First things first, I’m an 80’s kid through and through, one that was raised on horror the same way some kids are on raised on Rock. I mean, I was watching Peter Cushing stake Dracula through the heart when I was still sitting in a high-chair trying to feed myself Wheaties, and although I may have grown a little over the years, my love for the genre has never wavered.
So before we get started, I want to let you all know I’m the kinda guy that digs bad horror movies 99.9% of the time (Trolls 2, I have one eye on you! )and will always find something positive to bring forward, no matter how awful the film; but there’s a big difference between reviewing a film for the masses and enjoying it for one’s own pleasure.
So now we’ve got that out of the way, let’s kick things off, shall we?
Most recently brought back into public consciousness by Quentin Tarantino’s announcement of his Sharon Tate centred film Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Director Daniel Ferrands’ (The Amityville Murders) The Haunting of Sharon Tate gets a jump start on the frenzy, fascination and morbid curiosity that’s sure to follow.
Sadly, anyone tapped into popular culture will most likely be aware of the name, although some may be less familiar with the tragic story surrounding the pregnant actress’ murder and the binding ties it has to The Manson cult. Unfortunately, this film doesn’t answer any of those questions, but what it does do, is make you want to find out.
With a title as generic and over used as ‘The Haunting of…’, add in the fact its based around real people and actual history,there were two ways I could approach this: I could hold my film-snobbery card high in the air and wave it for all to see, or I could put that sucker away in my back pocket and go along for the ride; and the latter was definitely the better choice.
Hinged, very loosely – if I even have the right to say that – on an alleged interview from 1968 that Tate had with Dick Kleiner of Fate magazine, where she discusses in detail a dream – or psychic premonition – she had of her own death.
Well, this film takes that scrap of tabloid gossip and runs wild with all the freedoms and joys creative/artistic licence allow – and depending on how you feel, turns it into something that could be perceived as exploitive and tasteless.
Secondly, it’s a low budget, independent movie aimed to shock and flutter its wings on the borders of controversy; and that’s exactly how you should take it. So switch your brain off, leave it at the door, and you’re in for a bizarre, albeit entertaining time.
Hilary Duff sheds her good-girl Disney image and trades it for blood and guts, looking for a place in the ranks amongst the Scream Queens greats, in her first ever horror film. Something at times, she shows herself easily capable of, but here it’s a weak script with stilted dialogue that lets it all down. There are some juicy scenes she gets a chance to chew on as a paranoid Sharon Tate, plagued by visions of her and her friends’ impending doom, but even then, they’re rather outlandish, contrived, and delivered in some strange and distracting accent.
The supporting cast, Jonathan Bennett (Mean Girls, Cheaper by the Dozen) and Lydia Hearst (South of Hell, #Horror) do their best with what they have, but there’s seems to zero chemistry between the actors and a flatness throughout that can barely be ignored.
Performance and script aside, The Haunting of Sharon Tate isn’t all that bad to look at, with a few nice – but maybe overused – tracking shots, well-lit night scenes (a rarity these days), and a little bit of Jason Bourne style editing thrown in to intensify the violence. Although, realistically, it brings nothing new or original to the screen that you haven’t seen before.
Luckily, It’s well paced and the scares are built up just enough to keep you interested, but at barely an hour and a half long, I suppose it hardly has time to drag. So, if you’re sitting there, looking for a bit of camp, shlocky fun and you enjoy those films that fall somewhere into the it’s so bad/weird, it’s good, category, then why the hell not, chuck it on. Laurence Drew
Pre-Order The Haunting of Sharon Tate here