21st Mar2019

‘The Haunting of Sharon Tate’ VOD Review

by Alain Elliott

Stars: Hilary Duff, Jonathan Bennett, Lydia Hearst, Pawel Szajda, Ryan Cargill, Bella Popa, Fivel Stewart, Tyler Johnson, Ben Mellish | Written and Directed by Daniel Farrands

haunting-sharon-tate-poster

Not until I did some research, after viewing The Haunting of Sharon Tate, did I realise that 2019 would be the 50th “anniversary’”year of the Tate Murders – a mass murder conducted by members of the Manson family. And this fact is the reason there are several movies this year that feature Charles Manson; including Charlie Says starring Matt Smith as the man and most famously, Quentin Tarantino’s latest movie Once Upon A Time In Hollywood, which will apparently feature Manson in the story.

Also, before watching this movie, I thought it was a bit strange to feature the controversial real life director Roman Polanski and his wife as characters until I realised that this is based on a very true story!

Obviously set in the late 1960’s, this movie feels slightly strange because it seems to have been made to also look like it was made in that time period as well. It gives it a different feel to many modern films. It’s not a bad choice at all, with the kind of muted colours and obviously the fashion. You don’t see many horror movies made now that are set in the sixties.

The Haunting of Sharon Tate got some press for its casting of Hilary Duff as Sharon Tate. Duff isn’t exactly inexperienced when it comes to acting but is best known for her teen movies, Lizzie McGuire and her singing. That said, Duff does fine here. She only really suffers when the writing lets her down and this is the same for much of the cast. At times the dialogue is very poor and you might catch yourself rolling your eyes at how the characters react. Of the cast, I recognised Fivel Stewart from the excellent show Atypical but she gets little to work with, while Ben Mellish, a very inexperienced actor, plays Manson – which might explain why this is actually a minor role.

The more horror moments of the movie appear in ‘dreams’ of sort that Sharon Tate keeps having – you’re never quite sure if she is just going a bit crazy. But then the final thirty minutes, the level of blood and gore goes up ten fold. The blood is annoyingly CGI but it’s not too off-putting and the violence is surprisingly brutal. You should be kind of expecting given the subject matter but when it happens it actually is quite shocking. And these last thirty minutes are also when the movie becomes more of a traditional horror-slasher-style movie and it’s where it’s at its best. This should be of no surprise when the director is clearly such a big fan of the genre. I know this because he has directed some fantastic documentaries on the subject (and written a number of horrors, including Halloween 6 and the superb Havenhurst – Editor Phil), including my favourite ever in Crystal Lake Memories: The Complete History of Friday the 13th.

While I wouldn’t say the director should stick to these movies, he perhaps need a bit more experience in creating his own horror (this is only his second time directing a fictional movie after The Amityville Murders) because The Haunting of Sharon Tate shows promise but doesn’t quite produce enough highlights.

The Haunting of Sharon Tate is released on VOD, via iTunes, Amazon, Google, Microsoft, TalkTalk, and Netflix, on April 8th.

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