The Haunting of Sharon Tate is a new horror-thriller film written and directed by Daniel Farrands. The movie tells the story of the days leading up to the gruesome murder of Tate and her friends at the hands of the Manson Family, during which she was plagued by visions of her impending death.
This film has been the subject of quite a bit of controversy because Tate’s family found it to be exploitative and untrue. It is totally understandable why they would feel this way. The movie takes so much dramatic license with the story that it may as well not be about Tate anymore. The title is even manipulative, as this is more of a psychological horror film than a supernatural one.
It’s a shame that this story is so poorly-written because the Tate murders are among the most interesting and bizarre true-crime stories out there. The movie resorts to old and worn horror movie tropes in an attempt to pull suspense out of a well-known and predictable true story. There are good ways of making a true story feel exciting, and this is not one of them. And the ending? It is so out of left field that you won’t know whether or not what you are watching is real.
One of the biggest issues with the script is that the characters are not well developed at all. Even Tate, who should be a likable protagonist, is turned into an ignorant damsel-in-distress. Some things that the characters do are just illogical. If Tate really had these visions, why didn’t she do anything about them? Why didn’t she try to leave. Obviously, the answer is because she didn’t leave in real life, but supposedly she also didn’t have these visions in real life.
However, even that isn’t the worst part of the film. The worst part of the movie is the ensemble. Nobody in the film gives an A-list, B-list, or even C-list performance. Hilary Duff is shockingly bad as Tate, and it is obvious from the opening shots of the movie that all she is doing is a terrible impression. Some of her delivery is so ridiculously artificial that it’s hard to believe anyone thought she was a good pick for this role.
The technical aspects of this film aren’t much better than the acting. The cinematography is truly horrid — some of the worst to have the worst to come out of any movie this year. It looks slightly better than a student project, if only because the costuming looks professional. The editing is choppy and aggressive in a way that is unintentionally disorienting.
The only part of this film that is remotely impressive is the imagery during the actual murders (and the premonitions of the murders, which we see multiple times). The murders look really disturbing and freaky. That being said, the way in which they were turned into generic slasher kills is definitely exploitative of tragedy and disrespectful to victims.
Overall, The Haunting of Sharon Tate earns the controversy it has inspired. It is a manipulative, exploitative, and simply not very good movie, but you do have to see it to believe some of the ridiculousness it has in store.
The Haunting of Sharon Tate is in theaters and on VOD beginning April 5.