - Tall

Troy was already a horrible choice long before we found out he was her uncle.

All of her suitors have been a mess; two adopted fathers lusted after her, one she had sex with, her grandpa/daddy admitted he wanted her first, and she got engaged to her uncle.

Related: Lifetime's Tempting Fate Review: Mistakes Were Made! 

Logan is the most normal guy she's ever been around, and he deserves better than this mess.

Young Love - Dark Angel

What the hell is this?

Heaven wasn't nearly as distraught as she should have been when she found out that Tony orchestrated her relationship with Troy, nor did she flip out as much as she should that Tony wanted her for himself at first.

Related: Lifetime's To Have and Hold Review: Throw the Whole Joe Away!

I'm sorry, what? Also, why didn't she figure that out from his predatorial grooming?

Tony: I must admit when I first laid eyes on you, I wished I could have you for myself. Of course that was impossible. 

Heaven: What? Wait, why would you even say that or even think that?

Tony: Take that as a compliment, young lady. I held you in such high regard that I asked myself, who could have her? Who could be good enough for her? Of course, my brother! Of course I decided to make a relationship between you two taboo and let nature take its course.

But the real moment of physically throw something at the screen f**kery was Heaven finding out Tony raped her mother and fathered her and still choosing to have sex with her suicidal uncle anyway!

Tragedy and Comfort - Dark Angel

These are the types of things she does that makes her unsympathetic. You don't care, Heaven?! Incest doesn't squick you out because of love?

I don't know how Tony, Jillian, or Heaven thought someone as fragile as Troy could survive the love of his life bailing on him or finding out the love of his life was his niece.

No matter how it was said or done, his permanent skinny-dip in the sea was going to happen.

Tony: You want to know the real reason why you can't marry my brother? The real reason your mother ran away from us? The real reason your mother got married while pregnant? The real reason Luke Casteel has hated you your whole life? Because he's not your father! I am!

For all of the talk of hillbilly trash and backwood incest, the majority of the trashy, incestual, and troubling behavior has come from all the so-called classy people.

Twisted Reality - Dark Angel - Tall

Heaven's relationship with Grandpa Daddy Tony has to be the weirdest one of the series so far.

The man spewed every excuse in the book to justify raping his stepdaughter. He insinuated she was a whore who used her feminine wiles to manipulate men and claimed he was but a man (something Jillian and the Reverend also said while excusing sexual assault and pedophilia). He said she wanted it, which made my skin crawl.

Heaven: You both are horrible, demented people. No wonder my mother ran away from here!

Heaven's outrage was lacking. She still benefited from her ties to him and the Tattertons. He paid for her college.

A New Life - Dark Angel

She would have stuck around if Troy hadn't killed himself. And Tony, somehow he thought they could shift from him being the creepy, predatorial step-grandfather who admitted he wanted to have sex with her to her doting dad.

Related: 27 of the Most Stone-Cold Bitches on TV 

In what universe is this normal?

It's the same universe where after a four-year time-jump Heaven with a straight damn face says she wants to go back to Winnerrow to become a teacher like the entire town shouldn't be set on fire and burned off the map.

Welcome Home Wagon

God knows it didn't go well the last time she went back there and attempted to purchase her niece from the child molesting reverend to give back to her trainwreck sister. She also visited Luke and his new family at the circus he runs.

Luke Casteel is an actual ringleader of a freaking circus and deluded himself into thinking they ever had happy times. This entire damn series is a circus.

Circus Freaks - tall

Additional WTF Moments:

  • I understand Fanny went off the deep end and went from "hillbilly trash" to "trailer trash," but why did Heaven leave her niece with a known pedophile?
  • What was the point of the weird dream sequence and fever after a concussion situation that Heaven was in when she thought she was torn between Logan and Troy?
  • Why the hell is Logan in love with Heaven? She spent more time with both Cal and Troy than she did Logan. Their love isn't believable. When did it happen?
  • Logan talked about all the time they spent together, but we never saw it. He said losing her was his biggest mistake. Oh, my sweet summer child, you dodged a bullet, baby.
  • Does everyone on this series get off on a 10-year age gap or more between lovers?
  • If Heaven kept in touch with Tom, why didn't she write to Fanny? And if Tom knew where all their siblings were, then why didn't he tell Heaven?
  • Heaven just gave up on finding her younger siblings or visiting?
  • "You seem flushed and out of breath." "It was an intense walk." Yeah, sure. It was the walk that did it. God, her lying was almost as horrible as some of this dialogue.
  • Is there a reason why the Casteels resort to selling their children? Why does everyone treat this like it's normal?

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

Does Heaven have the worst luck with men ever? Why does Logan love her at all? Would you go back to that town to teach? What would you rate this movie?

I'm off to take a bath, no, strike that, a shower while I process this incest, but please, hit the comments with your thoughts!


Editor Rating: 2.9 / 5.0
  • 2.9 / 5.0
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Jasmine Blu is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. She is an insomniac who spends late nights and early mornings binge-watching way too many shows and binge-drinking way too much tea. Her eclectic taste makes her an unpredictable viewer with an appreciation for complex characters, diverse representation, dynamic duos, compelling stories, and guilty pleasures. You'll definitely find her obsessively live-tweeting, waxing poetic, and chatting up fellow Fanatics and readers. Follow her on X.

Show Comments
Tags: , , ,

Lifetime Quotes

Mrs. Thompson: When someone violates you, it's never your fault.
Robin: I should have done something.
Mrs. Thompson: You did. You survived.

It's one of the great mysteries of life. You never know quite what's going to happen next.