The Haunting of Sharon Tate

The Haunting of Sharon Tate is a wretched film that would be more offensive if it weren’t so damn stupid, or maybe it’s more offensive BECAUSE it’s so damn stupid. Sometimes with movies like this, you have to ask yourself: “Do I give it a good rating because it was effective?” This movie is not, so I didn’t have to linger on that question, but it’s in the vein of those films where the more effective they are at being shocking and disgusting, the more unpleasant the experience is. Thus, is the movie a failure because it’s unpleasant but does exactly what it set out to do?

Again, that moral quandary doesn’t apply so much here because this is not simply an unpleasant movie, but a bad one. It’s poorly scripted and directed by Daniel Ferrands, who clearly set out to make something a little more ambitious than a straight recreation of the August 9, 1969 Tate Murders (I’ll give him a little credit for that), but ends up with a lot of laughable nonsense in between moments of cheap violence. The acting is… I dunno. Sometimes it’s hard to tell when an actor is only as good as the material they have to work with, and in this case, the material sucks. Hilary Duff – bless her – admittedly bears a striking resemblance to Sharon Tate in this film, but I doubt the real Sharon Tate went around saying things like “Do you think we are slaves to our own destiny?”

Basically the premise is based off the notion that Tate *may have* predetermined her death, so Ferrands crafts a screenplay around the last three days of Tate’s life, where her ever-growing paranoia that people are out to get her is punctuated by Tate’s reoccurring nightmares of her and her house guests being murdered, as well as occasional dialogue exchanges involving fate, destiny, and alternate realities.

This all plays out like some kind of low-rent crime reenactment meets Final Destination, and that might be weirdly appealing if the movie weren’t so tedious and self-serious, but I get it, they ARE reenacting one of the most notorious, brutal killings in American history, so like, you probably should take it seriously. Ferrands and the cast seem to be taking all of this seriously, so it’s conflicting when, during several ludicrously bloody sequences reenacting the real-life murders, CGI is used to enhance blood splatter. I literally thought CGI blood splatter effects were cancelled. I thought we’d moved on as a society. And yet here we are, recreating one of the most appalling crimes in history, with some of the most obvious and lazy CGI blood I’ve ever seen.

The overwhelming nonsense that is The Haunting of Sharon Tate culminates in a sort-of reclaiming of history, where Sharon and her house guests fight off the Manson Killers and survive, but not really because she ends up looking down at the dead bodies including her own. I don’t know. Alternate realities in movies can be fun. Tarantino does it brilliantly, even with this very same event in his Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. It works in that movie because it imagines that Tate and her friends never encountered the killers at all, instead imagining that they had entered the wrong house and get picked off in spectacularly over-the-top fashion by Brad and Leo.

In Ferrands’ film, the alternate reality suggests that maybe if she knew about her death, she could try to prevent it, or fight back. Ferrands uses this device to frame Duff as some kind of final girl in a slasher movie. It’s jaw-droppingly tone-deaf.

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