Lately we’ve had a surge of documentaries and films inspired by real life serial killers. And the latest offering is The Haunting of Sharon Tate.
Ted Bundy is a current topic of conversation with Netflix’s Conversations With A Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes and upcoming Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, And Vile starring Zac Efron as the charismatic killer.
The other name not far from our lips is that of Charles Manson with Quentin Tarantino’s imminent Once Upon A Time In Hollywood starring Brad Pitt and Leonardo Di Caprio and the soon to be released The Haunting of Sharon Tate.
This film follows Sharon Tate in the days leading up to the slaughter at 10050 Cielo Drive.
Pregnant with her husband’s child (director Roman Polanski) and awaiting his return from Europe, the young Hollywood actress is plagued by visions of her looming death.
IS ALL THAT WE SEE OR SEEM…
The Haunting of Sharon Tate is an oddity. At once it’s familiar and yet new.
In order to tell a different side to this story (a side that no one will ever really know as it died with the victims), the film focuses on Tate’s “psychic” dreams and premonitions.
A few times I wondered where the plot was going and questioned the avenue it takes.
But then suddenly it makes sense.
I will not reveal and spoil it for you. All I will say is pay attention.
Pay attention to Tate’s words.
Heed Tate’s words.
A DREAM WITHIN A DREAM
The Haunting of Sharon Tate stars Hilary Duff as Sharon Tate.
She comes across as a naïve yet beautiful person, so emanates Tate’s personality perfectly.
The acting by most of the cast can, at times, be a bit stilted.
And it’s definitely Duff’s film as the other characters, including members of The Manson Family, are underexplored.
Some of the special effects look a bit cheap, such as the maggots, but are executed well overall.
I also thought it was unnecessary to have Polanski’s Rosemary’s Baby script on his desk when the film was released the previous year.
However, these are very small factors.
The script by writer and director, Daniel Farrands is well written and, although some artistic license is taken, he’s obviously done his research.
I’m currently reading ‘Helter Skelter’ by Vincent Bugliosi and Curt Gentry, which is an account of the murders and subsequent court cases involving Manson and “The Family”.
It’s a brilliant and difficult read.
I recommend reading it before seeing the film to give you a better insight into these horrifying murders and the victims.
Although having such a thorough knowledge was a drawback as parts of the film aren’t as they happened in real life.
And that bothered me.
So if you think this will also happen to you, I advise you first watch the film.
But if you have read the book, you will know about The Family’s “creepy-crawls”, which sets your heart on edge when Tate is wandering around her house late at night…
It also lends the film a The Strangers-esque quality, which isn’t a bad thing.
LITTLE PIGS, LET US IN
Each frame is ensconced with a murky 60’s feel and the costumes, make up and soundtrack encourage further realism.
Also, real news footage and crime scene photos are included which add authenticity to the 60’s look and feel.
It’s beautifully made with stunning shots overlooking the bright lights of LA.
And The Haunting of Sharon Tate did something to me that horror rarely does effectively.
It unnerved me.
I had genuine chills when you get your brief glimpses of Manson.
And then you hear him sing…
It’s so effective and important that he features so little.
This is Tate’s story. She needs to have your focus.
LIKE A TOOL IN THE HANDS OF THE DEVIL
The home invasion and subsequent murders are included, but I’m pleased to say that they’re not the focus of the film.
And it’s not gratuitous.
Normally, as a horror fan, we yell for more.
But you won’t watching The Haunting of Sharon Tate.
This is real.
This really happened.
Afterwards, I was left haunted and sad and I think that’s a valid reason for you to watch it too.
This beautiful, vivacious, 8-month pregnant woman and her friends were brutalised, tortured and murdered.
And for a motive that is too bizarre to attempt an explanation.
The Haunting of Sharon Tate makes you anxious.
It’s foreboding and genuinely unsettling.
But you should watch it.
Watch this film and remember the victims.
This is their story.
The Haunting of Sharon Tate will be available to watch on Digital Download from Monday 8 April and can be bought here.
By Cat Dunn
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