It could be argued that 1969 brought a sobering conclusion to the spirit of counter-culture that was brewing in the decade, with the rise of the Manson family putting the brutal end to the hippy ideal. In 2019, while Tarantino was lamenting the fall of the recent golden age of Hollywood, Daniel Farrands proposed an alternate account of the grizzly murder that signified its end. The brutal demise of the leading woman, In The Haunting of Sharon Tate.
Sharon Tate has it all, she’s a glistening star in a city full of them, happily married and with a baby, while her husband is away. However, she starts to have these doubts, first about her husband’s faithfulness, and on to topics such as murdered animals, ominous records, and subliminal messages, which start to put undue pressure on the pregnant star. While her guests/friends try to reassure her that these overblown worries are just that. As Tate doubts her sanity, she will soon come to face her worse fears on repeated occasions, on that fateful night in 1969.
While it is easy to forget that Tate wasn’t the only victim of that fateful night, the film fully focuses on the eponymous victim. It is no surprise that Hillary Duff gives it her all when capturing Sharon Tate, especially in the first half of the film. Of course, Tate wasn’t alone on that fateful, as the film does shine a light on the other victims of 10050 Cielo Drive, with some more interesting casting. Such as the descendant of the Hearst dynasty, Lydia Hearst, as the Folger heiress, Gibby Folger, (looking more like one of my old school friends, but that’s beside the point). We also get the depictions of the Manson Family, with Fivel Stewart as the Patricia “Yellow” Krenwinkel and Ben Mellish as Manson himself. While I was more a fan of the short-lived T.V. show Aquarius, the cast here does a pretty good job.
Throughout the narrative, the infamous incident is depicted two to three times, it’s a harrowing experience, especially if you know what is about to happen. Even if you do, it might be worth persevering as the conclusion is fascinating enough, especially if you are a fan of Ryan Murphy’s oeuvre. With a downright creepy explanation that ties up all the eeriness, while providing its food for thought. Its depictions can be tough to stomach, as it goes into lurid details about the night in question. Offering a more sobering depiction of a true-crime testimony.
With its heightened depictions of notorious and tragically true events, it makes for a controversial yet captivating depiction of the nightmare that not only consumed but, in a way, reshaped America. It also gives Hilary Duff ample room to carry on showing her talents, she goes above and beyond in her depictions of the late star. If you give it a chance, you’ll find an intriguing spin on a true-crime case that is infamous to this day. The film’s lasting impression will follow you far after you finish, The Haunting of Sharon Tate will certainly live up to its name.
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