The Haunting of Sharon Tate
|The Haunting of Sharon Tate|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Daniel Farrands|
|Written by||Daniel Farrands|
|Edited by||Dan Riddle|
The Haunting of Sharon Tate is a 2019 American horror thriller film written and directed by Daniel Farrands, and starring Hilary Duff, Jonathan Bennett, Lydia Hearst, Pawel Szajda, and Ryan Cargill. The film is based on the 1969 Tate murders mixed with fictional elements. It follows actress Sharon Tate, portrayed by Duff, who suffers premonitions of her murder at the hands of Charles Manson's followers.
It was released in the United States on April 5, 2019, by Saban Films, and received mostly negative reviews.
In August 1968, actress Sharon Tate tells a journalist about a nightmare she had in which she and her friend, Jay Sebring, had their throats slashed inside her home at 10050 Cielo Drive in the Benedict Canyon section of Los Angeles. One year later, a pregnant Sharon is spending time at the residence with Jay, her friend Abigail Folger, and Abigail's boyfriend Wojciech Frykowsky. Sharon's husband, Roman Polanski, is in Europe shooting a film. Sharon becomes angered upon finding that a new caretaker, a young man named Steven Parent, is living in a camper on the property without her prior knowledge. That night, while the group are socializing, Wojciech answers the door where two unknown persons inquire about the residence; he tells them the home belongs to Sharon and Roman, and that they have the wrong residence.
The following morning, Sharon and Abigail go for a walk, where they encounter two strange women, and subsequently find Sharon's pet dog dead alongside the trail. In the house's study, Sharon uncovers a recording of folk music by Charles Manson, left behind by the residence's former owner, a music producer. The music disturbs her, and she recalls the voice as being that of the man who attacked her in her nightmare. Sharon later expresses to Jay that she finds Abigail and Wojciech's extended stay at her home oppressive, and that she wishes they would leave. That night, Abigail sees a woman standing outside the window of her bedroom. Sharon has a nightmare she, Jay, Abigail, and Wojciech are brutally murdered by Manson followers Tex Watson, Patricia Krenwinkel, Linda Kasabian, and Susan Atkins.
Sharon becomes convinced that Manson and this group of people are plotting to kill her, but Abigail and Wojciech dismiss her fears as paranoia stemming from her pregnancy. Sharon brings the Manson recording to Steven, who is knowledgeable about technology, and he determines that it contains subliminal messages when played in reverse, revealing the phrase "Helter Skelter." Sharon subsequently has a nightmare in which she finds Steven's corpse in his car, and becomes convinced the dreams are premonitions. When Sharon believes she is going into labor, Steven runs to start his car. Sharon sees that Manson's followers have arrived, and rushes to the car, attempting to thwart his impending murder. Steven crashes the car into a fence, and he and Sharon flee back to the house on foot, as Tex shoots in their direction repeatedly.
In the house, Sharon, Abigail, Steven, and Wojciech attempt to barricade the entrances, and find the power has been cut. Jay arrives at the house, having heard the commotion from the guest house where he was sleeping. They are confronted by Tex, who tells Jay he is the devil, there to "do the devil's work." Tex and Susan usher them into the living room, where Steven and Wojciech are bound and gagged. Sharon manages to thwart the killers' plan by stabbing Tex with a penknife and freeing Jay, resulting in a melee in which Abigail smashes Patricia's head on the corner of a table, killing her.
Sharon, Jay, Abigail, and Steven retreat to Steven's camper, while Susan searches for Wojciech who is still hiding in the house. Susan attempts to kill him, but he violently beats her before drowning her in the bathtub. Tex, injured but still alive, tracks the group as Steven attempts to use a CB radio to call for help. Tex breaches the camper, but Steven beats him with a shovel before Sharon shoots him to death.
At dawn, the group approach the house, and observe the crime scene. They are shocked to observe their own corpses; their conquering of Manson's followers was merely an imagined alternate possibility. Sharon, Jay, Abigail, Wojciech, and Steven—now in the afterlife—walk away from the house, Sharon holding the child she did not live to give birth to.
In February 2018, it was announced Hilary Duff, Jonathan Bennett, and Lydia Hearst had joined the cast of the film, with Daniel Farrands writing and directing the film. Lucas Jarach and Eric Brenner will serve as producers on the film, while Jim Jacobsen and Jorge Garcia Castro will serve as executive producers under their Skyline Entertainment banner. Duff also serves as an executive producer for the film.
In February 2019, the film won three awards from the Hollywood Reel Independent Film Festival. Daniel Farrands won the award for Best Director, Duff won the award for Best Actress for her portrayal of the titular character and the film won Best Horror Film.
On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 21% based on 29 reviews, with an average rating of 3.18/10. The website's consensus reads, "The Haunting of Sharon Tate dishonors the events it seeks to dramatize with a poorly acted and offensively exploitative take on real-life tragedy." On Metacritic, it has an average rating of 8 out of 100 based on 10 reviews, indicating "overwhelming dislike".
Owen Gleiberman of Variety gave the film a negative review, writing: "[T]he movie's petty folly — its failure of imagination and morality — is that it actually goes out of its way to turn the Manson murders into schlock horror." Frank Scheck, writing for The Hollywood Reporter, referred to Duff as being "miscast" in the title role, and wrote that the film "deserves the instant obscurity for which it is certainly destined." David Ehrlich of IndieWire gave the film a grade of "D-", calling it "unfathomably bad" and writing that it "depicts the final days of Tate's life with all the sensitivity of a snuff film." Noel Murray of the Los Angeles Times wrote that the film "turns the Manson cult’s crimes into fodder for a sleazy B-thriller". TheWrap's William Bibbiani wrote: "It's far too early to call [The Haunting of Sharon Tate] the worst movie of the year. But if it's not, it's going to be a rough 2019." Sheila O'Malley of RogerEbert.com gave the film 0 out of 4 stars, calling it "appalling from start to finish".
The film received positive notices from Starbust Magazine, Cinedump, Horror News, Abort Mag, Creative Screenwriting, World Film Geek, Film Threat, Cultured Vultures, His Name is Death, and We Live Entertainment, many of whom cited Duff's performance and the film's spiritual themes and surprise ending. It also won three awards at the 2019 Hollywood Reel Independent Film Festival for Farrands (Best Director), Duff (Best Actress) and Best Horror Movie.
|2019||Hollywood Reel Independent Film Festival Awards||Best Director||Daniel Farrands||Won|||
|Best Actress||Hilary Duff||Won|||
|Best Horror Movie||The Haunting of Sharon Tate||Won|||
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- Murray, Noel (April 4, 2019). "VOD reviews: 'The Haunting of Sharon Tate' is sleazy exploitation, but 'The Wind' is one to see". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 12, 2019.
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- "The Haunting of Sharon Tate REVIEW - Existential Exploitation". Cultured Vultures. April 19, 2019.
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