It seems that with his recent death, Charles Manson has come back into vogue among purveyors of the horrific aspects of the human psyche. I for one never got the fascination as he was nothing more than a psychopathic racist who used drugs and easily influenced youth to do his murderous bidding. Sure it’s interesting when you think about the fact that the Manson family murders were a turning point in the insular world of Hollywood and the way the outside world pictured it.
Since Quentin Tarantino is apparently going to tackle that aspect surrounding the Manson murders, it leaves the door wide open for someone to exploit the horrendous crimes in a much more gauche way. Enter murder porn extraordinaire Daniel Farrands, he’s here to show us that bad almost snuff level movies can still get made. We’re all worse off because of that.
The Haunting of Sharon Tate
Director: Daniel Farrands
Release Date: April 5, 2019 (VOD)
The Haunting of Sharon Tate stars Hilary Duff as the titular Sharon Tate in the final days before her untimely death. The movie introduces the question asking “what would Sharon Tate do if she knew she was going to die?” How does she know this? She has seen her death in her dreams for a year leading up to the fateful morning of August 9th, 1969.
To say that Duff’s acting was flat would be an insult to planks of wood everywhere. Her dialogue sounded like it was being read off cue cards for the first time, and I don’t know if it’s her fault or a directing decision. The fact that almost every other character is stiff and lifeless points to Farrands as the culprit but I’m not keen to let any of the cast off the hook on this one.
The cast is filled out with the victims and perpetrators of the murders and that’s it. Jay Sebring (Jonathan Bennett) is Tate’s former lover and now current caretaker while her husband Roman Polanski is in Europe finishing a movie. Sebring and Tate arrive at the Tate home and find that Abigal (Lydia Hurst) and Wojciech (Pawel Szajda) whom they left to watch the house while Tate was briefly accompanying Polanski in Europe have made the house their own.
The Manson family are all shadowy evil characters with zero explanation as to why they are the way they are. With a run time of less than an hour and forty minutes, you would think there was some time for some exposition, but in an exploitative cash-grab such as this why even attempt to put in an effort?
A boring, flat, and unbelievable personal drama between Tate and her house-sitters fill the first 2/3 of this movie with small vignettes of Tate’s murderous dreams peppered in-between. Farrands attempts to add some tension to the murder dreams by switching up tiny details each time. You would think this would keep people on their toes, but all it does is feel like Farrands read the Wikipedia entry for the Tate murders and put some small spins on it.
The actual murder scenes are intense and bloody but without substance, it just feels like gore for the sake of gore and when you’re dealing with a real-life murder, there needs to be some kind of nuance. Otherwise, you’re just glorifying murder, which this is. The movie does try to put a unique take on the murders at the end but like everything else in the movie, it’s barely explored and instead just dumped in your lap like a box of broken pieces that you need to put back together.
Technically there’s also some issues where certain scenes sound horrible, like they recorded scenes without microphones then dubbed over them in post. I can’t confirm whether this was what happened but something is amiss with the audio in this movie and I can’t quite put my finger on it. All I know is that it’s bad.
In the age of video on demand, there’s a little more leniency for what can get made and what you could potentially spend your time and/or money on for entertainment. Even when working with these lowered bars of quality, I wouldn’t recommend The Haunting of Sharon Tate to even my worst enemy. I don’t even know how it got made. It’s shallow, lifeless, boring, and worst of all, exploitative of real-life tragedy with no regard for the subject matter. I guess I shouldn’t expect much from the maker of The Amityville Murders, and nor shall I when he releases The Murder of Nicole Brown Simpson later this year.