Shockingly, there are some individuals unaware of who both Charles Manson and Sharon Tate (and others) were, as we soon approach the 50th anniversary of their tragic meeting which occurred in early August of 1969 at an address that no longer exists of 10050 Cielo Drive. Of course, in the horror genre, often true crime, finds itself incorporated to the sickening world of psychological thrillers, and with a slew of films approaching on the horizon of new releases. However before, mentioning them and let’s note what hideous crime occurred, on the fateful night of August 8th an unprovoked, vicious series of killings occurred, those among the dead pregnant movie star Sharon Tate (then married to Roman Polanski), celebrity hairdresser Jay Sebring, coffee heiress Abigail Folger, her lover, Wojciech Frykowski, and teenager Steven Parent. In additional shortly afterward grocery store chain owners Leno and Rosemary LaBianca, fell victim to double murder, these crimes struck into the heart of society. It perhaps also raises the alarm for personal defense and security now seen at pictures of many celebrities, high walls, locked gates, and safe rooms, all which again become fodder in the home invasion subgenre in horror. As now, almost 5-decades later, the ringleader Manson, passed on, at 83, most of his life served in prison, and his followers who committed the crimes all convicted Susan Atkins (died in 2009, in prison), while Tex Watson and Patricia ‘Katie’ Krenwinkel remain incarcerated.
The ‘Manson mythos’ continues to grow, both during his life and even now afterwards, he to some gave a charismatic nuance, one must understand he rose in era of free-love, anti-establishment, and plenty of drug usage, he longed for a music career, but didn’t take kindly to fakery. In then end racism, and obsession with The Beatles ‘Helter Skelter’ and their White Album drove to level of madness, his strange spiritual beliefs cultivating so many in his ‘Family’. So why does the obsession continue, namely the same reason many crave fascination with Jack the Ripper and Ed Gein, their monstrous crimes cause vivid stories, influencing authors, filmmakers, and musicians. Manson’s life and music, have had Guns-n-Roses and Marilyn Manson do covers of his songs, and filmmakers of both small and large screens. Many actors taking the time studying his writings, to properly portray him such as Evan Peters in FX’s American Horror Story: Cult and the countless movies of recent times, However, many do agree the 1976 film Helter Skelter from director Tom Gries, serves as the best, but since then House of Manson (2014), Wolves at the Door (2016), and the upcoming movies The Manson Family Massacre (July 2019), Charlie Says (2018), and Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon A Time In Hollywood (2019), starring an incredible cast that includes Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Kurt Russell, Al Pacino, the recently departed Luke Perry.
Hence, that brings us to this film from director Daniel Farrands’ strange interpretation of the real and well-documented facts that occurred, he uses a quote attributed to ‘Sharon Tate, from an interview published a year before her death, wherein she reveals having a nightmare in which she saw a strange man in her house and then discovered herself and her friend Jay Sebring tied up with their throats cut open. However, Tate’s sister Debra, slams the concept, stating in People magazine in 2018, “I know for a fact she did not have a premonition — awake or in a dream — that she and Jay would have their throats cut. I checked with all of her … friends. None of her friends had any knowledge of this…” The spin in which Farrands uses, a what-if scenario, of the victims fighting back, achieving the upper hand and slaying their attackers, but an odd ending. Many in the horror genre, aware of Daniel’s contributions, Crystal Lake Memories: The Complete History of Friday the 13th (2013), and earlier this year released The Amityville Murders (2018) and another film later in 2019 called The Murder of Nicole Brown Simpson. While some try to flatly label it as a horror movie, this subject often leans to thriller, crime, and drama, with a slight supernatural element herein, all characters portraying real people with actual impacts on others’ lives, distributed by Saban Films.
Let’s return to 10050 Cielo Drive, just a tad north of Beverly Hills, California, actress Sharon Tate (Hilary Duff) is pregnant at 8-months with her first child, after six months overseas with her husband, Director Roman Polanski. She’s accompanied with her very good friend Jay Sebring (Jonathan Bennett) once inside the house they find themselves greeted by house-sitters Wojciech Frykowski (Pawel Szajda (Venom ) and Abigail ‘Gibby’ Folger (Lydia Hearst (Condemned ). Shortly afterward, Sharon discovers her lease house from (Rudolph Altobelli) house-sitters changed many things around her estate, without permission, including designing the nursery; though a pleasant treat a shy but hard working Steven Parent (Ryan Cargill). However a sinister presence Charlie (Ben Mellish) begins to appear, always getting through the flimsy security gate and dropping off packages for music producer Terry Melcher who previously lived there with Candice Bergen and former renters of the property. A trivial note, not mentioned in the film, that couple moved out in January of 1969, however Charlie had previous visited Terry in 1968, hence knew of the house. In the story, Tate begins having nightmarish dreams of a man, later known as Tex (Tyler Johnson The Waterman ()) and two women portrayed by Bella Popa and Fivel Stewart torturing her and her friends. The scenes that transpire in the dreams, over and over depict the anguish and horrifying sequences. Aiding these nightmares, seems to resonate from a tape machine turning itself on, a subliminal message, the sound of Manson repeating the phrase ‘Helter Skelter’. All of this leading to a supernatural connection that Tate and her friends survived the ordeal in an alternative universe, the close out scenes lead to a strangely bizarre conclusion.
Nevertheless, the movie does entertain, but works from a controversial standpoint, propped up with quite a bit of fabrication, especially incorporating the supernatural elements. There are some scenes that definitely will affect any sensitive or even pregnant viewers, that comes from Duff’s pleading not to harm her unborn baby. As for the blood splatter, that falls under the guides excessive CGI influences, practical effects likely would have generated a more gruesome outcome of an already tragic moment caught in time. Some criticize both the portrayal of Wojciech and Abigail by Szajda and Hearst as unsympathetic, however, they consider themselves entitled and elitist, their wealth exceeds that of Tate, and hence their actions mirror that privileged status. However, what truly doesn’t work as it should have been centered on the Duff not looking similar to Tate’s appearance, but that story’s new spin likely makes her disingenuous to the audience as it is her first horror film role. The biggest problem boils down to the script, the conversations appeared forced, absent of a natural flow. As for the technical aspect, too many mount quickly, from questionable angels, and panning shots to the set design of a quirky 1960s feel, but the soundtracks eerie at moments, though in questionable taste a song from Charles Manson “Cease to Exist” appears in the film.
This film strives to tell the story of the fateful night in his own words, ignoring some elements, but including others what actually occur, from the hanging, stabbings, positions of the bodes, therefore it truly runs the gambit form positive to negative. Sadly none of that occurs, and therefore one will either like, love, or hate it, finding a safe middle ground, could prove difficult with the last act of the movie swirling in the what-if paradox and nonetheless of speculation.
- Based on a True Story of one of the most Horrific Murders in History
- Hillary Duff is Sharon Tate
- Witness the Shocking Events through the eyes of Hollywood’s Brightest Star
IMDb Rating: 3.2/10
Baron’s Rating: 3.0/10